Hoover: The Press and Presidential Failure

  • Stephen Ponder


The disastrous single term of Herbert Hoover has become synonymous with presidential failure in the political history of the twentieth century. Hoover carried 40 of the 48 states in the 1928 election as the nation’s “master of emergencies,” a humane, hard-working, efficient public official. Four years later, Hoover was a figure of public ridicule, the subject of scornful jokes and partisan attacks about his inability to end the country’s economic collapse. Hoover was easily defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt when he sought reelection in 1932, and the image of Hoover’s failed presidency has been carried forward by generations of historians.1


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    For a historiographic overview, see Ellis W. Hawley, “Herbert Hoover and Modern American History: Sixty Years and After,” 1–38, in Mark Dodge, ed., Herbert Hoover and the Historians (West Branch, Ia.: Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association, 1989).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Martin L. Fausold, The Presidency of Herbert C. Hoover (Lawrence, Kans.; University Press of Kansas, 1985), 203—5.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Joan Hoff Wilson, “Herbert Hoover: The Popular Image of an Unpopular President,” in Lee Nash, ed., Understanding Herbert Hoover: Ten Perspectives (Stanford, Calif: Hoover Institution Press, 1987), 1—26. See also Wilson, Herbert Hoover: Forgotten Progressive. Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    John Kenneth Galbraith, The Great Crash of 1929 (New York: Avon, 1979), 120—6, 149. A revised view of Hoover’s long public career has emerged since opening of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library archives in 1966. See, for example,Google Scholar
  5. Richard Norton Smith, An Uncommon Man:The Triumph of Herbert Hoover (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984).Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Malcolm M. Willey and Stuart A. Rice, eds., Communications Agencies and Social Life (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1933), 167–70.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    William Press Beazell, “The Party Flag Comes Down,” Atlantic Monthly 147 (March 1931): 366—72.Google Scholar
  8. See also Beazell, “Tomorrow’s Newspaper,” Atlantic Monthly 146 (July 1930): 24–30.Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    Walter Lippmann, “Two Revolutions in the American Press,” Yale Review 20 (March 1931): 433—41. On the development of objectivity as a professional norm, see Schudson, Discovering the News. Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    Raymond G. Carroll, “Reform v. the Washington Correspondent,” Editor and Publisher 61 (21 July 1928): 7, 44.Google Scholar
  11. 15.
    William G. Shepherd, “The White House Says,” Collier’s 83 (February 1929): 19, 47–9.Google Scholar
  12. 20.
    George H. Manning, “White House Writers Hold Annual Frolic,” Editor and Publisher 62 (15 March 1930): 26.Google Scholar
  13. 22.
    See, as examples, William G. Shepherd, “Our Ears in Washington,” Everybody’s 43 (October 1920): 68—73. “How the White House Became a Glass House,” Literary Digest 88 (20 February 1926): 38, 40, 45.Google Scholar
  14. J. Frederick Essary, “Presidents, Congress and the Press Correspondents,” American Political Science Review 22 (November 1928): 902—9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 23.
    See, for example, L. Ames Brown, “President Wilson and Publicity,” Harper’s Weekly 58 (1 November 1913): 19–21.Google Scholar
  16. 24.
    T. W. Williams, “Temptations of a Young Journalist,” Cosmopolitan 40 (April 1906): 680–1.Google Scholar
  17. 29.
    J. Bart Campbell, “White House Rules Out Stenographers,” Editor and Publisher 58 (27 June 1925): 14.Google Scholar
  18. 30.
    See David Lawrence, “President Coolidge’s Step Backward in Office Press Relationship,” Editor and Publisher 58 (4 July 1925): 3.Google Scholar
  19. A. H. Kirchhofer, “Correspondent Wrathful at His Fellows Covering the White Court,” Editor and Publisher 58 (8 August 1925): 6.Google Scholar
  20. 31.
    The quotation is from Oswald Garrison Villard, “The Press and the President: Should the President be Quoted Directly and Indirectly,” Century 111 (December 1925): 195–200.Google Scholar
  21. See also Bulkley Southworth Griffin, “The Public Man and the Newspapers,” Nation 120 (17 June 1925): 689–90.Google Scholar
  22. 32.
    Charles Merz, “Silent Mr. Coolidge,” New Republic 47 (2 June 1926): 51–4.Google Scholar
  23. 35.
    David Lawrence, “The President and the Press,” Saturday Evening Post 200 (27 August 1927): 27, 117–8.Google Scholar
  24. Willis Sharp, “President and Press,” Atlantic Monthly 140 (August 1927): 239–45.Google Scholar
  25. Charles W. Thompson, “Coolidge Has Learned the Art of Publicity,” New York Times, 1 August 1927, 8, 11.Google Scholar
  26. 37.
    “News Writers Expect Hoover to Continue ‘Spokesman’ Plan,” Editor and Publisher 61 (10 November 1928): 18. George H. Manning, “Liberalizing of President’s Contacts with Press Hoped for from Hoover,” Editor and Publisher 61 (12 January 1929): 5–6.Google Scholar
  27. 38.
    “Confer with Hoover on News Methods,” Editor and Publisher 61 (2 March 1929): 12. George H. Manning, “Hoover Liberalizes Press Conferences,” Editor and Publisher 61 (9 March 1929): 7. Liebovich, Bylines in Despair, 90–1.Google Scholar
  28. 39.
    George H. Manning, “Hoover’s Press System Best Instituted by Any President, Capital Writers Say,” Editor and Publisher 61 (16 March 1929): 5.Google Scholar
  29. 42.
    Ray T.Tucker, “Mr. Hoover Lays a Ghost,” North American Review 227 (June 1929): 661—9. For Tucker’s pre-election view, see “Is Hoover Human?” North American Review 226 (November 1928): 513–9.Google Scholar
  30. 43.
    The quotations are from Paul Y. Anderson, “The President Goes Into Action,” Nation 128 (3 April 1929): 394–5.Google Scholar
  31. 45.
    George H. Manning, “White House Corps in New Quarters,” Editor and Publisher 62 (5 October 1929): 8. “Reporters Hoover’s Guests after Fire,” Editor and Publisher 63 (28 December 1929): 10.Google Scholar
  32. 46.
    Fauneil J. Rinn, “President Hoover’s Bad Press,” San Jose Studies 1 (February 1975): 32—44. Stanley and Niemi, Vital Statistics on American Politics, 50.Google Scholar
  33. 48.
    George H. Manning, “President Cancels a Press Conference,” Editor and Publisher 62 (7 September 1929): 12.Google Scholar
  34. 49.
    Harold Brayman, “Hooverizing the Press,” Outlook and Independent 156 (24 September 1930): 123—5, 155, outlines the complaints of the correspondents. Liebovich, Bylines in Despair, 112–4.Google Scholar
  35. 53.
    George H. Manning, “White House is Best Source for Rapidan Camp 100 Miles Away,” Editor and Publisher 62 (13 July 1929) : 15. Anderson, “Hoover and the Press,” 383.Google Scholar
  36. 55.
    For a collection of the various complaints by the correspondents, see George H. Manning, “President Hoover and White House Corps at Odds over News ‘Leaks,’” Editor and Publisher 64 (11 July 1931): 15, and “Strained Air Pervades White House Circles as White House ‘Leak’ is Sought,” Editor and Publisher 64 (18 July 1931): 10. Manning, “Hoovers Seek Source of ‘Talkie’ Story,” Editor and Publisher 64 (14 November 1931): 8. Liebovich, Bylines in Despair, 146–7.Google Scholar
  37. 56.
    For a prescient observation, see J. Fred Essary, “Hoover, Sensitive to Criticism, Will Tighten Relations with Press,” Editor and Publisher 61 (16 February 1929): 8. See also I. H. Hoover, Forty-Two Years in the White House, 188.Google Scholar
  38. 58.
    Robert S. Allen and Drew Pearson, Washington Merry-Go-Round (New York: Horace Liveright, 1931). “Political Notes: Merry-Go-Round,” Time 18 (4 September 1931): 18.Google Scholar
  39. George H. Manning, “Monitor’s Financial Chief Dismissed,” Editor and Publisher 64 (September 1931): 12.Google Scholar
  40. 59.
    TRB, “Washington Notes,” New Republic 61 (22 January 1930): 248–9.Google Scholar
  41. 60.
    Will Kollock, “The Story of a Friendship: Mark Sullivan and Herbert Hoover,” Pacific Historian 18 (Spring 1974), 31—48. I. H. Hoover, Forty-Two Years at the White House, 209.Google Scholar
  42. 62.
    Richard V. Oulahan, “Capitol Corps Praised for Diligence,” Editor and Publisher 63 (25 April 1931): 32. See also Ritchie, Press Gallery, 213–6.Google Scholar
  43. 63.
    TRB, “Washington Notes,” New Republic 61 (22 January 1930): 248–9.Google Scholar
  44. 65.
    Frank R. Kent, “Charley Michelson,” Scribner’s 88 (September 1930): 290–6.Google Scholar
  45. 66.
    Lloyd, Aggressive Introvert, 172. George H. Manning, “Wickersham Report Easily Handled,” Editor and Publisher 63 (24 January 1931): 6.Google Scholar
  46. 68.
    For the first two installments, see George H. Manning, “Subtle Censorship on Government News is Arising Steadily in Washington,” Editor and Publisher 64 (5 September 1931): 5—6,Google Scholar
  47. and Manning, “Washington Corps Plans Committee to Check Official News Stifling,” Editor and Publishing 64 (12 September 1931): 12. See also an editorial, “No Political Censorship,” Editor and Publisher 64 (26 September 1931): 48,Google Scholar
  48. and Manning, “White House News Ban on Bank Parley Upset by Correspondents,” Editor and Publisher 64 (10 October 1931): 4–5.Google Scholar
  49. 69.
    George H. Manning, “Joslin Suggests News ‘Consultations,’” Editor and Publisher 64 (19 September 1931): 7.Google Scholar
  50. 70.
    Elliott Thurston, “Hoover Can Not Be Elected,” Scribner’s 91 (January 1932): 13–16.Google Scholar
  51. 71.
    Ray T. Tucker, The Mirrors of 1932 (New York: Brewer, Warren and Putnam, 1931), 23.Google Scholar
  52. 73.
    Herbert Corey, “The Presidents and the Press,” Saturday Evening Post 204 (9 January 1932) : 25, 96—104. On Lorimer’s role, see Tebbel and Watts, The Press and the Presidency, 415–7.Google Scholar
  53. 75.
    Walter Millis, “The President,” Atlantic Monthly 149 (March 1921) : 265–78.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Stephen Ponder 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Ponder

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations