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Theodore Roosevelt: Publicity! Publicity! Publicity!

  • Stephen Ponder
Chapter

Abstract

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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Notes

  1. 1.
    See, among others, Lewis L. Gould, The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt (Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1991), 20—1; 153–4; Hilderbrand, Power and the People, 52–71, andjuergens, News from the White House, 14–90.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    John Orinan, “Covering the American Presidency: Valenced Reporting in the Periodical Press,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 14 (Summer 1984): 381–90.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The quotation is from Archie Butt to Mrs. Lewis F. B. Butt, 28 March 1909, in Lawrence F.Abbott, ed., Taft and Roosevelt: The Intimate Letters of Archie Butt, 2 vols. (NewYork: Doubleday, Doran, 1930), 1:28–32.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    William Allen White, Masks in a Pageant (New York: Macmillan, 1928), 309.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Willis J. Abbot, Watching the World Go By (Boston: Little, Brown, 1924), 244.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Victor Proud (Richard V. Oulahan), “Roosevelt, the Politician,” Saturday Evening Post, 21 September 1907, 6—7, 31. Copy in Box 2, Richard V. Oulahan Papers, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Mark Sullivan, Our Times, 1 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1926), 1:74–5.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Edmund Morris, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1979), 159–97, 227–40.Google Scholar
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  10. 9.
    Henry F. Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt: A Biography (New York: Harcourt, Brace., 1931), 69–71.Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    Elting S. Morison, ed., The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, 10 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1951), 1:447.Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    Joseph Bucklin Bishop, Theodore Roosevelt and His Time: Shown in His Own Letters, 2 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1920), 1:59—60.Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    Theodore Roosevelt, An Autobiography (New York: Macmillan, 1914), 177.Google Scholar
  14. 13.
    William B. Gatewood Jr., Theodore Roosevelt and the Art of Controversy (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1970).Google Scholar
  15. 14.
    The meeting is described in Lincoln Steffens, The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens, 2 vols. (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1931), 1:256—7.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1907 [1890]).Google Scholar
  17. 29.
    Richard Hofstadter, The Age of Reform (New York: Vintage Books, 1995), 198–214.Google Scholar
  18. 30.
    Henry C. Adams, “What is Publicity?” North American Review 175 (December 1902): 894.Google Scholar
  19. Other examples include J. Allen Smith, The Spirit of American Government (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1965 [1909]), 373–4;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  22. 31.
    Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward from the Year 2000 (New York: New American Library, 1960 [1888]), 119.Google Scholar
  23. 33.
    Edward Alysworth Ross, Sin and Society (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1907, 23–4). Roosevelt to Ross, 19 September 1907, in Morison, The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, 5:4448.Google Scholar
  24. 34.
    Oliver K. Gramling, AP: The Story of News (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1940), 156–7, 190.Google Scholar
  25. 36.
    Stephen Ponder, “E. W. Scripps and the Progressive Movement, 1908–1912,” in A Celebration of the Legacies of E. W. Scripps (Athens: Ohio University, 1990).Google Scholar
  26. 39.
    The quotation is from Will Irwin, The American Newspaper (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1966 [1911]), 18.Google Scholar
  27. 40.
    The transient nature of reporting as a craft in this period is documented by Ted Curtis Smythe, “The Reporter, 1880–1900: Working Conditions and Their Influence on News,” Journalism History 7 (1980): 1—10.Google Scholar
  28. 41.
    Gardner,”Between the Quotes,” Editor and Publisher 5 (31 March 1906): 1.Google Scholar
  29. 42.
    The quotations are from Louis Brownlow, A Passion for Politics, 2 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955), 1:399.Google Scholar
  30. 45.
    Nicholas Roosevelt, The Man as I Knew Him (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1967), 39.Google Scholar
  31. 47.
    J.J. Dickinson, “Theodore Roosevelt, Press Agent: And What His Newspaper ‘Cuckoos’ have done for Him,” Harper’s Weekly 51 (28 September 1907): 1410.Google Scholar
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    Oscar King Davis, Released for Publication: Some Inside Political History of Theodore Roosevelt and His Times (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1925), 123—4.Google Scholar
  33. 52.
    Henry L. Stoddard, As I Knew Them: Presidents and Politics from Grant to Coolidge (NewYork: Harper and Brothers, 1927), 373.Google Scholar
  34. 54.
    The quotation is from Charles Willis Thompson, Presidents I’ve Known and Two Near-Misses (Indianapolis, Ind: Bobbs-Merrill, 1929), 118–9.Google Scholar
  35. 57.
    T. W. Williams, “Temptations of a Young Journalist,” Cosmopolitan 40 (April 1906): 680—1, discusses the consequences to a correspondent’s career of angering Roosevelt or Loeb.Google Scholar
  36. 63.
    Louis Koenig, The Invisible Presidency (New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1960), 172—7, describes Loeb as “in all but name the President’s press secretary.”Google Scholar
  37. 66.
    The leading women’s magazines also had their own brand of muckraking. See Kathleen L. Endres, “Women and the ‘Larger Household’: The ‘Big Six’ and Muckraking,” American Journalism 14 (Nos. 3–4, Summer-Fall 1997): 262–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 68.
    Hofstadter, The Age of Reform (New York: Vintage Books, 1955), 204–14, discusses the privileged backgrounds of many of the magazine reformers.Google Scholar
  39. 69.
    The article appeared as William Allen White, “Piatt,” McClure’s 18 (December 1901): 145–53. See Roosevelt to William Allen White, 31 December 1901, in Morison, The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, 3:2246.Google Scholar
  40. 70.
    White, The Autobiography of William Allen White (New York: Macmillan, 1946), 346–7.Google Scholar
  41. 76.
    Roosevelt to Ray Stannard Baker, 9 April 1906, cited in Baker, American Chronicle (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1945), 203. Roosevelt nevertheless kept up his letters trying to influence Baker’s articles. See Roosevelt to Baker, 3 June 1908, in Morison, The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, 6:4737. Lincoln Steffens was also displeased by Roosevelt’s remarks. See Steffens, The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens, 1:581.Google Scholar
  42. 80.
    Gifford Pinchot, Breaking New Ground (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1947), 144–5.Google Scholar
  43. 81.
    Richard Norton Smith, “America’s House,” in Frank Freidel and William Pencak, eds., The White House: The First Two Hundred Years (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1994), 32—3, 37–8. Gould, The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, 102. “Press Room at the White House,” Journalist 32 (22 November 1902): 54.Google Scholar
  44. 87.
    Lewis L. Gould, “Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and the Emergence of the Modern Presidency,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 19 (Winter 1989): 43.Google Scholar
  45. 88.
    Juergens, News from the White House, 36–40. See also Stacey Rozek, “The First Daughter of the Land: Alice Roosevelt as Presidential Celebrity, 1902–1906,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 19 (Winter 1989): 51–70.Google Scholar
  46. 95.
    I. H. Hoover, Forty-Two Years in the White House (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1934), 27.Google Scholar

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© Stephen Ponder 1998

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  • Stephen Ponder

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