Brian Williams: 'Could We Use a Little FDR Right About Now?'

Working on the day after Thanksgiving, Brian Williams used Friday's NBC Nightly News to promote a new book from FDR's grandson, providing Williams with an opportunity to propose: “In your estimation, could we use a little FDR right about now?” Though Franklin Delano Roosevelt's policies failed to end the Depression, Williams hailed him as “the man who led this nation out of financial disaster.” Conceding “we can no longer talk to him,” as if we'd benefit from doing so, Williams trumpeted how “tonight we think we have about the next best thing” in FDR's grandson, Curtis, who “lives in the south of France after a career with the UN.”

Williams cued up Roosevelt, “I know you've been asked for comment along these lines lately: In your estimation, could we use a little FDR right about now?” Roosevelt naturally agreed as he recalled “FDR is credited with a fantastic list of legislative achievements,” but “to me, his achievement in conveying confidence and hope to the American people was far more important” and so “I hope Obama picks it up” and will “convey to the American public that they have to join him in coping with this recession.”

Williams, who anchored the Friday, November 28 NBC Nightly News, set up the pre-recorded segment:
Now to a name that's been in the news a lot lately: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the man who led this nation out of financial disaster and guided us right through to victory in World War II. We can no longer talk to him, but tonight we think we have about the next best thing. FDR's grandson, Curtis Roosevelt, grew up in the White House. These days he's 78, lives in the south of France after a career with the UN. And he's broken his silence about his grandfather with a new book, Too Close to the Sun.
After discussing how being FDR's grandson determined Curtis Roosevelt's identity and his concerns about whether the Obama children can remain “grounded,” Williams posed the question about if “we use a little FDR right about now?” Roosevelt answered:
Yes, and I do hope that the President-elect realizes that when you look at that first hundred days -- FDR is credited with a fantastic list of legislative achievements and so forth. Fine. But to me, his achievement in conveying confidence and hope to the American people was far more important. And I hope Obama picks it up and realizes that all of his economic advisers, all of political advisers of every stripe are not going to be able to give him what only he can do and that is to convey to the American public that they have to join him in coping with this recession.
The Barnes & Noble page for Too Close to the Sun: Growing Up in the Shadow of My Grandparents, Franklin and Eleanor.

MSNBC.com video of the interview excerpt aired on Friday's NBC Nightly News.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center