Sorry Fox News, conservative blogs -- M. Obama socialist books story not true
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From a February 18 post by the Washington Post's Stephen Lowman:
In this era of blog wildfires, one fast-moving flame can be quenched before it scorches the facts. First lady Michelle Obama did not stock the White House library with socialist books.
The only problem is the books Port photographed have been sitting in the library since 1963.
The library came into being during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt. In 1961, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy asked Yale University librarian James T. Babb to oversee a committee that would select books for the library. In 1963, 1,780 were placed on the shelves.
"The White House library is a reference and recreational library for the use of the President, his family, and official staff," wrote Babb in the forward to "The White House Library: A Short Title List," a document from the White House Historical Association.
"It is intended to contain books which best represent the history and culture of the United States, works most essential for an understanding of our national experience. The collection has to be strictly limited because the attractive library on the ground floor of the White House has shelf space for only twenty-five hundred volumes. Authors, with few exceptions, are citizens of the United States; fiction and poetry by deceased writers only have been included."
"The American Socialist Movement, 1897-1912" by Ira Kinnis and "The Socialist Party of America" by David Shannon are included on that original list of books, along with books about the two national parties, communism and still others about socialism.
Babb told The New York Times in 1963 that there was "bound to be criticism" of the choices. "There will still be people telling us what should be in this library, but we'll just have to be adamant," he said.
It is impossible to know if the White House guide misspoke, or Port misheard.
"I guess if they have been in there since the 1960s then they have been there through several presidents," Port said when asked about the discovery. "All I said was that our tour guide told us they were chosen by the First Lady. I thought the books were interesting in the larger context, but now I guess it is what it is."
From The Fox Nation, accessed February 18:
- Fox Nation