Roosevelt’s words, like regiments, went, yea go, marching
on. There was a voice… We shall not soon hear its like again.
—T. V. Smith, Philosopher, University of Chicago, 1948
By the time Franklin Roosevelt entered the White House, the role of media had become crucial to the success of a presidency in bringing about significant changes in domestic or foreign policies or even administering existing ones. Masterful as he was in reading manuscripts before microphone and upon the dais, FDR did not rely upon those performances alone for communicating with the American public. In press conferences, he was equally adept if not even more so. Few presidents would match his success in establishing favorable, lasting relationships with working members of the press. At the outset of his administration, the press usually referred just to newspapers and magazines, but soon radio, photography, and newsreels were added to media he could use for persuading the citizenry. He seemed to enjoy his twice-weekly meetings with the Washington press corps. In all, he held 998 press conferences, most of which he conducted like a friendly, informal schoolmaster presiding over a seminar of attentive students. He was able to influence the news gathering by the very exclusiveness of attendees, for the gatherings were limited in attendance to correspondents who had credentials from either the House or Senate Press Galleries or from the White House Correspondents Association. Moreover, only accredited correspondents could ask questions or make comments.