Biden Was Right About Roosevelt, TV and the Crash--Update
The blogs are still aghast at Democratic vice president nominee Joe Biden's recent "gaffe."
Yet all he did was inform Katie Couric that, "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the televison and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'"
Critics are quick to point out that Roosevelt was not president during the 1929 Wall Street debacle. But Biden did not say Roosevelt was president. And nobody mentions that he was governor of New York and certainly in a position to give such a talk. Nor do any of these columnists or bloggers have the slightest idea that television did exist at the time.
As VisitSchenectady.com puts it, "Few knew in 1927 that television signals were being received at a [Schenectady, NY] home near Ellis Hospital belonging to Dr. Ernst W. Alexanderson. By May 1928 GE began regular TV broadcasting and on September 11,1928 television's first drama,The Queen's Messenger, was broadcast from Schenectady's WGY." While few of us alive today bother to delve any deeper into the past than we were required to in high school--and thus do not know for sure whether Roosevelt ever participated in such a broadcast for the budding viewers of WGY's narrow reach--unsung history buff Joe Biden may well have carefully dusted off a collection of newspaper clippings from that era and uncovered the long lost truth.
Note to naysayers:
Ironically, the first television appearance by a prominent government figure was a short statement by then Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover on April 9, 1927, when he told anybody who had a TV set, "“Today we have, in a sense, the transmission of sight for the first time in the world’s history. Human genius has now destroyed the impediment of distance in a new respect, and in a manner hitherto unknown.” This quote is from the Federal Communications Commission's website, complete with front page stories about the event from the New York Times and the Boston Post.
I am simply proposing that Biden may be more knowledgeable and more prudent than he has been given credit for, much as Sarah Palin's followers credit her with wisdom beyond her assertion that she has foreign policy experience because Russian prime minister Putin has flown over her state. Despite his reputation for gaffes, Biden may have discovered a small but significant moment in the life of Democratic icon Roosevelt and shared that moment with us.
Other findings about 1920s television are in my comment below.