Theodore Roosevelt: Publicity! Publicity! Publicity!

  • Stephen Ponder


Theodore Roosevelt, who succeeded William McKinley in 1901, accelerated the transformation of presidential leadership that McKinley had begun. Roosevelt’s masterful management of the press to generate news coverage of himself and his policies long has been recognized.1 One study suggests that Roosevelt received the longest press “honeymoon” and the most favorable periodical coverage of any twentieth-century president.2 From the earliest days of Roosevelt’s political career, much of his public and private life seemed to take place in the pages of newspapers and magazines. “He was his own press agent, and he had a splendid comprehension of news and its value,” wrote Archie Butt, an aide to Roosevelt and to his successor, William Howard Taft.3 The journalist and admirer William Allen White agreed: “The spotlight of publicity followed Roosevelt all his life with curious devotion—by no means without Roosevelt’s encouragement.”4 To Roosevelt critics such as Willis J. Abbot, editor of Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, it seemed that “Publicity! publicity! publicity! was his slogan.”5


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© Stephen Ponder 1998

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  • Stephen Ponder

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