A recent book by Newsweek journalist Jonathan Alter about Franklin Roosevelt’s first 100 days in office, The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006), paints a startling picture of the political climate in the United States in the dark days of early 1933.
Roosevelt’s Inaugural Address had begun the process of restoring hope, but not everyone caught the new mood right away. The press coverage that morning largely downplayed or ignored FDR’s line: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The New York Times and most other newspapers relegated the line to their inside pages, while focusing instead on the vivid wartime allusions he employed five times during his speech—martial metaphors that suggested that there was, in fact, plenty to fear after all. The greatest applause line from the large crowd on the east side of the Capitol came when Roosevelt said that if his rescue program was not quickly approved: “I shall ask Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis: broad executive power to wage war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.”
Within a few years, “dictator” would carry sinister tones, but—hard as it is to believe now—the word had a reassuring ring that season. So did “storm troopers,” used by one admiring author to describe foot soldiers of the early New Deal, and “concentration camps,” a generic term routinely applied to the work camps of the Civilian Conservation Corps that would be established by summer across the country.(see here and here and Rex84)
The propaganda machine, owned by the elite, was ready to be put into action in the defense of the property of the rich:
"The most powerful American publisher, William Randolph Hearst, seemed to favor dictatorship. The Hearst empire extended to Hollywood, where Hearst that winter had personally supervised the filming of an upcoming hit movie called Gabriel Over the White House that was meant to instruct FDR and prepare the public for a dictatorship. The movie’s hero is a president played by Walter Huston who dissolves Congress, creates an army of the unemployed, and lines up his enemies before a firing squad. FDR not only saw an advance screening of the film, he offered ideas for script rewrite"(Ibid., p. 6)