The Talkative President: The Off-The-Record Press Conferences of Calvin Coolidge

By Howard H. Quint; Robert H. Ferrell et al. | Go to book overview

2 • The Press Conference

THE Coolidge press conference marked the beginning of serious presidential meetings with the press. Before Coolidge the Presidents of course had taken precautions with reporters, but their relationship with the press had been spasmodic and not always effective. Sometimes the Presidents simply had sought to overawe. The youthful William Allen White was highly annoyed when he sought to interview William McKinley. The President, according to White, stepped up on a pedestal and turned to marble. Theodore Roosevelt had good press relations, but no regular meetings. He dealt with the press in a highly personal way; if a correspondent strayed from friendship Roosevelt would cast him into outer darkness. William H. Taft was always awkward with the press and sometimes downright hostile. Woodrow Wilson gave the press a certain attention, even to the point of instituting regular press sessions, but dropped the idea during the war. Trying to be as helpful as possible, Warren Harding saw "the boys" regularly during his brief term in office -- and on some occasions was too helpful for his own good. It remained for the careful Coolidge to put press conferences on a schedule, to solicit press backing for his administration, generously giving them news and hoping that on their side the press would respond with sympathetic stories. Usually they did so. In The Nation of March 16, 1927, Frank Kent noted, "Since Mr. Coolidge entered the White House he has had more solid press support than any other President. Frequently he has through the Spokesman expressed his appreciation. It would be strange indeed if he did not feel it."

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The Talkative President: The Off-The-Record Press Conferences of Calvin Coolidge
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Contents xi
  • Introduction 1
  • I 5
  • 1 - Fundamental Vermont 7
  • 2 - The Press Conference 20
  • 3 - Life as President 35
  • II 51
  • 4 - Office of the President 53
  • 5 - The Role of Congress 87
  • 6 - Frugal Government 102
  • 7 - The Domestic Economy 113
  • III 145
  • 8 - The Defense Establishment 147
  • 9 - Debts and Reparations 174
  • 10 - The Old World and the New 201
  • 11 - Vexations of Imperial Power 222
  • 12 - Coping with China and Russia 254
  • Index 267
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