Kenneth (kensmind) wrote in potus_geeks,

  • Location:
  • Mood:
  • Music:

Presidents and the Media: Herbert Hoover- The Not So Great Communicator

History remembers Herbert Hoover for presiding over the start of the Great Depression. He is often portrayed as uncaring and as someone who accepted the economic downturn as inevitable. Many believe that this is an unfair portrayal of Hoover and that he was far more committed to active government than given credit for.

no title

One of Hoover's problem was his inability to communicate his message to the American people, a problem made worse because of Hoover's poor relationship with the media. As author Charles Rappleye contends in his 2016 book Herbert Hoover in the White House-The Ordeal of the Presidency (reviewed here in this community, Hoover was a man of many talents, but political schmoozing wasn't one of them. As Hoover became less and less popular, he blamed the media for his political woes. He reached almost Nixonian depths of resentment against the media, to the point where he ceased holding press conferences, even in the election year of 1932 and during the campaign.

As Rappleye notes in his book, Hoover began and continued his presidency besieged with an unrelenting and incessant series of financial bad news. His term commenced with a stock market bubble that Hoover recognized, but the significance of which he was unable to get others to appreciate until it was too late. Then came the great stock market crash of 1929. He also had to contend with the politically sensitive issue of European reparation loans made during the first world war. The market crash was followed by bank collapses and closings at home and in Europe. Rampant unemployment followed, along with falling crop and commodity prices so low that they make production a losing proposition.

Hoover's poor interpersonal skills hamstrung his abilities to meet the daunting challenges that he faced. He not only alienated the media, but also members of Congress as well, including a group of senators from his own party dubbed the "insurgents". His inability to appreciate the need for working with these legislators as a necessary prerequisite for tackling the problems impeded his ability to address the challenges he faced. The Great Humanitarian, unfortunately, was not a great communicator and did not work well with others. Hoover's inability to work with bankers obstructed his relief efforts and his alienation of the media hurt him in the eyes of the public.

no title

During Hoover's final days in office, he appeared to be unaware of the level of public discontent. His opponent in the 1932 election, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, fully appreciated what was going on, and was able to use his keen perception to his political advantage. Roosevelt was able to get and keep Hoover on the defensive and also able to spin the message for voters that Hoover was for the banks and big business, and not for the little guy. Roosevelt's subsequent presidency would succeed because, unlike Hoover, FDR knew and appreciated the importance of communication and of good media relations.
Tags: franklin delano roosevelt, herbert hoover

  • Post a new comment


    Comments allowed for members only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded