Jill Lepore Shows That FDR Was Also a Great Editor

By Mike Feinsilber

Long before Ronald Reagan became known by the sobriquet “the great communicator,” there was Franklin Roosevelt. In the Great Depression, he rallied the nation through his command of radio.

Jill Lepore, in These Truths, her magnificent history of the United States—the history you thought you knew but didn’t—shows that Roosevelt was also a great editor.

She gives an example:

FDR’s secretary of labor, Frances Perkins, drafted a radio address for him. It contained this sentence: “We are trying to construct a more inclusive society.”

When Roosevelt delivered the speech, it came out: “We are going to make a country in which no one is left out.”

That’s editing.

Mike Feinsilber spent about a quarter century with UPI in Pittsburgh, Columbus, Harrisburg, Newark, New York, Saigon and Washington and about a quarter century with AP in Washington, with a spell as assistant bureau chief and a stint as writing coach.

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