The Man Who Went Full Trump for FDR
It’s still hard to believe that Americans would fall for such a demagogic smear campaign: The false corruption charges, clouding past actions in shadowy tales of double-dealing. The "birther" attempts to question the president's very eligibility. And the recruiting of a hack reporter to devise the smears, then spread them over the new media he mastered. You wonder about this nominee from one of our great political parties: where is any sense of shame, any nobility, any limits?
Eight decades ago, fourteen years before Donald Trump’s birth, Franklin Roosevelt's winning presidential campaign in 1932 stirred such disgust. When the defeated incumbent, Herbert Hoover, recalled the campaign, he accused FDR of ruining American politics with irresponsible techniques, ghostwritten speeches, and smear tactics. Many voters later wrote Hoover, apologizing for believing the lies. And until his death, Hoover snubbed the man he most blamed for that hatchet job, FDR's smearer in chief, ghostwriter, and birth coach to the atmosphere that fed 1932’s version of the birther rumor, Charles Michelson.
Charlie Michelson was a cutthroat newspaperman back when reporters eschewed fancy pants titles like “journalist.” They delighted in being troublemakers, often making up news while reporting it...
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