(2 of 2)
Editorially, Carter's message was generally praised. The Boston Globe found it a "powerful presidential event, moving in its simplicity and significant in its reiteration of his goals." To the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the chat "came across like a cup-of-coffee conversation at the corner drugstore, instead of a discussion at the club." The New York Times, however, found "something troubling about a President's unique and unconstrained access to instruments of mass persuasion" and fretted that "Carter's hold on public opinion will be formidable."
How did Jimmy's fireside chat compare with F.D.R.'s first one? Said Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr.: "President Carter fits television like my father fitted radio." Though both delivered their talks within two weeks of assuming power (F.D.R. on the eighth night), the differences were great. "Let us unite in banishing fear," said Roosevelt, and he made huge news by announcing that the nation's banks, closed by his order, would begin reopening the next day. The reaction was electrifyingand overwhelmingly positive. Walter Lippmann declared: "The nation, which had lost confidence in everything and everybody, has regained confidence in the Government and in itself." Said William Randolph Hearst: "I guess at your next election we will make it unanimous."
Carter appeared self-assured and comforting, but could not match Roosevelt for the sheer drama of the situation or the rhetoric of the speech. Many who watched, though, seemed more interested hi the President's unusual costume than in anything else. Said one Wall Street executive: "I don't like a President in a sweater." The conservative Chicago Tribune found the sweater "a little too folksy to be real." Some viewers also chided Carter for saying little new or speaking too soon. But, in sum, the relaxed and reassuring Carter styleand Carter's cardiganseemed to affect most Americans like a mild and warming breeze in a nerve-racking winter.
* Fitzpatrick shot a man to death in 1970. She had worked for the Carters while he was Governor as part of a prison trusty program for exemplary inmates.