Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April 17: Political Mudslinging

On this date in History ... 1950:

Time magazine publishes an article about the story circulating about political mudslinging between Florida incumbent Sen. Claude Pepper and his opponent, George Smathers.
The story, which has become the icon of how words can be used to distort one’s image, first appeared in an Iowa newspaper and grew rapidly on the political grapevine.  While it is denied that Smathers ever made such a speech, it followed the campaign and cost Pepper his seat in the Senate, much to the joy of Harry Truman who wanted Pepper out of office due to Pepper having been part of a failed attempt to “dump Truman” from the Democratic ticket.
The story was:
"Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, he has a brother who is a known homo sapien, and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage habitually practiced celibacy."

Voters told reporters that they weren’t quite sure what words like “extrovert” and “nepotism” and “thespian” meant but they were sure they were connected to bad, immoral or illegal activities.

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