December 28, 2005

When the Truth is Poor Copy

I suppose this isn't exactly brand new news, but it was certainly new to me: according to this LA Times article, personal letters indicate that Upton Sinclair discovered that Sacco and Vanzetti were in fact guilty in the course of his research for Boston. Yet he decided not to let this knowledge influence his work, for tactical and strategic reasons:

"My wife is absolutely certain that if I tell what I believe, I will be called a traitor to the movement and may not live to finish the book," Sinclair wrote Robert Minor, a confidant at the Socialist Daily Worker in New York, in 1927.

"Of course," he added, "the next big case may be a frame-up, and my telling the truth about the Sacco-Vanzetti case will make things harder for the victims."

He also worried that revealing what he had been told would cost him readers. "It is much better copy as a na´ve defense of Sacco and Vanzetti because this is what all my foreign readers expect, and they are 90% of my public," he wrote to Minor.

Posted by Dr. Frank at December 28, 2005 06:30 PM | TrackBack