tv Garrison Keillor at the National Press Club CSPAN July 4, 2015 1:30pm-2:31pm EDT
i want to welcome our c-span and public radio audience and remind you you can follow the action today on twitter, use the #npclunch. and remember, people are attending during this lunch, so applause is not evidence of a lack of journalistic object to -- objectivity. and are guest today is a humorist and radio personality best known as the voice of the radio program lake wobegon. he says that men are above
average, children are hard-working, and women are strong. as a humorist, garrison keillor is often compared with mark twain and will rogers. like mr. rogers, garrison keillor has made multiple visits the national press club. he spoke in 1986, and 1987 and spoke again in 1994 after 21 years we are so glad he is back again and clearly he was waiting until minnesota was in charge of the place before he was going to come back. garrison keillor is in the nation's capital for performances today and tomorrow and this summer he hits the road for up prairie home companion's america the beautiful. this is a tour of 30 cities in 36 days. his latest book, "the keillor
reader" just came out in softcover, and on july 4th, a prairie home companion will celebrate its forty-onest anniversary with a live album broadcast in st. paul and mcallister college. that was the location of the first broadcast of "a prairie home companion" on july 6th, 1974. garrison keillor is active in democratic politics so he may have a off or two about that subject. he is going to talk with us about 15 things that need to happen tomorrow. ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm national press club welcome to garrison keillor. [applause] garrison: thank you very much. john, you are much too kind. don't make that mistake again. you will be held to account for it. it is an honor to be here with you and such a great honor that i have gone to the lengths of writing out the speech which i never ever do. reminds me too much of being in college. 15 things that need to change right away is the revised title of my speech.
[laughter] garrison: i came up with this because i was thinking about another speech i gave which was a great honor. i was invited to give the baccalaureate address at princeton university. i was up in princeton earlier this week and it all came back to me much too clearly. i wrote this speech. i thought i should say something inspiring to these young graduates, something about life is adversity, it is in struggle that we come to understand ourselves. i thought i should make it funny and so i worked on that end i had a story about the first out house tipping that i experienced in minnesota which i was very much involved in, as a victim.
[laughter] garrison: but you can change these things around, but then i wasn't sure princeton graduates would know what an outhouse was. [laughter] garrison: but then i went up in princeton with this speech in my pocket, and it was an academic procession through the campus, through these awestruck crowds and all these people with gorgeous academic groves and multicolored hoods and ashes and -- sashes and so on like having gotten a phd at oxford or cambridge or the university of dubai or the university of phoenix or whatever. [laughter] garrison: there i was in this plain black robe which seemed to say "vocational school."
[laughter] garrison: i made my way into the great gothic chapel player and got this introduction even more roasts than john's which sounded so much like a eulogy and then i made my way to the pulpit. you have to cross over and then climb the steep stairway, two part stairway to the poll but which is up against a stone wall. the applause lasted about half way up. so the first thing the audience heard from me was heavy breathing and i launched into this speech which was funny. i mean, it was conceptually funny. [laughter] garrison: and there was nothing. people sort of looked studious and their eyes were closed, some of them, and there was a little bit of laughter way off in the corner, but not much. it dawned on me about three minutes into this 20 minute
speech that my voice was bouncing around in all of this gothic grandeur, and i could hear things i had said 15 or 20 seconds before. [laughter] garrison: so that the people who were sitting out in front of me could not hear a single word i was -- i mean, they could hear a few words -- but not whole sentences. and i cut about 10 minutes out of the speech by illuminating pages four and five and shot to the end, and there was grateful applause and i came down and through the crowd to a reception and people walked up to me and said "good job." [laughter] garrison: nothing specific. [laughter] garrison: good job.
as if you would say that to a child who had a bowel movement. [laughter] garrison: not that i disagree with that fourth point that you made, which i hadn't made, and it donned on me, i thought at this reception and in the long painful ride home to minnesota that as i look back on my career in broadcasting, nobody had ever consummated me on a specific thing. nobody had ever quoted back to me some brilliant thing that i had ever said. it was always general. the quote we like your show -- "we like your show." "it really relaxes our children." "we listen to it late at night." [laughter] garrison: and it occurred to me that i had 40 years in radio as
a sort of comforting, baritone presence and that nobody had heard anything in particular the head said. -- that i had said. i willing to accept that. i am a christian, we want to be of service. but today, i wanted to give a speech that is a little bit more specific so that you will find things to disagree about. it is inspired by the feeling that i had when president obama announced back in december that the administration is going to pursue an opening to cuba. this was thrilling to me. it was like spring coming to minnesota in mid-june. it was like, it was like when the plane finally begins to move and you have been sitting on the tarmac for hours, perhaps days, you've lost track, you
have heard one explanation after another, whether related air traffic control, a flashing light in the cockpit, one pilot is depressed, i don't know what. [laughter] garrison: and then finally you begin to move and you feel incredulity. that is how i felt when the president announced that. and things started to move forward. somebody in washington was recognizing reality. and this, to the rest of us, is just astonishing. i was a college kid when this blockade of cuba went into effect. i was a poet. i was writing pellets -- poems in all lowercase letters. and now i am on social security. now people address me as server. people ask me, would you like to
use the stairs or take the elevator? all of this time has gone by and to see the government move on this is astonishing. something happened. something was done. and now you hear about a ferry service that is going to open a between miami, key west, and havana. the minnesota orchestra has gone on tour to cuba. they were thrilled, they came back ecstatic. they are musicians. they never get a static -- ecstatic. [laughter] garrison: things are happening. it is so utterly astonishing the president recognizing reality. i felt the same way when he announced he was going to take executive action to protect 5 million undocumented workers from deportation. nobody was ever talking about deporting these people because
they work, we need them, they are part of our economy. perhaps 11 million undocumented workers. nobody was talking about shipping and house. the work, the paperwork, astonishing to think of what it would take and nobody wants to send them away so why not recognize them and give them some stability in our country so that people cannot pay them $0.85 an hour and have the work 85 hour weeks? why not? this was astonishing. somebody in washington recognizing reality. and so my speech today. 15, numbered, 15 numbered sings -- things that need to happen, that need to happen tomorrow. washington has such a reputation for in action and blockade and dysfunction -- inaction and blockade and dysfunction that
some sort of symbolic thing would be a good first move. i think it is time to finally name the streets of downtown that only have initial letters. [laughter] garrison: everybody else names their streets, and why not? i think they should be named for philosophers just to give the city some tone, you know, some class. only suggestions, but emerson franklin hegel, henry james, kierkegaard for k street, martin luther. machiavelli, of course. and so on. number 2. see how quickly the speech moves along? [laughter] garrison: number 2, i think we need to relax with the flag pins. i am not looking at anybody right now. [laughter] garrison: it just seems to me
that it has become a requirement for anybody running for public office in america to put a little flag pin on their lapel. it has become required that the president, and every speech with god bless america just so people won't question whether or not he loves his country and i think it is a bad way to go. this is a free country. it really is. i mean, it is trying to be. and parts of it certainly are. and there should not be any requirement that we wear a badge or symbol in this country. this is not germany in the 1930s when you were required to wear an arm band and the swastika had to be the right size end you had to say "hiel" pronouns
it correctly and your right arm had to be at the correct angle. let's not go too far. i looked senator john mccain's web site and there are pictures of him there and he has no flag pin in his lapel. if he doesn't need to wear one then neither do you. i think we should put out a cease and desist order on the announcements still heard in airports in this country to notify authorities if a person or persons unknown to you come up and ask you to carry something aboard the aircraft. nobody has ever done this. [laughter] garrison: nobody. nobody. nobody ever will do this. this is fiction and it is not harmful to anybody to have fiction, but it gives young people the sense that authorities are not in touch with reality. and there is enough evidence of that already without adding, without adding to the. -- to that.
[laughter] garrison: i also think we can continue the movement in this country to remove some of those fortifications, barriers, the flower pots and so forth that were put up in public places to prevent someone driving with explosives. they do not have a good purpose. they're more symbolic and anything else, symbolic security is dangerous and engineers told us in the case of most of these barriers, if a truck loaded with explosives pulled alongside and was detonated, these barriers would be splintered and would become flying missiles, and we don't need anymore of that. number 4, i think we should stop making dimes, nickels and pennies. [laughter] garrison: i just think it is time. i see young people dropping small change in parking lots. i can't speak for you but i no longer bend over to pick up a
dime. [laughter] garrison: i just don't go there. the fundraiser for polio used to be called the march of dimes but diners don't march anymore. they don't. they are not worth enough. we used to say a penny for your thoughts. we don't say that anymore because it would be insulting. [laughter] garrison: so i think if we leave the current supply of small change in circulation it will gradually dissipate and disappear and these coins will in time become more valuable. so let's just try it that. number 5, we need to change the seating arrangement in the house and the senate. mix democrats and republicans in the chambers so that members don't have to reach across the aisle. they can just turn to the person next to the meinhold out their
hand if they wish. schoolteachers know that when clicks or gangs form in the -- cliques or gangs form in the public school, you separate them. you don't let them all sit together. we need to do this in congress. no more red on one side, blue on the other. we should go for a checkerboard effect. and seat from by seniority with the old ones way in the back and the young ones down front just so they get the idea. number 6, it just makes no sense that people who work hard cannot support themselves let alone supporting a family.
this is just part of the social compact in our country that if you work hard day and keep your nose clean, you are going to be ok but you cannot do this on the minimum wage as it exists right now unless your apartment is the back seat of your car and scorecard is up on blocks and you live on pet food. it just cannot be done. los angeles did something about that this weekend the rest of us should do something about it tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. the way to do is to do it. number 7, here is an item for which there will be no applause in this room. not that there was any before. [laughter] garrison: radio and television frequencies are a public resources just like public grazing lands out in wyoming and they never should have been sold. they should have been leased. maybe it is too late but when a frequency is sold, one party to another, there ought to be a flip tax of 50% of the
appreciated value that goes into the public coffers. radio and tv spectrums are public property and they should be required, radio and tv stations, to provide commercial time without charge to political candidates. is time to bring back the fairness doctrine which required stations to present a range of opinions on controversial issues. it didn't inhibit anybody, the fairness doctrine. it just meant that when top 40's patients it applied for renewal of license they had to file reports from the fcc, that at 4:00 a.m. on sunday they played something from the league of women voters and that is all they had to do. it was a ritual, and meaningless ritual. but it symbolized the fact that the station, the frequency is public property and that they had public responsibility. number 8, our u.s. seventh fleet
has been sent to support japan in its defense over islands in the south china sea which are also claimed by china, the islands which are at last word unpopulated, nobody lives out there, which makes all of this rather meaningless. we should not expect men or women to die defending rock outcroppings in the middle of large bodies of water. let the nature conservancy go out there and defend that. let greenpeace go out and defend that. number 9, bid for out in -- out in california, there is a
drought, and people try to have nice green lawns in the desert. it doesn't work. minnesota, we don't have a giant space heaters in our backyards to make it possible for us to sit in our backyards in february and barbecue. we don't expect that. so people in southern california have to learn how to love gravel . [laughter] garrison: and they have to think twice about what they are growing for export. they are major exporters of allman's and avocados and all heavy water use crops. and those are just the once a begin with the letter "a." [laughter] garrison: there are a whole lot more. california is exporting their precious water in the form of produce so the rest of us may need to accept that for second periods of the year we will need to meet frozen strawberries and not fresh strawberries. that shouldn't be so hard. number 10, thanks to alaska and texas and north dakota.
our country is close to being energy independent. for this reason we need to take a deep breath and back away from the middle east. these tribes of the middle east that european colonizers around the time of world war i packed into nation-states are not happy with each other. they need to sort them out themselves. there's not much we can do to assist that. and what we spend in iraq and afghanistan so far does not appear to have brought progress. it could have gone a long way towards repairing our crumbling infrastructure in this country. you can call this isolationism you can call it ice tea. [applause] garrison: whatever. but the president's policy of don't do stupid stuff or cause no harm, is a sensible idea.
number 11, rational conservation still has a long way to go in this country and we need to practice more of it. in minnesota we send electricity that is generated by coal, we send it to north dakota to run their oil pumps which create tens of natural gas which they simply flare off as of by product instead of using it to generate their own electricity. wrong, wrong, wrong. the era of coal-fired power plants is over. so why not bring this gently to an end? it is time to think again about nuclear power which was cheap and efficient. there were accidents, three mile island, chernobyl and japan but we can learn from these things. hollywood made some very scary movies about meltdowns but they
also made scary movies about flesh-eating zombies. and we don't lock up of ugly people who talk slow. [laughter] garrison: number 12, music and theater are businesses as much as football or casino gambling and we should use tax increment financing and enterprise zones to include the arts which would bring cities, the inner cities back to life and bring some soul back to the people who live in them. numbers 13, the country is moving rapidly in the direction of accepting gay people, as people, as people period.
the government needs to come belonged with that. sexual preference is a characteristic. it isn't the key to somebody's identity. people are more complicated than that. i had a friend who came house as -- came out as gay 20-some years ago and it was very dramatic and carried the banner, and fought for the right of gay people to adopt children, and gradually he settles into 15 years of a close, loving relationship with another man hand having won the -- and having won the right to adopt, he was free to decide he didn't want to. he was happy being an uncle landed not want to have the burden of children. number 14 -- how am i doing on time? john: you are great.
garrison: do you want me to hurry up? [laughter] do you want me to expand, read from the appendix? [laughter] garrison: john: -- garrison: number 14, let's give the word diversity rest. a year's moratorium. put it aside. we are diverse. we are one of the most diverse nations on god's green earth and it is one of the shining virtues of this country but the word diversity has been adopted by a bunch of bean counters and social engineers, all of them and the cheers. the league of american orchestras for example has set diversity as a goal. the inclusion and involvement of a broad representation of our community reflecting its true makeup including race, ethnicity and cultural backgrounds gender, sexual orientation socioeconomic status disabilities, education and religion. in other words, it is not enough to play mozart beautifully. you also have to make sure your audience includes the right
proportion of elderly disabled gay asian men who earn less than $30,000 a year but minority persons are not trophies, they are people. they have their own taste, their own predilections and and what makes mozart worth playing worth listening to, is what happens in people's hearts so subsidized concert tickets? yes. more school concert? yes, yes, yes. counting the number of hispanics at the philharmonic concert, i just don't think so. number 15, i am coming with an -- coming towards the end. there are some big changes we cannot make, simplifying the tax code would put too many accountants out of work and it would be hard to retrain those people. [laughter] garrison: fixing the health care system as a practical non
ideological matter, it can't be done until younger people get older and people my age die of f, which poor health care will hasten the process. same with climate change and environmental disaster. we have to come closer to the cliff before we can get anything done. ejecting a woman president might be nice, but she won't take office until 2017. we can however put the face of a woman on the $20 bill. that is my last suggestion. [applause] garrison: it would be so easy to do. the department of the treasury is just over the way. if you walk over on the way to the parking lot just yell up to somebody, "get rid of andrew jackson."
not worth remembering any way. harriet tubman has been proposed. i would accept that in a minute. i myself would vote for emily dickinson because in this way you cover women, english majors, unitarians and possibly, we think lesbians. [laughter] garrison: we are not absolutely sure. we don't have proof of that yet. all of these fifteenth things can be done expeditiously and what a different world this would be if we would take action. a few weeks ago the new york -- "the new york times" printed a big investigative stories on -- story on nail salons in new york city where they employed mostly immigrant people, mostly asian women, many of them don't speak english, probably undocumented, we are not sure. they need to bribe somebody in order to get a job in many of these salons, they are paid less than the minimum wage. the salon keeps up proportion of -- a proportion of the tips they
receive and they are exposed to horrific chemicals which have long-range health consequences. it was a horror that this is happening in manhattan, the most liberal city in america, just astonishing. the governor of new york two days afterward announced a crackdown, whatever that may mean, on nail salons, but it provoked every single woman in brooklyn and the upper west side of manhattan to ask some pointed questions the next time they walk into a nail salon. it was progress and it was done in a matter of days which it was like a throwback to the old days of campaigning journalism when upton sinclair wrote a big expos --expose of slaughterhouses and brought about in a remarkable short time the pure food and
drug act. let's do it again. that concludes my speech. thank you for listening. i will go back to being a comforting voice on the radio. [laughter] garrison: and continuing talking about a small town. thank you. [applause] john: thank you so much. i have so many questions about that radio program but we are talking about current affairs so i want to ask one question about current affairs before we leave that. we are talking so much about the 2016 race already, hillary clinton on the democratic side and bernie sanders and now may be -- maybe o'malley gets in, he will announce and on the republican side we have more than a dozen or more. how do you see the race and how do you like hearing about it this early before 2016 election? garrison: we are waiting for
donald trump. [laughter] garrison: we are waiting for donald trump to coming and pee-wee herman, and i hope, on the republican side and fill out that bus. democrats are kind of lacking for drama. i just don't think a guy from vermont is going to do this. so we are looking at hillary and at the same time trying not to look too hard. i like her myself. i sat next to her on a dais at the white house correspondents' dinner and she talked to me for about five minutes and she had a big republican muzzumbo on the other side of her and she talked to him for an hour and 10
minutes. exactly the right thing for a political woman to do. i was proud of her. she made the right choice. she detected that i was a supporter and didn't waste any time on me. [laughter] john: why has your radio program been so successful in its fifth decade? garrison: we don't know what success is in a radio. the listenership numbers are fictional. we toss dice and i have no idea that there are 4 million listeners. i doubt that very much. when you subtract from that 4 million, the number of incarcerated felons whose wardens set their radio dial and parents with small children who are not good sleepers, and not
all that many people. [laughter] garrison: you just don't think about it. i don't think about it at all. and i am sorry you made me think about it. [laughter] john: you often write your program, as i understand it, the day before, very quickly. where do you get the inspiration for your scripts that make the stories so modern but still retain the essence of the show's folksy charm? garrison: full could charm -- folksy charm? [laughter] garrison: did you use that word? [laughter] garrison: public. humiliation is a powerful motivator. it starts to build. here we are, a round noon on friday and i have to do a show
on saturday, and it starts to get on your mind right around this time, and even more so this afternoon. then saturday morning, it gets very intense. but the beautiful thing is that i have all of these other people who are much better organized than i, and they do the hell you -- heavy lifting. my cerebellum is my brilliant writer. [laughter] garrison: folksy charm! come on over here and i am going to put my arms around you, son! [laughter] john: we talk about the dwindling attention span in journalism for stories and so many journalists are tweeting things out now.
as someone would know, as one who performs speaking slowly and deliberately and focusing as much on the artful manner of telling the story as on the content of the story, what do you think of this year we are in now, speed and small bits of information and the art of storytelling going to endure? garrison: spitting out small bits of information is not a good way to earn in living. it is not a good life. the american people are readers, they're curious people and they want to know things and so they are abating, the readers especially the ones who are my age are waiting to hear from you younger people about the world and how you see it. don't try to do this in 140 words. it is just not the right way. i went to the speech upon wednesday. robert caro, the great biographer of lyndon baines johnson stood up and gave a talk
off-the-cuff about the research he had done on lyndon baines johnson's experience of the assassination on november 27 1963, and the research that he did. here was a journalist talking about his research and he held an enormous audience absolutely spellbound audience for 45 minutes. we want to know. we want to know these things. so don't hold back. anything that is crucial, that is important in this country somebody will write a book about it. why shouldn't you be the one? john: this question are -- questioner notes that in your book, you are a homegrown democrat and you would invite readers to spot you and a cafe to approach you and say hello
how many actually did that? garrison: usually they say i like your show. good job. [laughter] john: --garrison: the kids grow up on your show. [laughter] garrison: they are restless insomniacs and we found, out of monologues on long playing cds and put them next to their beds and everything changed. that is what they say, actually. john: people want to know what you think of that guy, douglas mark hughes, no relation, who flew the gyrocopter and the capitol lawn to protest many in politics. garrison: protest money and politics? where has he been the last 150 years? it is a middle late for that. -- it is a little late for that.
i think it was one more guy wanting to play with toys. i took it to mean they should be militarize pennsylvania avenue -- remilitarize pennsylvania avenue and put it back in its original shape. from flying the everything. taxes getting out of control would have scared the big -- would have scared the bejeezus out of him. john: did national geographic get it right when they located lake wobegon and also, there have been a surge of somalis
immigrants in the area in recent years, and in a prairie home companion, is there a need for changing demographics of lake --lake will be gone -- lake wobegon? garrison: in minnesota and in minneapolis, there are large settlements. they have him all in one a neighborhood. you walk around there, you can see the women in their long outfits but their daughters in cutoffs and lowrider jeans and jewelry in their bellybuttons. the population has not decided if they are here to stay. they have been here for decades and -- but they still believe somehow that there will be returned to their disastrously war-torn country. in the meantime they are doing the best they can. we have many listeners among the somalis to our shows. i don't know if i should
introduce a somali character and what he or she would do in lake wobegon. i should have a somali woman who could come as an intern to the lutheran church. that would be interesting. the conversion of a young woman in training to become a path. that was a possibility. but we have all of these listeners because they cannot learn english by listening to "a prairie home companion." we don't make references to politics on the show. we don't make obscure pop references at all, pop references are obscure now. and we talk slowly. and we pronounce our words and talk in whole sentences. back to you, john.
[laughter] john: a questioner wants your opinion on liberalism. do you see contradictions from lbj to today, proclaiming progress but also increasingly presiding over more economic inequality? garrison: hmm wow, that is a powerful, complicated sentence. i am not sure i could diagram that sentence. [laughter] garrison: yes of course there have been changes since then and defeats. but we don't have people running for public office against social security and medicare. so that says a lot right there. you can always run against washington. welcome to the club. but they don't get very specific about their plans for entitlement programs.
they talk about them sort of vaguely. the things that lbj and his cohorts have set up seemed fairly durable to me. [applause] john: are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of public radio and why? garrison: i am very optimistic about it. it has become an important news medium, especially in a world -- rural parts of the west, the midwest, and it has become very , very important as newspapering has been up and down and most the down public radio stations to come forward to cover local politics with some care. we started out as an alternative
medium, and we now, in many parts of the country, maybe most, finding ourselves in the mainstream. public radio does one thing that even its harshest critics, and there are many, cannot deny and that is with very few exceptions, very few, it gives uninterrupted broadcast time to people running for public office in this country. it gives you, the listener, a chance to hear them at some length and not in little tiny quotes, for that alone. john: there are several questions asking about your future.
i read in the introduction the aggressive schedule your keeping, no signs of slowing down but i also understand the prairie home companion show will keep going in your mind after you keep going. garrison: it will keep going in my mind, you say? [laughter] garrison: in my imagination? [laughter] garrison: it bumble along from week to week and we make as long term plans as anybody else does in broadcasting. it also depends on stations and to the extent of their interest and their ability to pay our extortion fees and rates and so forth and to send baked goods to us and keys to the city and other prizes, and so forth and honorary degrees. but no. i am sort of in a euphoric period. when you reach your early 70s i hope you experience the same things, field this sort of
-- you feel this sort of bounding optimism. either that or the medications. [laughter] garrison: i am just fine. and thank you for your concern. [laughter] john: one of your greatest stories on "a prairie home companion" was the prophet which you told during the 1991 persian gulf war. what would a prophet tell us now? garrison: i am not in the prophecy business and are sort of regret that monologue to. -- too. i have been trying to forget it for years and years. it was one of my ill-advised ventures into political commentary. i have almost erased it from my mind, john. you brought back a little tiny bit of it. i have no idea.
i have been around and seen a lot of young people in the last month, actually, i went to my old high school in minnesota and i went to harvard, i did a show in a mennonite school in indiana and being around people of that age is so inspiring. they are so king and so bright and have social skills we never had back in the day. young people are not afraid to look other people in the eye and they're funny and engage in dozens of things. our replacements have of
arrived. they are here. we have to come to a graceful point where we can step aside for them. as i am now stepping aside for you, john. [laughter] john: many questions about any writers or broadcasters or storytellers or musicians that you enjoy, and the upcoming people that you follow? garrison: which was this, past or future? john: currently. musicians, storytellers, offers. -- others. garrison: i love to hang out with people from texas because texas is like a foreign country to me. whenever i am with people we lost a great texas musician, johnny gimbel, the greatest storyteller i ever met. he was a barber in the army. his stories about barbering
alone, let alone his stories about willie nelson and lyle lovett and all the rest, he was a great man. had told myself 20 years ago i was going to go down to dripping springs and i was going to sit there and get johnny gimbel to talk to me and i was going to write his biography and i didn't do it and i will regret that for the rest of my days. musicians are wonderful storytellers because they don't have much money and they have to travel around and make their way -- grace -- way by the grace of other people that live on hospitality and kindness of strangers just as tennessee williams said and this makes them beautiful story tellers. we really need to let him talk more on "a prairie home companion." i will try to do that in the future. john: two interesting questions
from the audience and i will let you decide which one you want to answer. what is the meeting of life? the other question is we read "wobegon boy" in main street in class as representative of small-town america. how do you compare your minnesota with mainstream by sinclair lewis? -- "main street" by sinclair lewis? garrison: what was the meaning of sinclair lewis's life? [laughter] garrison: he was a lot funnier writer than people give him credit for. if you read "main street," i think you will see that story
about discomfort. sinclair lewis was the great american writer. i read him in junior high school. and i read that which was my favorite of all of his books. he was a satirist so they didn't care for him in minnesota. [laughter] garrison: he lived uncomfortably in st. paul for brief periods of time. he had a lot of personal troubles. but his view of small town america was colored by his own experience. he grew up a doctor's son in minnesota and he was ungainly, he was not physically well-coordinated, and he suffered a very bad facial complexion as a result of smallpox scars. so he was an outcast. he was -- he suffered terribly in his childhood. i did not. i grew up among sanctify brethren and we felt we were the chosen people. we looked down on lutherans as
being worldly and loose, and we believed win the second coming occurred that jesus would bring a special car just for us. [laughter] garrison: it is an entirely different upbringing. i led an upbringing of privilege, privilege. john: before i ask the last question, the national press club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists and we fight for a free press worldwide. to learn more about us visit press.org and to donate to nonprofit journalism institute visit press.org/institute. i want to remind you about a couple upcoming programs. the co-host of npr's "morning
edition" will talk about his book "jackson land," president and rejection, cherokee chief john ross and the great american land grab. that is next thursday at the club. he will also talk about jackson and whether he will be on the $20 bill. on june 1st more than a dozen journalists who have been fineed or jailed for their support for the first amendment will appear together at a press club event on june 1st. and now i would like to present garrison keillor with our traditional national press club mug. [laughter] [applause] john: we have a little bit of time left. one time when you were here in the past you saying a song and i am wondering if you would be interested in singing a song again? garrison: i will if they will. that is the only deal. this is going to be my sixteenth point in my speech. every morning in every public school in america all the children should face the teacher and they should all sing this song.
[applause] john: garrison keillor, since you pick a short song we have a couple minutes. [laughter] john: i have a better finale. one of the questionnaires asked why you always wear red sox. -- red socks. in addition i am told you always wear a red tie. why the red socks, why the red tie? garrison: i had a pair of red socks and i put them on for a show and people commented on it. nobody had ever commented on by wearing black or brown socks. [laughter] garrison: when you are in the business of standing up in front of people you notice these things. and i am sorry, john that it is not a longer answer but that is the truth. john: could we give a nice round
of applause? [laughter] [applause] john: we hope that you don't wait 21 more years before you come back and see us and thank you so much for being here today. we can't always guarantee that minnesotans will always be in charge, but we will always extend a warm welcome to you no matter who is running the national press club. i would also like to thank our national press club staff for putting together this program and that includes journalism institute and broadcast center and if you would like a copy of today's program or if you would like to learn more about the national press club go to that website press.org.
, thank you, we are adjourned. [applause] announcer: "new york times" editor arthur sulzberger, jr. and executive editor dean baquet speaks on c-span, tonight at 8:00 p.m.. they say that "the times" needs to change to the practical needs of journalism. >> let's put over here that the debate is saying that digital journalism is better today than it ever was. i grew up in new orleans, i grew
up reading newspapers, and i only had access to one newspaper. the same kid who grows up in new orleans in a working-class family now has access to as many newspapers as you can push a button for. we shouldn't get so caught up in the debates over the form and we shouldn't get so caught up in some of the romantic aspects of journalism, and believe me, i grew up in, to forget it is better. it is going to be better 10 years from now. >> we are in a mode and now of testing, learning, and attempting. if you don't have the courage to grow, you are going to fail. that is just the reality of the world we are in. so i actually applaud what dean and his colleagues did, which is to increasingly say, let's put the story out when the story is ready.
there are some people who are going to read it then and there are other people who are going to read it later, in print, but it is not about the device. when i say device, i mean print as well. as you so eloquently stated some decades ago, we must be platform agnostic. go to where the people are and increasingly, that is mobile. announcer: the future of "the new york times" in the digital age, with german and publisher arthur sulzberger, jr. and executive editor dean bquet -- baquet. announcer: >> c hayes was called the mother of the regiment. opposing slavery she influenced
her husband to switch to the antislavery republican party. as first lady, she hosted the first annual white house easter egg roll. lucy hayes on c-span's original series "first ladies," examining their influence on the presidency from martha washington to michelle obama on american history tv on c-span3. >> now, after gary sinise talks about his efforts to help american war veterans, an effort he first became involved in in the 1980's. plans include a museum in south carolina. he is a board member for the project. this event took place at the national press club in washington. it is an hour.