tv The Presidency Warren G. Harding - Newspaperman President CSPAN September 16, 2018 7:58pm-9:04pm EDT
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>> you can watch this and other american history programs on our website, where all our video is archived. that's c-span.org/history. >> warren g. harding is the only american president to have owned a newspaper, the daily star in ohio. next on the presidency, cheryl hall talks about the 29th presidents unique relationship with the press corps and the impact it had on his presidency. miss hall manages the harding home in maryland. this is part of the annual warren g. harding symposium, posted by ohio state university. it's just over an hour. >> is my pleasure to introduce a native ofesenter, maryland ohio and graduated from university in degrees in anguish and university studies.
she began her degree in journalism and served as city hall and police reporter, as well as sunday edition editor. she later served as copy editor and bureau chief at the cannes, ohio -- canton, ohio suppository. she was named manager of the harding presidential site after serving eight years as court nader as desk coordinator of the -- coordinator of the programs. will you please join me in welcoming sherry hall? [applause] miss hall: good afternoon. i'm so pleased to be able to kick off this afternoon's workshop sessions about the u.s. presidency and the press. because we are in marion, ohio and i represent the warren g. harding presidential site, it's appropriate that we start with is an harding. i think we'll find his presidency was a pivotal point in the relationship between the
white house and the press. it's appropriate that we begin our discussion of the presidency and the press with the only newspaperman to be elected president, warren g. harding. this is the only president we've had who thoroughly understood the frustration and beauty of both sides of the relationship between the white house and the press. that this messy, ever-changing relationship is a necessary part of a democracy. a're going to start with building that's very familiar to us in maryland, the press house. this is how it looks today on the left on the grounds of the harding home. was built actually on the property next door in the backyard of george christian junior, who was harding's personal secretary in the senate. and he actually abandoned his house during the 1920 campaign that warren harding staged from his front porch. rented it to the republican
party for $75 a month. a little extra pocket change. and this little cottage was built in his backyard. this was warren harding's ardea -- idea. this is with a newspaper men were going to work. they finally called it the shack and they were thrilled that it had its own front porch. they thought it was cool. it was used to just three months as a press house because that length of the presenter campaign in 1920. imagine that. it wasn't two years, three months. used as aince been lot of different things. right after the campaign, there was no use for it anymore and it became a garage for many years. during the time when the harding home opened as a museum to the public in a 226, and then it became -- in 1926, and then it
became a store room for the past 30 something years it's been our all in one building at the harding home. it's been a gift shop, movie theater, and the little admissions counter, it's the all in one building when you come visit the harding home. we're really excited it's soon going to be going back to its original purpose. it's going to tell its own story of one it was a press house during an exciting summer and fall of 1920. it's part of our harding 2020 project, in which we're restoring the harding home and grounds to how it looked in 1920, and we're also building the harding presidential center. the press house is going to get a facelift. it will look the same outside, but it will change inside. we'll tell the story of those who worked there. in short, what took place in this press house in 1920 in that
picture on the right, is a picture from the campaign, so you can see it hasn't changed a steppingstonethe to wear one of our speakers this afternoon, maggie hamerman, sits in the white house press room today. so today, we're going to talk about how that morphed into a tie to today's press relation. in warren harding stay, the word media meant one thing, newspapers. of course, no internet, radio not quite there yet. no television, absolutely not. so the media, the press, meant exactly that, just newspapers. picture of warren harding at the marion star. he worked there for 30 years, 1894, andfor $300 in everything about the marion star
was in hawk. he bought everything, all the mortgages on everything. he soon decided this is what he was going to pin his life story on, was newspapering. now this is community newspapering, which is very different than the metropolitan newspapers. community newspapering is what i did, what a lot of journalists 'rerted out doing, where you picking up the police reports and reporting the comings and goings of people in your town. and you're going to school board meetings and reporting to people upset about the utility rates going up, all those very, very community minded events that affect the people in your town. so the metropolitan papers were covering more than national story. local papers like the marion star would localize those stories, take a national
subject, and turn it into a local story about how that federal decision affected the people here or whatever town it was. of course there were thousands of community newspapers across the country and many in ohio and many in every community, in thereon to, you know, were three or four here in marion for the same 3000 people for many, many years. politics were tied to newspapering back in. -- back then. a lot of people think, how did warren harding jump from newspapers to politics? he doesn't jump. he does them both simultaneously. you have a partisan newspaper. warren harding said it was a republican newspaper. there were democrats that read democratic newspapers. there were socialist newspapers. there were newspapers for every political bent that you could dream of, and usually people had
to those newspapers that really appealed to their tastes. so the editorials in the marion star were going to reflect warrants republican leanings. -- warren's republican leanings. so, this was a national soapbox for him to get more play across the state of ohio, and sometimes nationally, as well. this is how politicians got themselves known. so even in the 1920's, he's being talked about by other editors and they're carrying his editorial. you would see today, reprinted from whatever newspaper, pay attention to that. that's somebody on that newspaper who says another newspaper has something valid to say. that still happens. so he starts to enter politics around the turn of the last century, and he's elected state senator, and then he's elected to lieutenant governor. and he fails at a bid for ohio
governor in 1910, goes on to the u.s. senate and to the presidency. so there's a very natural steppingstone for him, and he owns the star the whole time. he's still working at the star, but he's got a very capable managing editor who will keep things running in his absence. after his first two elected offices, after he's done being elected governor of ohio, he comes back to the start to run his paper and he has his eyes open. and he tells a meeting of the associated press daily he kind of knows now what it feels like to be on the other side of the reporter's notebook. used to sit in the office of the marion star until the governor and secretary of state just to run the whole government. and i never turned a hair in doing that. i knew just how everything ought to be done and if it wasn't done
just to my liking, there would be better comments upon the incompetency of a but officials. everything in the world depends on point of view. that is the one besetting sin of the public press today." this is 1906. public who writes " opinion is narrow from that point of view, i assure you i will go west from my desk, better qualified to conduct the editorial columns of my paper than before i went into office." so right away, he's got a different vantage point in the early 1900s, kind of converging both points of view. he knows what it feels like to be in the hot seat, to be in political office, but he also knows what the job of the press is. to ask the questions to get the story. now this is that wonderful, crazy summer of 1920. a tiem like no other in marion,
ohio. this was the year of senator warren harding's front porch campaign. this would be the fourth and last front porch campaign in american history, all done by ohio born presidents. don't ask me why, something in the water perhaps. i'm not sure. this was really set up to reflect william mckinley's campaign of 20 years earlier. it was even said warren harding looked a little bit like willie mckinley. and the idea was just the opposite of what we do today, in which the candidates travel, mostly by special chartered planes to four or five cities in a day. he's not going anywhere. he's going to stay pretty much at home. the crowds are going to come to him. and over that three-month campaign, more than 600,000 people made their way to marion, ohio, population 28,000 at the time, to hear somebody speak at the front porch.
and you can see warren and florence waving to the crowd. they looked great from the downtown marion train station and assembled before his house. 5000, was not unusual for 10,000 people to be present at anyone's speech. he did not use a microphone or amplification system. he could have, it was invented, but it was a clunky piece of equipment but he felt that separated him from his audience. he had been on the speaking circuit many times and just wanted to do it the way he was used to. he just talked really loud. if you're in the back of the crowd, you don't expect to catch every word. that was ok with you. you just wanted to be part of the excitement. now he was running against another newspaperman, james coxe, who was the owner of the dayton daily news and the miami herald. but what a strange, strange
election in which to ohio newspaperman are going to be run against each other for the presidency. if you've heard of cox communications today, that's james cox's legacy, a pretty good one. he did ok, so don't feel sorry for him. he did fine. so it gives you a little bit of insight into how valued newspapers were at that time in history. they carried a lot of weight. and so whatever way you voted that year, you were going to have an ohio newspaperman as your president. it wasn't going to turn out anymore. it also tells you the value that still exists about ohio being a swing state during a presidential election. campaign,rion, this you could imagine what it did for the economy. it was great. hotels were full, restaurants were full, everybody's making a
little pocket change in the harding neighborhood. the women are renting out extra to the pressman and campaign workers. they find that their cherry pies sell very well. so it's a great, great summer all the way around. and harding did travel. he traveled to 13 other states, but he's going to go in three or four jeh johnson. the newspaper men are going to go, too. and they are going to drop off the train to buy their stories. they'll interview him on the train and drop off at the next station and send their stories to the newspaper by telegraph. so his front porch campaign is very well covered. remember that press house. and you see warren, he's got his right foot on the bottom step. those are all newspaperman around him, and that's a typical day during the campaign when most likely he's just out
shooting the breeze with them. he loved to talk shop with them, newspapering. and they loved him. now these men, and i segment because there weren't any women here, women are not covering the presidential campaign. they just got to vote. what more do they want, right? [laughter] miss hall: so the men are covering the campaign. and they love him. he's one of them. he understands about their pressing deadlines. he understands about the high cost of newsprint they're wrestling with at that time. he uses their slang. he takes their stogies when they offer it to them, takes the chewing tobacco they might have in the pocket, and they feel quite comfortable with him. all of these men working out of the press house are all representing republican newspapers. remember, we said they were partisan newspapers. nobody's representation at a
newspaper here. and the same with cox's campaign. you're not going to have investigative reporting going on. they're asking as a mouthpiece for the campaign. that's what their publishers told them to do. that is their job. so what is going to happen here is they are going to amplify harding's message to the method nation about what he's going to do as president. now we have to send them out across the country. and these are the men who are going to do it. the press house, what we would love to have, is an interior photo of it. we don't have that. that many interior photos taken at this time in history because of the absence of flashbulbs. it's not until after 1933 could buy a camera and use a flashbulb like we think of them.
so most pictures are taken outside, which really creates a hole for those of us who want to pick back inside a door. all we have is a description that it had three rooms, and a front porch, which apparently was a selling point. it was built in two days time. so it's built at the end of july. we've always been led to believe it was a kit house, much like a sears kit house, but we've found nothing that corroborates that. so i don't have that fact to give you, i don't know. and there isn't any cottage that looks like this in the sears catalog at the time. but there were other companies that make kids, so it could have been another company. places going to be the where these reporters work at d esks, used typewriters, it's been also furnished with telegraph lines, a couple of
telephone lines. there'going to be a lot of asterisk and a lot of jokes told there. these pressman hang out there. this is their place. and on the harding ground, they're especially thrilled because there were a few apple trees planted there and mr. harding's barber. and a couple of them said they would never look at apples or grapes without thinking of the summer. so, very fond memories for them. exactly?as here i'm curious to see who was here. i can't tell you which man is which. theys you can see, represented a lot of the metropolitan newspapers, mostly in the east. that's with a bigger papers were. it wasn't much going on in the western part of our country at that time. towns were pretty small, even
sounds like los angeles were not that big a town then. so most of the press centered in washington and new york. and certainly, that's where the news services were. associated press, united press, that would offer syndicated stories to smaller newspapers like the marion star across the country. sign up and subscribe and they'll provide you with those stories. you can see, there is a marion star reporter, wg, who is there of course. but a lot of them are news services, chicago papers, cleveland. never ready to anybody from the columbus spat there, but the republican party really didn't get along with the wolf brothers, who operated the spat at that time. the way it happened every day, they say there was a speech to
delegations groups of different facets of american society, farmers were coming on a certain day. warren would get ready to give a speech in the front porch at 1:00, and it would begin toward the farmers. agricultural prices, whatever they are interested in. the text of the speeches were typed up for the newsman. and they could pick it up at a children's playhouse that was right in back of the press house, belongs to the neighbor next-door. so imagine a little child's playhouse. and that's where you picked up your speech copy. and he never released them before he started to talk. he didn't want any newspaper to have any advantage over another, lot, becausehem a sometimes they wanted an advance copy but he wouldn't do that. his campaign tried to talk him into doing that. he said no, they're all going to
have the same chance. he visited the press once or twice a week, sometimes every day for a period of time. he would sit on the porch railing and say shoot, ask me your questions. and there's a difference between then and now. everything he said, and same in the cox camp, was off the record unless he told you it was on the record. ok? he's speaking for background, as we would say in newspapering. it's only if he says ok, you can use that statement, that it would be attributed to him. so if you wanted to use something he said, you'd have to attribute it to a can spain -- campaign spokesman, something like that. what that arrangement did was, shows you that hands-off approach by the press at that time.
and we experience that well into the 1960's and such, that you respected the candidate for the public official, and you want just trying to publish everything you could get your hands on. you had a relationship with them. didn't mean that he liked all the questions. didn't mean that he didn't argue with them if you wanted them to print something and they didn't. the one of the reporters said, never once was that trust breached during the campaign. and he played horseshoes with them, as you can see, too. he recorded some of his speeches. this is how you do it then. you could record a live speech so you'd have this cumbersome equipment and you'd record afterwards. so you missed the spontaneity, you missed the crowd cheering or whatever. but it was also another way to get your message out across the
country. usually republican clubs would play these at county fairs or wherever they could gather a group of people around to listen to them. it really was a concerted effort in the campaign to get that message out across the nation, not only by their own campaign, the republican party, but by the press as well. and then we had the newsreel cameramen. i love this picture. this was warren's father, dr. gt harding. he's in his civil war uniform. pretty impressive he can still fit in it just fine. he was very proud of being a civil war vet, met abraham lincoln during the civil war. he told the story, i can only imagine 500 times to warren. this is right outside the harding's house during the campaign, and he's being filmed for an israel. up -- for a newsreel.
lot of newsreels being filmed. you could go to any movie theater across country and see the news of the day before hand, and they would show you newsreels. during the campaign, a lot of it was taken here in marion. this is how people across the country knew where marion was, knew what was going on, knew who was campaigning. another way to reach out to the american people. well, he won the election handedly, 53% of the popular vote, 404 of a tour of votes. so no arguing over popular vote or that stuff. it was clear-cut. that's a picture on the right of what the white house looks like in 1921. inauguration day would not be until march 4. not held in january yet. net before the inauguration, warren is seated on the table on the left.
that's at the willard hotel. and he hosts kind of a reception. this is the white house correspondents association. and there were about 89 members of it. and they're together around. he wants to kind of get to know them. so he meets with them and one of the reporters said the incident served to illustrate for the newspapermen some of the trials endured by your picture posed intention in the past. because they are taking pictures of them instead of them taking pictures of somebody else. they look awkward. they don't like their picture being taken, so now they are being subjected to what everybody is being subjected to. the white house press association was formed in 1914, again no women allowed. there were some women reporters in washington. they're mostly going to cover
the first lady and more social events. one of the things that i thought was very telling, and shows that this industry was no different than a lot of industries, as women were fighting to be taken seriously, is if the female made the front page of the story, the other newspaper men called her a front-page girl. whereas the men were called correspondents. [laughter] in fact, no women were allowed in the new york times city room -- sitting room until 1934. so no different than a lot of industries. this is a picture of that white house press corps on the lawn of the white house, warrant again right in the middle of them. one of the reporters said laddie boy was supposed to be in the picture, the president stock, --
resident's dog. he's right in the front row. right when they said they couldn't see him, i said i've got to find him now. but he's right in the front row there. george christian, to give up his house for the campaign, is pictured on the right. he is personal secretary of harding. he's also going to act as a press secretary, although that term wasn't used yet. and he's also going to kind of be chief of staff. he's everything rolled into one. his office is right outside the oval office, to you have to get through george to get to president harding. and he's the one who the white house correspondents are going to go to first to say, can we talk to the president? or when is he scheduled to come out to talk to us? so george has to filter a lot of those press requests.
it wasn't until the hoover administration that they had someone called a press secretary. but we could see how we're moving in that direction. loved the new technology that was changing not only his world, but how the media operated. this is him looking to the lens of one of the newsreel cameras. i think that's a cool picture. so they're giving him a chance to see what it looks like through their. this is a group of farmers on the lawn of the white house, and it's kind of hard to see, but warren is in the middle of that. we could see the newsreel cameras, they're up kind of on letters. there'going to be print reporters, as well. photographer reporters, as well. at this point, there are only 24 photographers in washington, d.c.
they're kind of discriminated against by print reporters. they finally formed their own organization called the white house news photographers association in 1921. just a few months before warren becomes president, than the photographers start to form their own organization. i want to show you a little bit about where the press works in the white house. the 1909 floorplan on the left is the one that warren would have been used to. this is the west wing. this is before there was another story put on the west wing. it is an oval office, just not the same oval office as today. where i have the green arrow, , it hadthat cubbyhole three desks and it, a phone
line, and there is nothing else in there. the lobby is right beside it. the lobby is going to be right off the main entrance to the west wing. the photographers and newsreel camera operators are just lounging in the chairs in the lobby because there is nowhere for them to wait. if the president was meeting with someone important in the oval office, they will just stick the area out until somebody comes back. there was a backdoor so if somebody was really camera shy that the president could get them out in other way. the floor plan on the right was how that same area looks today. light blue oval is where the oval office is today. in the place where the laundry drying yard was.
the press briefing room is where the green arrow is. servants men'she and women's bedrooms were in 1909. later a swimming pool was put there, then the press briefing room that really has not changed much since the nixon era. he is the one that really gave accommodations. you also have the press secretary office right there. up thetrying to beef working areas of the working press. this is the wire room. i like this picture too. these are the wire services, associated press, united press, their typing on typewriters that on rigged up to the things the left shoulders beside each one. that will channel the story into a telegraph and send it out. that is room they worked in.
this is warren harding's oval office. it is smaller than the oval office is at today. not too fancy. that is the cabinet room on the right. isrge christian's office going to be on the other side of it. this is where the press conferences will take place. he is not going down to the little closet of a pressroom. all the reporters will come into the oval office. how it was until eisenhower's presidency. everybody came to the oval office for press conferences. he had two press conferences a week, tuesdays at 1:00 and fridays at 4:00. those would follow cabinet meetings. he would report on what the cabinet was talking about.
he also picked those times because one would help the morning papers and one would help the afternoon papers. he is cognizant of their deadlines. would meet the reporters at the door, shake hands with each one, greet them by name if he knew it. form a circle around the desk, and about three reporters deep. sit on the desk and just start talking. he doesn't like the questions. he will just say what we talked about in the cabinet was this, this, and this. they are not attributing anything to him that he does not want to have attributed. he can talk freely. them writeeally help better stories. they will have more background to work from. he does not have to be so guarded in how he speaks to them.
then they will say, may i use that statement and he will say ok, you can use that. one reporter said harding knew our professional interest, what story was in it for us. he gave it to us. he talked frankly but not a discreetly. he is not giving away government secrets or anything like that but it does give him more are theto say these angles we have to think about in this. they respected that. if a reporter is not going to respect that and is going to be printing it in the paper the next day, he is not going to be invited back or he will be kind of ostracized. this was just the informal rule of the land at that time. when harding first came into office, a veteran reporter said all but a few chronic kickers are hailing him. the great majority of the correspondents have laid aside their axes.
they are going to give him a chance. to give him aoing license for anything, he is president now. yes, he is one of them but that does not mean that will turn a blind eye to anything that needs to be reported. 1921, something kind of extraordinary happened. carteraper man named gus sent a memorandum of guidelines to president-elect harding on behalf of the press corps. basically it is going to lay out a relationship that the press wants with harding. they say they want this open policy between the president and the press corps, they want availability. let the president be acceptable to them. if he isn't going to be they want to go
through george christian to get questions answered. they don't want a time where he will say no, i am not having a press conference for three weeks, sorry. that is not what they are asking. either throughs george or through the president. then this anonymous administration that i talked about. the fact that he is talking on background unless he gives you permission. if they use something he said, they have to do attributed to a high white house official or something like that. that is a really different ballgame. men wanthe newspaper the news, everything i have done to make it easy for them will help them and assist the administration. the press is viewing it as a two way street. as will help the press and it will certainly help the press get access to the president.
toy submit this president-elect harding and he says ok, he does not change too much. it makes sense to him. timearly the same president-elect harding tells the associated press that he hopes the cooperation extended by the press during the recent world war may continue with their support of his administration. events, the guidelines and the comments harding is making to the associated press kind of bothered me. why does he care so much that they support his administration? he knows they have to do their job. the press corps think they have to outline this new working relationship? why is this necessary?
i started looking a little around at the circumstances. happened.this is what thisd one of my coworkers is what happened. it was in my head at 2:00 in the morning. sometimes things go in my head and i mull them over for a long time. at 2:00 in the morning i woke up and i had not been thinking about the sedition law as most of you probably don't think about it often either. i thought, the sedition law, that is why they are jumpstarting and starting this new relationship. we had just come out of world war i. the sedition law had just expired in 1920. while it lasted so far past the end of the war in 1918, i cannot tell you. it piggybacked on the espionage act. during the war woodrow wilson in the white house a sickly communications between the white
house and the press shutdown. conferences, news he had won in 1913. after that it was very sporadic. you could be arrested for talking against the government. fine and jailed for insulting the government, the flag, the constitution, the military. you could not criticize the manufacture of war materials or advocate teaching or defending any of these act. aimed ation act was socialists, pacifists, and antiwar activists. congress when along with it. it was not just wilson. because they thought we needed a united war effort. the press was also affected by this. i looked and thought they will not go along with this, this is the first amendment. they don't care at all about it. they are already on board.
-- since 1914ady and realize that we need to help the allies and they are already on board. this was kind of surprising to me that they are not writing any critical stories. dunn, during the entire first world war. they could have. it was not the best organized effort in the world. men on the right who were arrested by wilson's administration for sedition. he is jailed. he will be released from jail in the summer of -- in december of 21 as warren harding resets the and we again welcome the first amendment back. i doubt we would stand for a sedition act today. it was seen as the thing to do.
the loyal thing to do. the patriotic thing to do. this is why warren harding telling the associated press me, justpe you support like you are with the program during the war. ok, do why gus is saying over, we are going to start again and restart these press relations. that is why he says we want an open relationship. we want access. they are just a month from coming out from the end of the sedition law. it is pretty stunning when you think about this. soing out of the world war many things are now changed about the country. this relationship is one of those things. we are of starting this new era in press relations with the white house.
right, he is with this group of campaign workers right after the election was when they are all posing on the steps of george christian's house. he was hired as the chief publicity officer, he was working out of george christian's house and overseeing any of the news releases and things being sent out. there has always been a question of whether he was the first white house speechwriter. he was not called a speechwriter, he was called a clerk. he would go to the white house, kind of in are speech writing capacity but they have been misinterpreted. there is a society that you can google, it is made up of past
press secretaries from the white house. of him inof make fun our -- in the society. i think it is because no one has ever heard of him. they think maybe that is the way the white house speechwriter is doomed to anonymity as well. one thing i just read that last year's meeting, the person conducting the society meeting basically said that he was writing the words that came out of warren harding's map. that war and really was not participating, they were not his ideas. that is just not true. in the white house, he is going to take care of the minor speeches. they will always have war and -- .arren's approval
it is a back-and-forth relationship. for the short speeches, harding will tell him what he wants to say and supply him with key phrases and ideas. most important speeches were written by harding himself. saidrian robert k murray harding would first gather data, occasional using the services of the library of congress. sometimes he would consult individual cabinet members about content or information. he would seclude himself with a large pad and a supply of pencils. wrote, harding road is in longhand. the draft was sent to a typist who triple spaced it. afterwards it would be revised, scratched out, and inserted. the final product, it was political intuition, factual information, some
compromise, and a basic conservatism. i'm exhausted after the triple spacing. harding was writing his own speeches. we have so many in the harding collections draft of the speeches in longhand. we can prove euro his own speeches. somehow over the years, the story morphed. harding had a honeymoon. period with the press. it was pretty much a smooth sailing. the press was going to give him a chance. remember, he was one of them. he was also fair game now as president. for the first nine months of his administration, he expresses decent press coverage. he gets favorable marks for his unexpected address to congress outlining policies of the return to normalcy plan. gets good marks on the economy, reduction of government spending
, his warning to be conservative on financing the soldiers bonus bill and authorization of the veterans bureau. i did a survey of editorials of the leading metropolitan and i find they all echo this sentiment. there is nobody coming down hard on his policies. above all, they like his willingness to listen to his cabinet and to the people. they like his style. the honeymoon is going to be over on an exact eight. date. is the fun stuff they like covering too. members of the press when he was andome of the fairways, they would ride horses along the side and stop and take pictures. i think we should start that
again. share on the right that he is sitting in was a gift from newspaper editors across the country. it is called the editor's chair. of the newspaper community gave him his chair the day after the inauguration, this is march 5, 1921. and it says it is a gift from the fourth estate. on top of it are two engravings. one shows a hand clutching arrows, that symbolizes the media collecting the news on the is a side of the plaque woman blowing behind. it is the two functions, collecting the news items and distributing them to the world. he love this chair. it was in his private study at the white house. let's see what happened here. 1921, harding had
empowered secretary of state charles evans to conduct the washington the disarmament conference. it is the day after he dedicates the tomb of the unknown soldier. next day, convened the washington conference, this is an attempt to level the playing field of the great naval powers of the world. it is trying to prevent another war. europe, even though war has is back to squabbling among the countries. it looks like war could break out next week. this is a way to say let's slow it down. destructionf mass at that time was the battleship. it was widely heralded around the world that this was the first peace conference the world had ever seen. was a wonderful effort to try and bring peace to the world. harding convenes the progress --
the conference but then he steps duty daylet hughes today. he knows what is going on each day and what the negotiations are, he does that because he does not want it to look political. i want you to actually get some work done, i want you to come up with some treaties that will actually work. that is why he steps out. untilhing is working fine december 21. everything has been going on about a month. there was a treaty being discussed called the power treaty. it involved the united states, britain, japan, and france. it had been done and kind of a side room. the press had heard rumblings of what was going on, there was these discussions that they did not know what it was really about. what was was it was trying to determine all of these countries
still having possessions in the pacific. it was basically an attempt to everybody has to respect and keep your hands off everybody else's possessions. if there's a problem, we will iron it out. they finally go public about --s and war in mrs. speaks war and ms. speaks. the reporters as is japanese mainland considered a part of japan? he says no. is one learns that he step behind. that japan has changed its mind and hughes has said yes the mainland is considered part of it. everything went ballistic. the press is descending upon the press house to write that same day. war and issues a statement that says i misspoke, i did not realize the stance had change
and he corrects it. clarifiesan apology, his position that same day. look at the headlines. thatof the press coverage hughes was going to be fired, that he was so angry that he was going to throw a punch at harding. it was nuts. said --and hughes both they said months later that it was a misunderstanding and it was not a big deal. there was some press coverage saying the whole conference is going to be derailed because of this. is warren getsen gunshy. he still has conferences twice a week but now he says if you are reporter and you come into the
oval office, i want you to submit in writing what your question is. he is a little gun shy now because he saw everything go up in fireworks so quickly and so easily. accessible but he is going to be a little guarded from now on. i want to talk a minute about scandals, because we have to talk about the scandals when we talk about harding. two scandals associated with the harding administration. one involving the veterans bureau and another one who is pictured here. he is pictured here with the famous teapot. marketoperating a black for liquidated world war i medical supplies in europe. ends, we have to clean up europe, we left our stuff there. as it is being shipped back across and being stored in warehouses along the east coast,
he things he can make some nice bucks on the side it is selling everything at bargain prices. inding is alerted to this january of 1923. he calls force to the white house and the story is he shakes forbes like a ragdoll that he is so mad. i'd on think that is probably inaccurate. andemands that he resign forbes does. the press coverage surprised me. i have been led to believe over the decades of the president's death, it did not. "oh great,ed it like he resigned." really regular, normal
reporting. there were no editorial saying that the president should of done this or that. certainly no implication that he knew anything about it. that surprised me. fall was secretary of the interior, i will say allegedly for his sake but allegedly giving leases without the open bid process to some oil manufacturers that he knew. is going to be in the news for six or seven years. it comes to the surface one month after harding dies. this is a different ball game now. the press coverage is pretty straight for the first couple of years.
the first start to the congressional investigation morphs into a criminal trial against fall and two of the oil men. it is a circus. fall is a is our character. it takes him six weeks to get to washington because he says he has sinus problems, which could happen to any of us. the characters tough to find our comical and colorful. if you are a newspaper man, you are going to be entertained covering this. outlonger this stretches away from the harding administration, now we start seeing a turn not to the late president maybe the did know something. the president is dead, that changes everything.
nobody can ask him a darn thing. you can think kind of what you want. the reporting stay straight. the editorial start taking a shift. at the same time you had a couple books written that disparaged his reputation. i don't see problems with the news recording. we have to separate the editorials from the news recording, they have two separate function. technology is going to change a lot as we talked earlier. radio is going to come on. this is not a very good picture. this is going to be the day that it isg gives a speech and picked up by the radio for the first time. is june 14, 1922. he was dedicating a boreal for francis scott key at fort mchenry. 125,000 people heard it.
one man actually wrote to the not about the content, but saying i could hear you so clearly, it was like you were standing next to me. they were impressed with the technology itself. this picture, as the headline says, photographic transmission points to movie broadcasting. pictures by this time have been sent over telegraph lines, they have been sent over telephone lines. but now they can send it over radio frequencies. so theye this pattern are just perfecting it. look at what they are predicting. in this story they actually said that this breakthrough in radio transmission is going to allow us to watch movies in our own home sunday.
some day. home [laughter] had this in the world war, we could have had pictures and movies of what was going on in the battlefield. the future right here in this little story. it is remarkable. as we know, harding dies of a 1923 attack in office in during a trip to the western states of alaska. no doubt, he was happiest when talking shop to newspaper man as he did wherever he was, whenever he could. one of his last addresses was to the seattle press club, one week before his death. he proposed an interesting idea. of there not afraid futility of such a suggestion. i would be tempted to promote the idea that newspaper training should be required of every
candidate for the presidency. newspaper work honestly done brings a man to understanding. i like the claim of being an aserstanding in believing the one great agency for the solution of all of our problems, national and international. that was warren harding. that last trip he took across the country, his experience in newspapers where you are trying to get all sides of the story and bring it together. he is going to the library of congress for his speeches, doing all this, doing his homework and collecting the background story. you cannot take the newspaper man out of him. started.ck where we for three months a newspaper man from ohio has a novel idea of holding a cottage for the news reporters in his backyard. he did his best to make himself available to them. continuing that pledge of honest
press relations in the white house. all because he understood the importance of a free press to a democracy. thank you very much. [applause] if you have questions i will gladly take them. >> nobody wants to get up. thank you very much. >> i have a tiny question. interestingis picture with 13 or 14 women in the background. what was that? >> that was the campaign staff. that was the campaign staff. they worked here in marion. evidence. that is here in marion.
i noticed the new york times in there. on that list that you had. i wondered if they were a republican paper at the time. >> they were considered to be. newspapers change like our political parties. 70's, as onehe newspaper started to go more independent, they found they of notthe credibility being affiliated with a particular party. we saw a change in newspapering that that didn't happen until the late 60's and 70's. it is interesting that the view that we had maybe that some of those news outlets has changed as well. anybody else? ok, thank you very much. [applause]
tofrom george washington george w. bush, every sunday at 8:00 p.m. we feature the presidency. series. you're watching american history tv on c-span3. american history tv is in prime time next week on c-span3. starting monday at 8:00 p.m. eastern, a discussion on the role of black teachers who fought against segregation with the nasa locker. tuesday, a symposium on the concept of liberty, exploring how the idea of freedom, law and liberty have changed throughout history.