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Mo Rocca explains his love of "mediocre presidents"

Mo Rocca, a humorist and correspondent for "CBS Sunday Morning," shared his love for what he called "mediocre presidents" in this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast. 

He spoke to CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett about his visits to the houses of little known presidents like Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison.

"I found something intriguing but also sweet and even inspiring about people who are dedicating themselves to keeping alive little pieces of history that, without volunteer support, might fall by the wayside," Rocca said about the docents of these historical sites, which are often privately managed.

Listen to this episode on ART19

He said that some presidents are considered mediocre because they served during "placid times," or were "victims of a time when the executive branch was really weak and Congress was really strong." Rocca believes that the presidents between Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, broadly speaking, fit into this category. But he cautioned against reading biographies that "magnify the importance" of certain presidents.

"Even the mediocre presidents are the above-the-title film stars of the day, and now they're largely forgotten, and maybe that makes sense," Rocca said.

Rocca is also the host of the popular podcast "Mobituaries," which focuses on obituaries. Rocca praised "the art of obituary writing, which is so beautiful," and raised concerns that the trend of writing in-depth obituaries is dying out.

"It's the most consistently purely narrative form of journalism," Rocca said.

For more of Major's conversation with Rocca, download "The Takeout" podcast on Art19, iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).  

Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin, Julia Boccagno and Grace Segers
Show email:
Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast
Instagram: @TakeoutPodcast

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