Hope and Satire
Throughout his career, Bob Hope received an inordinate amount of criticism when his comments seemed to cross an ever-changing line of good taste. Hope’s vaudeville act was censored in Boston. On the radio, NBC received protests when Hope made jokes about electoral politics and “faded” the audio level when he satirized the network itself. In a 1949 radio broadcast, Hope did a sketch lampooning President Harry Truman and his wife Bess that provoked many letters in protest, one of which warned, “ridicule is the surest and quickest way to weaken and destroy our respect for the highest office in our country.” Hope discovered that the ancient dangers of satire remained potent even in a nation founded on the promise of liberty.
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