Thursday, December 3, 2009

Little more than a 15-minute nervous breakdown

At war's beginning, few men who wrote the news, and fewer still who broadcast it, could resist the purple technique of dire warnings, manic-depressive cycles, sweeping prognostications. Many a news commentator offered his audience little more than a 15-minute nervous breakdown. Not so Elmer Davis. His voice was calm, incisive, with a Hoosier twang as reassuring as Thanksgiving, as shrewd as a small-town banker.


But last week to Elmer Davis, as it must to all wartime officials, came pots of trouble. His ears had scarcely finished burning from attacks on the expense and political tone of Victory, the de luxe glamor magazine designed to sell the U.S. to the world as a kind of Hollywood 3,000 miles square, when his sprawling OWI issued a cartoon booklet on the life of President Roosevelt, also designed for distribution abroad. A U.S. soldier sent a copy to New York's Republican Congressman John Taber. Mr. Taber, who has a low irritation point, was moved to cry: "Purely political propaganda, designed entirely to promote a fourth term and a dictatorship. . . . How much longer are the American people going to have that kind of stuff pulled on them?"
- TIME, March 15, 1943

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