The Internet is full of crazy stories. It’s a place where you can read article after article explaining why Gandhi and Mother Teresa were monsters or about all the wonderful, underappreciated things that Hitler did. It’s a place where surprise is the greatest currency—and often more valuable than the truth.
Even humble Fred Rogers, the charming, mild-mannered man who graced our childhoods with his soft smiles and cardigan sweaters, has been mercilessly pulled apart. In the absence of any real dirt on the man, people have taken to making up stories to make him sound like everything he wasn’t.
But Fred Rogers wasn’t a hardened criminal, a secret pedophile, or anything else you may have heard. He was, in the words of one who knew him, “essentially the same guy off camera as he was on-camera.” He was a mild-mannered man who didn’t even smoke or drink, every bit as wholesome as he seemed.