March 22, 2023
Audio Features
Sokolsky on the Arts and Entertainment
A weekly program focusing on the arts and entertainment
John Adams was the first vice president of the United States and the nation's second president. Those facts are made clear in the HBO miniseries dealing with his life.

However, Arts and Entertainment Editor Bob Sokolsky notes, little else about Adams has ever been made clear. And he points to different studies of the man and the equally different ways he and many of his contemporaries have been portrayed on TV, in movies and in books.

Because, Sokolsky says, Adams is far from the only figure to receive such treatment. Others have been too and they run a wide range from George Washington to Wyatt Earp.

Washington, for example, is unlikely to have chopped down his daddy's cherry tree. And Babe Ruth was not serenaded in his final days by street urchins gathering beneath his hospital window to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

Sokolsky calls it one more example of printing the legend when it becomes bigger than the fact.

That has led to some strange tails that were absolutely false stories like Washington admitting he chopped down his father's cherry tree to Babe Ruth spending his final days being serenaded by street urchins standing beneath his hospital window to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game, in two-part harmony.

As to why such things occur, Sokolsky cites the answer given by the newspaper editor in one of the final scenes of "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." When the legend becomes bigger than the fact, print the legend.
Episode Date: March 28, 2008
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