In recent posts I’ve complained about the partisan bias in mainstream news organizations. The major TV networks and newspapers clearly go to great lengths to find dirt on Republican presidential candidates. Where their is no dirt to be found, the press will take something mundane, like Mitt Romney paying the legally required tax rate on investment income, and portray it as some kind of scandal.
The media treat candidates from their own party very differently. Examples of media cover-ups for prominent Democrats are so numerous that they may take a few days to cover. for today I’ll just confine my comments to the issue of presidential health problems.
Four sitting Presidents, all Democrats, have concealed very serious health problems from the public. The three who did this in the twentieth century clearly had the cooperation of the press in covering up problems that would have been alarming, to say the least, to the American people.
Woodrow Wilson suffered a severe stroke in early October of 1919. For the remaining seventeen months of his presidency he was largely incapacitated. Many historians believe that his wife actually forged his signature on government documents, effectively running the government for him until he partially recovered. The press covered up Wilson’s condition. A journalist named Louis Seibold even published a phony interview with the President, who in actual fact was too sick to speak to anyone.
Franklin Roosevelt was dying when he ran for a forth term in 1944. In addition to his polio, heart problems, and extremely high blood pressure, he apparently also had cancer. The press had always helped present a false picture of the President’s health, compliantly abstaining from ever showing a picture of him in his wheelchair. Most of the Americans who voted for him in four elections did not know that he was unable to stand, even for short periods, without leaning on a podium or other support. Roosevelt’s death in April of 1945, just three months into his fourth term, was no surprise to his doctors, but it was to the American people.
Roosevelt’s behavior in 1944 and ’45 was unforgivable in at least two ways. He ran for office in the middle of a world war, knowing that he was too sick to do his job properly, and that he was likely to die at any time. Then, to compound this crime, he went to ridiculous lengths to keep Vice President Harry Truman from knowing what was going on in the government. He kept the existence of America’s atom bomb program from Truman (but not from Soviet Premier Josef Stalin, who had spies and agents in every part of the Roosevelt administration). He refused to brief Truman on his all-important meetings with Stalin and Winston Churchill, in which crucial issues regarding the war were negotiated. Megalomaniac that he was, FDR insisted on keeping all power in his own rapidly failing hands.
If the press had been honest with the American people, Roosevelt would almost certainly have been living in retirement in New York when he succumbed to his many illnesses in 1945, and America would have been led by a healthy and well-informed wartime President.
John F. Kennedy’s health problems included rapidly disintegrating bones, adrenal dysfunction, Addison’s Disease, and a host of lesser ailments. During his presidency he dealt with the chronic pain by staying doped up on pain medications and amphetamines. The news media turned the same blind eye to his health problems that they turned to his many adulteries.
Until the advent of conservative talk radio and the Internet, Democrats pretty much investigated, reported, and edited all the “news” that American voters were able to get. This slavish loyalty to the Party sometimes led journalists to neglect the best interests of the nation. This was certainly true in the three cases where seriously incapacitated men were running the government, and the voters were kept in the dark about it.