If Republicans were appearing on your news broadcasts and insisting that Barry Goldwater was the 38th president of the United States, or that the Chinese bombed Pearl Harbor, surely you would take a moment to halt the conversation and correct them. At least, I'd like to think so.
So why do you continue to allow Republican officials and conservative pundits to make statements such as "the Great Depression didn't end until World War II" or "the New Deal prolonged the depression" without comment? These statements are as incorrect as declaring Idaho a sovereign monarchy -- why are they constantly unchallenged?
Recovery from the Great Depression started in the first months of the Roosevelt administration and was directly attributable to the actions and programs that FDR undertook in his first 100 days. This is not an opinion. It's the conclusive verdict of history. It's a fact.
Was there poverty and misery throughout the 1930s? Of course there was, and no one would say otherwise. The United States was a much poorer country at that time than it is today. That we have enjoyed decades of growth, and that for most Americans the current crisis does not come close to having the devastating personal impact of the Depression era, is directly attributable to the programs that were instituted more than seventy years ago. In short we got it right in the 1930s, and we have benefited from those decisions ever since. The American dream of home ownership, of a decent job, of a dignified retirement... that dream wasn't just aided by Franklin Roosevelt's actions, it is the direct invention of the programs which grew from the New Deal.
In a time when we're trying to make equally difficult economic decisions against a backdrop of complex financial considerations, it's incumbent on the news media to play a role in helping Americans obtain the best, most accurate information available. Without it, the odds that we will not make the right decisions this time are greatly increased.
Perhaps it's easier to allow Republicans to pass along a distorted version of history. Maybe it makes it easier to book guests. Certainly it's simpler to just let them have their say than to stop the day's sound bite for a history lesson. But being complicit in the twisting of American history isn't just lazy, it's dangerous. It has consequences that will affect the health, wealth and lives of your fellow Americans. It lessens the chance that our children and grandchildren will ever come to say "see how much better things are today than they were back in the first decade of the 21st century."
Please, the next time a guest appears on your show and makes a statement like "the Depression wouldn't even have been a depression without the New Deal," take two seconds to say No, that's not right. History will thank you.