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Did U. of C. Professor Predict Trump Victory — In 1962?

By DNAinfo Staff | November 9, 2016 10:12am | Updated on November 10, 2016 8:26am
 Daniel Boorstin, author of
Daniel Boorstin, author of "The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America."
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University of Pennsylvania

HYDE PARK — Did a University of Chicago historian predict Donald Trump's presidency — years ago?

That's what GOP operative and Fox News contributor Karl Rove says.

Appearing on Fox News Tuesday night, Rove cited Daniel J. Boorstin, a now-deceased University of Chicago historian and former librarian of Congress who, in 1962, authored "The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America."

The book detailed  "the changing nature of the American media, which he thought was corroding a lot of the traditional sources of authority in our society, and weakening of party structures," Rove said, according to Poynter Institute media critic James Warren.

That meant that Americans would be less likely to nominate people who had experience in politics, Rove said. (Trump had never been elected to office before.)

Boorstin predicted: "We would pick people who are famous simply because they were famous," said Rove, describing Trump as a candidate "who basically used the media on his behalf to disrupt the existing political structure and existing political system."

Boorstin, who said he was inspired by the televised debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon to author the book, writes of the emergence of “a person who is known for his well-knownness.”

"If we test presiden­tial candidates by their talents on TV quiz performances, we will, of course, choose presidents for precisely these qualifica­tions," Boorstin wrote. "In a democracy, reality tends to conform to the pseudo-­event. Nature imitates art."

Amazon describes Boorstin’s book as "an essential resource for any reader who wants to distinguish the manifold deceptions of our culture from its few enduring truths."

Boorstin, who died in 2004, taught history at the U. of C. from 1944 to 1969. During the 1960s he was a controversial figure on campus. He "angered students for his opposition to affirmative action and campus protests," according to one profile.

He also is considered one of the greatest librarians of Congress for his efforts to press for funding and his intellectual vigor.

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