The greatest crowd of spectators in Omahas history an estimated 160,000 people gathered June 5, 1948, to get a glimpse of Harry S. Truman as he marched through town in a parade. Yet when Life magazine reported on Trumans whistle stop tour, it highlighted the acres of empty seats in the citys 10,000-seat Ak-sar-ben auditorium, where Truman appeared later on.
Of course the auditorium wasnt full, says USC historian Franklin Dean Mitchell. Much of Omaha had already seen Truman earlier in the day.
The slight is part of a pattern that, according to the Truman scholar, explains the Chicago Tribunes infamous post-election headline: Dewey De-feats Truman.
In Harry S. Truman and the News Media, Mit-chell attributes what he calls the greatest miscalled election in journalistic history neither to a race too close to call, nor a fickle electorate.
The 1948 upset was the result of a deliberate bias on the part of the news media against the man, he contends, arguing that Time, Life and Fortune owner Henry R. Luce, newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst and Chicago Tribune publisher Col. Robert McCormick unleashed their considerable media might in an effort to break a 16-year Democratic lock on the White House.
They were so successful in belittling Truman and his chances of being re-elected that they ended up blinding much of the mainstream press to the candidates mounting popularity in the late summer and fall of 1948.
The book shows how truly vulnerable a president can be to a smear campaign, Mitchell says. But it also shows that the real victim of biased reporting is the press itself and the interests of the public. Had the campaign of vilification succeeded, the voters would have been cheated of what history now considers one of our top 10 presidents of all time.
When Truman assumed the presidency after Roosevelt died a scant 82 days into his fourth term, the man from Independence won high marks for drawing World War II to a close. But shortly thereafter, the president launched a 21-point liberal agenda that infuriated the three media titans.
Hearst, who operated a dozen big-city newspapers that reached 9.1 percent of the nations readers on a daily basis and 16.1 percent on Sundays, faulted FDRs successor for continuing the New Deal and other FDR policies, Mitchell says. The others followed suit.
The Chicago Tribune headline is the blunder that sticks in peoples memories because of a photograph taken on the day after the election. Truman ensured that the erroneous headline would be immortalized by posing for photographers with a copy of the newspaper, Mitchell says.
The photographs circulation exceeded the Tribunes limited, recalled edition by several million.
Surviving Modern Medicine: How to Get the Best From Doctors, Family & Friends
by Peter Clarke and Susan H. Evans
Rutgers University Press, $17
This how-to guide focuses on practical steps consumers can take to improve the quality of care they receive. Peter Clarke, professor of preventive medicine and communication, and Susan H. Evans, a research scientist at USCs Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, identify the five areas critical to effective medical care: getting your doctor to pay attention, making the best and most informed medical decisions, seeking the right kind of support from family and friends, appreciating the caregiver and protecting choices in critical-care situations.
The English Department: A Personal
and Institutional History
by W. Ross Winterowd
Southern Illinois University Press, $19.95
W. Ross Winterowd brings 40 years of
service in his discipline to this subject a history of English studies in the university since the Enlightenment. One curse of being in English, he writes, is the obligation to read impeccable, dull scholarly articles and impeccable, dull scholarly books. He claims that humor, wit, and grace are compatible with sound scholarship and flawless reasoning and he imbues this
volume with all those elements.
The Exceptional Individual: Achieving Business Success One Person at a Time
by Peter Engel
St. Martins Press, $22.95
Peter Engel, professor of entrepreneurial studies, is a former top Colgate-Palmolive executive who offers step-by-step advice and techniques for success. Engel contends there are no principles of business structure that ensure success, and that consultants who claim they have the answers are wrongheaded at best, fraudulent at worst. He maintains that excellence in business begins and ends with those rare individuals who are able to carry a new idea forward and get it realized.