Monday, October 3, 2011

Ken Burns' "Prohibition": Epic Fail

Part Two of Ken Burns' latest film, Prohibition, aired tonight on PBS. This part of the series highlighted the tension between the Eighteenth ( or "Prohibition") Amendment (1919) and the Volstead Act, but completely failed to mention the fact that President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the Volstead Act (or National Prohibition Act). Congress overrode Wilson's veto within two days, however, and the game was on.

Consequently, filmaker Burns also failed to mention the fact that President Wilson set records in his use of the pardon power and a very large number of his pardons were granted to persons that violated laws related to drugs and intoxicating liquors.

Indeed, the only mention of presidential pardons (in this, THE Golden Age of presidential pardons) that Burns makes in the entire episode relates to the unsubstantiated rumors the Warren Harding's Attorney General, Harry Daugherty, sold pardons.

What a shame it is to see such an acclaimed filmaker miss such important marks in an elaborate effort.

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