When Franklin Delano Roosevelt Stumbled, the Media Didn't Make Much of It

It's highly unlikely that Franklin D. Roosevelt could have hidden the fact that he could not walk from voters today. But during his presidency, it was something the general public did not understand. 


"He had developed this way to throw his body with these braces locked into place, but he always had to have someone on either side of him," CBS host Bob Schieffer revealed during a "Face The Nation" panel discussion about the recent PBS documentary The Roosevelts: An Intimate History.

"Hopefully, the public today would be much more understanding and glad to have somebody that had overcome this kind of problem," said historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

But given pundits' reactions to Hillary Clinton's stumble after an early departure from the 9/11 memorial service, that's clearly not the case.

"Sadly, I think TV crews would compete with each other [today] to see who could get the footage that showed [FDR] at his most helpless," historian Geoffrey Ward told Goodwin. "I think Fox News would've loved that flower."

FDR did fall. The year was 1936. But 80 years ago, the media, believe it or not, did nothing. 

"He was coming down the aisle to give the acceptance speech. He went over to shake somebody's hand and he did fall and his braces unlocked and his speech sprawled all around him, but there was an honor code upon the press at that time not to show him that way," Goodwin explained.

"I think they not only saw the arduousness and the sacrifice and didn't write about it, but they had a much clearer idea of all the other things that were going on," filmmaker Ken Burns added. 

Watch:

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.