Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Claude Pepper and George Smathers unknowingly propagate a great hoax.

If you go to Wiki to read about Claude Pepper you'll read about this very funny hoax. It would have been great for April Fool's Day.

Red Accusations and hoax "Redneck Speech" in 1950:
In 1950 George Smathers, formerly a supporter, broke with Pepper and ran against him in the Democratic primary for Senate. The contest was extremely heated, and revolved around policy issues, especially charges that Pepper represented the far left and was too supportive of Stalin. Pepper's opponents circulated widely a 49-page booklet titled The Red Record of Senator Claude Pepper.

Part of American political lore is the Smathers "redneck speech," which Smathers reportedly delivered to a poorly educated audience. The "speech" was never given; it was a hoax dreamed up by one reporter. Smathers did not say, as was reported in Time Magazine during the campaign: "Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, habitually practiced celibacy."

The Smathers campaign denied his having made the speech, as did the reporters who covered his campaign, but the hoax followed Smathers to his death.

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