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Fox News Spins History (Again)

I appeared on Fox News yesterday to discuss both the Blagojevich flap and the imminent economic recovery package from the Obama administration. You can watch the clip here. As you'll see, on that latter issue, Fox News is starting its campaign to stop Obama's big spending plan by stating - as assumed fact - that "historians pretty much agree" that Franklin Roosevelt prolonged the Great Depression, and that therefore, Obama shouldn't try another New Deal.


When I say Fox News' assertion about historians is patently false, they literally laugh at me as if I've said something so clearly untrue, something Americans supposedly assume is so obviously stupid, that it's worthy of ridicule.

The Depression issue was brought up by conservative pundit Monica Crowley - not surprising since this is the conservative talking point du jour ever since the "center-right nation" meme started looking idiotic and ever since fringe-right-wing bloviator Amity Shlaes published her since-discredited book claiming FDR essentially created the Great Depression. Crowley supported her the "FDR ruined the country" meme with the very authoritative-sounding statement that "based on all kinds of studies and academic work done on the great depression" she knows that the New Deal's "massive government intervention prolonged the Great Depression."

Of course, she doesn't offer up a single study or "academic work" as any kind of proof, and yet, when I say her assertion is absurd, Fox News anchor Greg Jarrett starts laughing at me - as if my assertion that FDR's New Deal helped end the Great Depression is so fantastical as to prompt guffawing. Jarrett proceeds to state that historians "pretty much agree" that FDR prolonged the Great Depression, and resorts to insisting that he knows that's true because "it's in the books" - whatever the hell that means. Indeed, Fox wants us to believe that what was only very recently the deranged propaganda of a handful of conservative political pundits is now such a consensus opinion among historians that to say otherwise is to evoke laughter.

Now, it's true - back in 2004, two UCLA professors published a little-noticed report claiming the New Deal's government intervention prolonged the Great Depression. But that assertion has been subsequently eviscerated by, ya know, actual data.

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