As Ken Burns series continues on PBS: The following happened 80 years ago this month, just after "Uppie," the former Socialist, swept the Democratic primary for governor of California leading one of great grassroots movements ever, EPIC (End Poverty in California)--and seemed headed for victory in November. His meeting with a very friendly FDR at Hyde Park seemed to clinch the deal. They even chatted about Teddy Roosevelt's response to Upton's The Jungle 30 years back. Then Roosevelt and his top aides screwed him, backing his right-wing dullard GOP opponent.
Eleanor backed Sinclair in epic race--but FDR instructed aides to tell her to remain silent, and she did. Sinclair wrote her a key private letter after meeting with the president, but she was away when it arrived, and the aides opened it and informed the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover, no less.
And the dirtiest, and one of the most influential, campaigns in USA history--it virtually created the modern campaign--emerged to defeat him. Hollywood took its first all-out plunge into politics and the saintly Irving Thalberg created the very attack ads for the screen. See a trailer below for my book on what led to all this: