tv QA Lillian Cunningham CSPAN April 29, 2018 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT
podcast. then, british prime minister theresa may takes questions from the british house of commons. after that, the supreme court oral argument challenging the president's travel ban. ♪ >> this week on "q&a," lillian cunningham, host and creator of the "washington post" constitutional and presidential podcast. ♪ ofan: lillian cunningham "the washington post," when did you think podcasts were worth spending time on? lillian: [laughter] wasnd of thought a podcast worth spending a lot of time on. i had no intention to go into
podcasting, i was a journalist at "the washington post" for several years. 2015 for aidea in big presidential project. it seemed like podcasting was the perfect medium for this massive quest i was going to go on, but at the time i really knew nothing about podcasting. i kind of happened into it because the medium felt right for the vision i had and the stories i wanted to tell. brian: what is a podcast? lillian: a podcast is kind of like a radio program except you can listen on-demand. podcast presidential and constitutional podcast i have done, we create about 45 minute episodes. you can download them on the "
washington post" website, and there are a bunch of places online like itunes. all of these sites when they go to live in perpetuity for free, and anyone can listen to them at any time. people listen in their cars or while they are cooking dinner. it is kind of like the audio version of netflix. brian: you have sponsors. lillian: we did. presidential, we went a couple of months without a sponsor, it was just a project of the "post" felt was worthy even if it did not have that support. after it started doing really well, a sponsor came on for the rest of the run, and then i did a second on cast -- second podcast that also had a sponsor. brian: the presidential, what was it and when did you start it? lillian: the presidential podcast was this idea i had in
2015 and it actually came out of a gap in my presidential knowledge. i was the leadership editor and reporter at "the washington post" at the time, and i knew the election-year was coming up, wrote as a someone who about leadership and did profiles of people in power, i was going to spend essentially the course of 2016 having to write about and analyze all of these candidates on the campaign god,, and i thought, oh my i don't actually feel like i know enough about presidential contextto put this in and to put these figures and their styles and approach to leadership in the right context. so actually, i went out there looking for a podcast i could listen to to brush up quickly on the presidents, i thought wouldn't that be great if i could take half an hour, 40
minutes, and learn more about truman? and then do the same with eisenhower and work my way up. i realize there was nothing like that out there -- i realized there was nothing like that out there. idea, a service i wished someone else would provide. it turned into a personal mission to create this body of i started, inere the first week of january 2016, with george washington. up every week i picked president by president, and the math works out perfectly so that by the time i got to president obama, we were a week before the 2016 election. the very final episode went out the day after the election in
2016. over the course of almost a year , i learned more about presidential history than i can honestly say i ever thought i could have learned in 44 weeks. brian: i know, because i have done it myself, you can get on the "post" and is into the podcasts. what is the best and easiest way for somebody who has never done this before to get to your podcasts? lillian: the easiest way is to go to washingtonpost.co willsidential, and that take anyone directly to a page where all of the episodes live, and all you have to do is click play. you can start with george washington or skip ahead to whichever president is most interesting to you. brian: you did something special
with george washington and with donald trump. you say, especially in the donald trump one, i got out of my chair and walked over to the white house. explain what you did with george washington and donald trump. lillian: for the very first george washington episode i did, we have the privilege of living in washington, d.c. and having so much history around us. i started the quest to learn more about the presidents by going to mount vernon, which is a short drive from a washington, d.c. along the potomac river. it was the middle of winter. i went down there, it was nighttime, they had a little event going on at mount vernon. with and the podcast actual journey. to the first presidents home, the kind of 70 up on the mission
for the year ahead -- kind of set me up on the mission for the year ahead. brian: have you been there before to mount vernon? lillian: i had been there years before, and in a very different mindset good i went -- mindset. i went the way i used to go to a lot of historical sites, which is kind of follow the tour and listen to the tour guide and kind of soak it in, but frankly forget a lot of what i learned. but this time was very different. was partission, which ,f the framework of the podcast i was very genuine of the fact that i was not an expert, i was coming to this with real questions about the legacy and life of each of these figures. what i did for every episode was
reach out to all of the best historians and biographers and experts i could find, to help tell that story. so i started at toward washington's home, and to book end that, the final episode, after donaldght trump was declared the winner of theelection, i left "washington post" newsroom where i was working on the final episode and i walked out in the middle of the night to the white house to see if a crowd had gathered. it turned out to be something ideal for audio, there were people out there playing bagpipes. hearould hear, sort of
that november, m.d. nighttime emptywith -- november, nighttime sound with a bewailing of the bagpipes, and the crowds gathering and gathering, some in support and some nonsupport. that was essentially how the series ended, with another actual journey to a place where history was unfolding in the moment. brian: i know you answered this specifically, but how many people or times did people come to your podcasts, both the presidential and constitutional series, since it started? lillian: presidential has had about 15 million downloads by evenwhich is incredible to
hear myself say. i would say about 9, 10 million 2016, andere in another five or six were in the year or so that followed. i still get emails from people who say they just now heard about it and they are starting to listen with george washington, and they think -- i never anticipated there would be such a listenership, but i did hope i was creating something that was an evergreen resource. the episodes are not at all about the 2016 election. each episode really stands on its own is the story about that president. and so it has been great to see that as people today are trying to better understand the moment we live in and come up phrase we
hear a lot is how unprecedented is this presidency right now. i think a lot of people find it helpful to go back and learn about previous ones. brian: this is audio only, let's dip into one. this is the gerald ford presidency. you are talking to stephen forte, his son. -- stephen ford, his son. old, datanly 16 years did not know that grandpa ford was not his father appeared debt was working at lunchtime flipping hamburgers at eight burger joint across the street from high school. a man walked in and said, is there a leslie king here, and my dad had never heard that name. he said, is there a jury for here -- gerry ford here?
the man said, i am your biological father. he did not know that story. brian: how much of this was new to you? lillian: all of that was new to me. it, i thinkson tell it comes across a bit here, and certainly in the full episode, there is something just so powerful and intimate about hearing a son talk about his father's story, and actually one of the things i had my eyes open to across so many of these presidencies was that so many of them have stories sort of similar to this. childhoods,ifficult so many of the presidents, really difficult childhoods.
a number of them had fathers who died right before they were born , alcoholic stepfathers or abandonment. me how muching to of a pattern it was. brian: what is your own background? where are you from originally? lillian: i was born in new york city. my mother is from new york and my dad is from alabama. i lived there all my life until college. i went to the university of chicago, and grad school at northwestern, also in chicago. then back to new york and down to the sea -- d.c. i had a great education my whole life, it was something my parents cared so much about. think i am like a lot
gone to awho may have wonderful college and been a really dedicated student and yet still felt like i had some big gaps in my understanding of american history. brian: what kind of work do your parents to? nurse andy mom is a my dad for a long time owned a racquetball club. brian: are there other kids in the family? lillian: a happy and her sister. brian: what did you study at chicago? lillian: it took me a very long time to decide. the university of chicago is one of those schools with a massive core curriculum where you spend almost your first three years there taking some version of required courses. i eventually was an english literature major, but along the way i was premed, i was an
anthropology maybe major. i took russian for three years. led me to of what journalism, i felt like i could never quite not take something. i always wanted to keep my options open and that he more. brian: another president, they are all there -- by the way, as you get into the podcast, there are little statuettes by each one, were those made? lillian: they are these little figurines about this big and they were made by a toy company called marks 20 company is out of erie, pennsylvania. decades ago, they were in business and created little figurines for every president, and every time there was a new election, they would create a new figurine.
at the time, they were sort of cheap collectors items. the company since went out of rare,ss, and now they are more valuable collectors items. you can find a set on ebay, which is what we did. the artat the post, director, found an old set of all of the presidents, and we did a little photo session where we set each figuring up and took a photo of it against the backdrop and those became the artwork for each episode. brian: how many people helped you do these podcasts? for presidential, i did it by myself. brian: all of it? lillian: yes. i learned a lot. i did not know how to do any of that before, but i taught myself how to use audio equipment to go
out in the field in record the interviews. we also have a studio at the "post," and i taught myself with the help of someone who operates the studio there how to run all of the board's and record interviews in person. people would come into the studio. then i taught myself audio editing. i watched a lot of youtube videos on how to edit audio. if you can tell, actually, i think in the podcast that it is a sincere, homegrown effort, and the quality gets better and better after a couple of weeks. i sort of have the system down. by the end of it, it was sounding pretty polished. but it was, in addition to my presidential education, i had an education in how audio is produced. brian: here is 30 seconds with
you and someone who writes for "the post" talking about william harrison. >> i feel like presidential history would have suffered a great loss if harrison had not died. his death is ironically one of the things that brings presidential history to life. >> i agree. i think he also serves as a valuable cautionary tale. the trend toward longer and longer a nodule speeches can only be stopped when someone literally dies in office. it is a good thing to point to and say, you don't want to wind up like liam henry harrison. -- william henry harrison. brian: how did she get involved in the podcast? lillian: she is very funny. part of what i did with a podcast was my main effort was to bring in historians and
biographers to tell the story, but what i also tried complement that with was a cast of journalists from around the room at "the washington post," who either their feet and resected in some interesting way with the intersected in an interesting way with the episode i was doing. , she grew upf alex in indiana, i believe her aunt worked at the benjamin harrison museum and her family has had this lifelong fascination with benjamin harrison, so she appeared on the benjamin harrison episode later, but i thought it would be fun to have her come on and do the grandfather's episode. brian: here is someone from the library of congress, this is about grover cleveland's illegitimate child. >> there is a minister in
buffalo who tells a local newspaper that cleveland fathered an illegitimate child. the story had a lot of potentially sorted elements to it, and the reverend embellished what was already there and made it a huge scandal. of course, here is this person known for his incorruptibility and trustworthiness, and now he is confronted with the scandal being presented as an ethical lapse. >> the news stars to spread through more papers across the country and seems to be swaying voters. there is a famous editorial cartoon that comes out with a pa? screaming, where is my brian: the question i have for you, given grover cleveland's life, he married a 21-year-old when he was in the white house, and then this story, what would
have been the coverage of that today and how does that relate to what we are seeing daily in the news? lillian: sure. grover cleveland was really one of the first presidents or candidates to have that type of salacious, sexual scandal kind of a march on the campaign trail. emerge on the campaign trail. we see it with a number of candidates as we move through history. way news ise disseminated today and the speed with which it travels has made scandals like that or rumors like that blow up in much bigger ways for candidates today. in cleveland's time, voters knew about it, but is sort of depended on where you were in the country, how much you are hearing about it, how much the local paper decided to focus on
it. i think like today, the thing that really threatened his candidacy about it as michelle pointed out, was the hypocrisy. and this idea that the image he was presenting of himself and the platform he was running on as uncorrectable was undermined i his actions. i think that today and 20 years ago,50 years ago, 70 years whether it is a sexual scandal , that has always been at the heart of the scandals that have risen to a point where they jeopardize a candidacy. brian: when you did your podcast, did you have somebody listen to them for they went out to the internet? lillian: not all of them. to them 100 times
before they went out, but depending on the episode, different people would, and part of the thing was that -- and for the record, i wish more people had listened to it before it went out into the world. but part of sort of the beauty and challenge of the podcast was the enormous time constraint of it. it was essentially like producing a documentary film every week by myself. and so i would publish an episode on sunday night and start fresh monday morning with the next president and sprint, thely sprint to get to following sunday evening to where i could publish the next one. mondaysolved doing --
were usually huge research and reading days. into tuesday, i would be lining up guests, and wednesday, thursday and friday would be interviews. saturday and sunday would be stitching it altogether, editing it. there were a lot of times i was in the room by myself at a desk at "the washington post" at 3:00 a.m. on a saturday night, and the only one to listen to it who could listen to it with me. sponsored heart, they were not there -- sponsored part , they were not there in the beginning, of the presidential podcast. wordpress did the constitutional one. do your bosses look at you and say, that made money for us? lillian: i think they do. it is not something that we talk about much. talk in more general
terms about a sense of the success of the podcast. brian: is it the most successful podcast at the post? lillian: yes. i mean, yes. to be fair, i- don't know anything about advertising numbers. i have never heard anything about how much money a podcast has brought in from advertising, but i know in terms of downloads and listenership that presidential has been the biggest podcast the "post" has done. brian: where did you get the idea for constitutional and where did they start? lillian: the idea emerged out of presidential. you, i felt when i started presidential this was
just an interesting and worthy idea, i had to detour from my regular job to do for a year. at the time i had no intention of continuing podcasting. i just thought, we needed this presidential podcast in the world, i will do it, then i will go back to the sort of reporting it was doing before. but i got to the end of presidential and i loved it. i had such a wonderful time making it, and listeners started sending me email after email saying, what are you doing next? what is the second podcast? , it felt like even though that was not the plan originally, that was the right thing to do. where ianother topic and a number of people out there
in the world felt like we wish we knew more about that part of american history. so the idea for constitutional was actually an idea that several of the listeners of presidential wrote to me as a suggestion. they said, how about a podcast on the bill of rights, or how about a podcast on the history of the constitution? on, i sort of settled took that idea and the way i made it my own was to really shapedn figures who constitutional history. that started with the original framers of the constitution in 1787, but then sort of moved up in time to focus on, you know, people who helped with the passage of later amendments or people whose cases went to the supreme court and that changed
the interpretation of language in the constitution, had a real effect on our society. brian: how many people have come to you and listened to the constitutional podcast? lillian: i haven't looked at those numbers to recently -- too recently. it is somewhere around, maybe 7 million or something. it is a little hard to say with the numbers, because as with presidential, people can start these podcasts at any time. constitutional i just recently finished. constitutional was a project i started in 2017 and finished in mid-february of 2018. so the numbers are kind of changing all the time. episodes are in constitutional? lillian: 17.
brian: have you started a new one? lillian: not yet. brian: this is one of my favorites of all of the things you have done. it is guy named gregory wasson. .- watson what was it and how did you find him? lillian: this was part of the constitutional podcast. there is an incredible story amendment most recent we have passed in this country, or the most -- recent a minute we have ratified, the 27th amendment. the story is it was actually an amendment proposed by james madison way back with the rest of the bill of rights was going through. , and notpassed it enough states ever ratified it, and it was an amendment that essentiallys cannot
give itself an immediate pay raise. if they want to give themselves a pay raise, it has to go through congress. it was restraint on people in power giving themselves more money. amendment tocal put in there, james madison fought hard for it. when it did not get enough state ratifications, it just kind of sat half -- sat out there. years passed and people forgot this without there, until a man, gregory watson, a young student at the university of texas at austin, in the 1980's. he was doing research for a political science class he was taking and he came across an old book in his library that mentioned, oh yes, james madison
have proposed this amendment, congress passed it, not enough states ratified it. as he describes it, he got almost like an electric shock that went through him, thinking, we could still ratify this, couldn't we? ,t turns out that he was right or he made that right, because he started writing letter after letter to different state legislatures to push the ones who had not ratified it centuries ago to sign off on it. brian: let's listen to him from your podcast, just talking a little bit about how he found all this. >> i was in the library downtown here in austin, and i was in the stacks looking at books about the u.s. constitution. >> he pulled a book off the bed throughd -- thum
its pages and came across a chapter on on ratified amendments. that is -- >> amendment congress had proposed to the states for ratification. >> but that not enough states ever approved to be part of the constitution. brian: how did you find this story? he is talking as if you are in austin, did you go to austin to interview him? lillian: we did this over the phone. i was in the studio in washington, d.c. austin into a studio in and we coordinated to have a recording of his end of the conversation. i came across his story just reading some old newspaper clippings of the final ratification of the 27th
amendment. in the early 1990's, it was officially ratified. there were some writeups at the time about this young student who had really spurred the campaign. i just went digging for where he was. it turned out he had gone on to work for the state legislature in austin, and at the time i found him, was out of a job, but so passionate still about the story and average people getting involved in the process of government. a wildwas just kind of goose chase of tracking down contact info for him. brian: where does he live now? lillian: he is still in austin. brian: not working at the moment. lillian: as of last summer. forn: was he working then
the state legislature when you interviewed him? lillian: no, they had budget cuts and he was let go along with a slew of others. brian: here is an excerpt -- he was preparing a paper, as you say. he was 19 years old at the university of texas and this is what he says happened when he submitted the paper about what he was finding. >> i wrote the paper and i put a lot of tender loving care into it. i turned it in and got it back a few days later with a c on it. that made me very angry. >> he went to his professor and appealed the grade. that, sheays after returned to the classroom and kind of physically tossed it at me and said "no change" and walked away. i decided, i'm going to get that thing ratified. brian: without gregory watson,
wouldn't the 27th amendment has been ratified? lillian: i really don't think so. almostgone 200 years without anyone touching it. no, that is all gregory watson. brian: there is a lot more to the story, you can listen to it on the podcast. when you were doing this, did you know you had a pretty good story? lillian: oh, yeah. he, you know, the story seemed just a brilliant and touching and wonderful and kind of unbelievable to me when i read writeupst and old about it. and certainly talking with him, you get a taste of it here, but he was such a dynamic, thatesting, dedicated guy
certainly after speaking with , you know,t like what an opportunity and treasure to tell his story and in his voice. this, you might remember the original second amendment of 12 of the bill of rights, and to did not get passed. lillian: right. brian: how did you approach the constitution from a story angle? did you have a background from -- for any of this? lillian: the way i approached it was a bit different than presidential. i contemplated at first appeared the logical -- at first. the logical thing seemed to do 27 episodes on the 27 amendments. that was the first idea, it fit
the format of presidential, a very clear order. but i had done that with presidential. i was not interested in just for theind of a schtick way i did podcasts. the more i thought about it, the more i thought i could tell the best stories i could tell, i needed to throw off that constraint and needed to focus instead on themes and topics that lend themselves to these stories. pretty subtle, but the organizing principle i had for the podcast was to follow the preamble of the constitution. the way i thought about the episodes was, you know, let's start with these values and
goals that were set out and let's sort of use that as a way haveexploring how we worked overtime to better embody those ideals. are all, few episodes in my head, they kind of hang around the concept of "we the people," so it was an exploration of a gender, race, nationality, ancestry. then we sort of move into the idea of a more perfect union, and there are a couple of episodes about justice and of withand it ends sort a culmination with the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity and what does that mean. a lot of the episodes are about the passage of different
constitutional amendments, but for example, the three amendments we got right after reconstruction, 13th, 14th and 15th, they all had to deal with race and equality, those all into a single, major episode on reconstruction and race in america. brian: what i am about to show does not come from your podcast, although you do an episode on this in your podcast. we have a contest every year called studentcam. a middle school group washington, eastern middle school in the maryland suburbs, vignetted prize with a , a little documentary on gideon versus wainwright. , thiso show a little bit is what a great group did earlier this year. [video clip] hallman broke into a pool
and stole liquor, cigarettes and $25 in coins. clarence gideon was arrested and charged solely on witness accounts. he could not afford a lawyer, and because of the law at the time, he was forced to defend himself against a trained prosecutor. winning gideon was brought to his trial, he said i am too poor to hire a lawyer. the judges said, i am sorry we cannot appoint a lawyer for you in the state, it does not permit it. >> he lost the trial and was sent to five years in prison. to gideon, this was unjust. he believed that under the sixth amendment, he had a right to counsel, the right to an attorney unity could not afford one. -- an attorney even if he cannot afford one. brian: you put all this together with no experience and had all those people come to you.
these kids, they would be 12 or 13 years old, but together a very attractive small documentary. havingare doing this and such great success, what is going on in your head about the future of communication? lillian: i mean, that clip you showed, what a beautiful presentation. for the constitutional podcast, i should also say, i did end up with helpful for the constitutional podcast. a great producer who works at it "post" was my partner on and i think really elevated the production quality of constitutional. wonderful tohat is see with that clip he played and that i have been feeling through there arepodcasts is
so many teachers who have reached out to me and said that podcasts and focus on figures like gideon have given such a rich way for them to sort of guide students into history. because i think the idea of studying the u.s. constitution dry,, can feel daunting, sort of dusty. and then you realize how alive it is every day and every generation. and people like a prisoner in that letter tote the supreme court, i think that students today and always connect with human stories and it helps them feel the importance of history and have it come alive for them.
brian: how did you do gideon versus wainwright? was a one episode or part of one episode? lillian: it was one full episode. it was part of the establishing podcast, butof the it was a full episode devoted to his case. i see that they interviewed a people,they interviewed it was wonderful to get firsthand accounts. that's essentially what i tried to do, as well, to talk as much -- gideon is not alive, but some of the lawyers involved in his case are. i spoke to another lawyer who is still down in florida, bruce jacobs, who had argued against gone into has since public defense himself.
he has essentially become a efforts togideon's change the way the justice system in america works. i did something sort of similar firsthand accounts -- sort of similar. accounts, along with historians and constitutional law scholars could put together a portrait of why this story mattered and why this man and his individual story changed the story for so many people in this country. seconds,is is only 22 sarah gordon of the university of pennsylvania, on a first amendment jehovah witnesses case. >> jehovah's witnesses are more famous today among constitutional lawyers and scholars than in the broader society, because those people who study constitutional change think of the witnesses as true heroes, having brought into
existence a new constitutional world. brian: how did you go about this one? lillian: this was one of the very final episodes i did for constitutional. it was an episode all about the first amendment, and in part i saved it for the end because i thought it fit really well under this idea of blessings of liberty, and it was also such an important topic to save for the finish. and partly, i pushed it off because i needed more time to come up with what i was going to do for a single episode about the first amendment. it felt daunting to narrow it down. was i eventually landed on to tell a narrower story about the role, as sarah mentioned,
jehovah's witnesses played in facing -- in shaping first amendment rights in this country. it was a story i did not know well beforehand. it is a story, like many of the like,es, it is sort of you know, actually going on a quest where the first person you ,alk to, you ask that person who is the next person i should talk to? you ask that person, what is the next place i should look for clues? the idea of doing an episode on jehovah's witnesses came from someone i have spoken to earlier in the podcast, who planted the seed in my head, and this group had an incredible slew of cases touched940's that freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of the press.
to talkt became a way about several aspects of our first amendment freedoms. but the amazing thing for me about this story was how up until these cases that the jehovah's witnesses brought, the first amendment didn't really first, it not for a reason, just by happenstance, it's positioning. today we did of the first amendment as a crown jewel of the constitution, many of us do, certainly in journalism we do. but it took a group really advocating for those rights to be cemented for us as a nation to sort of uphold it in a meaningful way than we had for most of our history into little 1940's. until the 1940's.
brian: if people want to go listen to your podcasts, what is the best way to get to them? lillian: don't to the washington post site. you can type in washingtonpo /.com/constitutional or presidential. you can click play and listen to any episode you want. you can also just do a google search. them.ll find brian: this is another interesting one on the constitution, about george cassaday. the bootlegger. let's listen to a little bit of this. you set up the story and then i will get you to finish it. shaven, babyan
faced, in his late 20's, early 30's. he was smartly dressed, thai, fast, shined shoes that clicked on the marble floors. keys to offices and his own stowaway spot in the canon office building. he was the bootlegger. he surprised congress with illegal liquor during prohibition. brian: how much illegal liquor? lillian: a lot of it. he was essentially the main for a very hefty percentage of congressman during prohibition. we are right here, we are steps from capitol hill, where it all took place. talk about hypocrisy. the story of the man in the
green hat, as he came to be reeks of the that hypocrisy of congressman who have all passed laws and a constitutional amendment prohibiting the sale of alcohol, and then have set up their own little shop inside the capital for their own supply. brian: as you look back on these episodes, both groups of podcasts, was there when the got more attention than the others? lillian: one episode? brian: yeah. if it is not that, was the one you got more emails seeing you messed up on that fact? lillian: fortunately, i did not get that at all. but i would say, for the constitutional podcast, one of , thepisodes that i think story surprised the most people
and touched the most people, was actually the second episode i did, which was on chief standing there -- standing bear. it's the story of a native american chief in the late 1800s, his tribe had been kicked off of their reservation, his son died in these malaria filled camps where they had been moved to the u.s. government, and all that the chief wanted to do was to take his dead young son and bring him back to where their sacred airville grounds were -- sacred aerial grounds were. across on this trek the plains during the winter to return his son's body and bury it. the government said he had no right to have left the reservation, and that case ended
up being a crucial case, and it is her thick -- it is her thick to think this was even a question, but the question was, do we as the u.s. government, are we going to treat native americans as human beings? do they count as human beings and we need to afford them the trial, addressa of grievances, that we would any other human? heartbreakingust and imported and a story i think most of us have probably never heard in our history classes. i got so many letters and emails after that episode. but those are the kind of stories we need to hear more. brian: back to the presidents in our remaining minutes, this is a question you ask often, and this is julie miller talking about a
blind date with george washington. here is julie miller. >> you would have found that he was extremely charming. if you went to a dance or something, a really good dancer, beautifully dressed. at that time, he was ordering lots of really fashionable clothing from england to w ear. he really liked that sort of thing. he would've looked really good. but one thing you would have wanted to be aware of is that he richot a particularly person and he was anxious to expand his holdings. ,nd if you were a rich widow you would definitely be interested -- he would definitely be interested in your money. brian: who is julie miller? lillian: a historian of the library of congress.
she is actually the keeper of all of george washington's manuscripts at the library of congress. brian: why did you start asking the question about, would you --e, or what would it would what would it be like to have a blind eight a president? with georgetarted washington, and it occurred to me to ask the question -- i think it was just curious what would happen, and what would be revealed in the answer. julie is a very dynamic, engaging person. but i had this fear going into the presidential podcast, i was -- ted it could to easily dense and drytoo and academic, and i wanted to make sure the historians i spoke to were bringing these figures to life. i thought, i will try it out on
julie and see how it goes. i said, what would it be like on a blind date with george washington, and his first response that you did not hear, you can't, he is married. i know he is married, he is dead. [laughter] i am not going on a blind date with him, but walk me through what it would be like. brian: here is a blind date with lincoln. >> he did not dress well, he was not fashionable. he still had a little bit of that backcountry way about him. he was very awkward around females, not particularly comfortable with them in social situations. he was more someone who is comfortable eating one of the guys. >> was that out of a certain shyness or awkwardness? >> i think in some ways it was a kind of shyness. he was not a good dancer, for example.
mary lincoln once told the story that lincoln came up to her when they were courting and said i want to dance with you in the worst way. and she said, he did, in the worst way. brian: how often did you ask that question? lillian: every president, every episode. brian: do you remember who got the biggest positive reaction? lillian: you know, a very positive response to that was for eisenhower. of historian i asked that said he thought he would have made one of the best blind dates you could have with the president. intensely charismatic and interested and made everyone, walked into a room and lit up the room and would have done the same in the blind date context. brian: what are you thinking now? we have half a minute.
what you thinking about next possible podcast you could do? lillian: again, after presidential, after constitutional, i have gotten a ton of ideas from listeners. , i'm not sure do of the exact topic, but i would love to stay in this american history's race -- american history space and ask myself the question, what right now could many of us use to know more about an see where that takes me. i'm open to ideas. if you have them or people watching this. brian: how can they get a hold of you directly? lillian: firstname.lastname@example.org . i would love to hear from them. brian: lillian podcast works for "the washington post" and has
done podcasts that millions of people have listened to. thank you for being with us. lillian: thank you. ♪ >> for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this qanda.org.isit us at transcripts are also available as podcasts. ♪ >> next week on "q&a," we are joined by author of "rocket men," which tells the story of the 1968 apollo eight mission to the moon. watch "q&a" sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span.
>> c-span's "washington journal," live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up monday morning, john fortier joins us to talk about the election security. discussesdon judd border security. and we are live from colorado for the next stop on the 50 capital store with colorado's governor. we will talk about top policy issues in his state. be sure to watch "washington journal" list monday morning. join the discussion. 7:00 p.m.,vening at jens comey will be live on -- james comey will be live on book tv on c-span2 a. he will discuss several the
issues he faced as fbi director, including the rush of investigation, hillary clinton's emails, and his views on president trump. tvch james comey on book monday at 7:00 p.m. eastern. next, theresa may takes questions from members of the house of commons. after that, the supreme court oral >> at 11:00 p.m., another chance to see q and a with lillian with lillian- q&a cunningham. much of the discussion focused on the british government's treatment of caribbean immigrants who came to the u.k. after world war ii, commonly referred to as the wind rushed generation, who face deportation because of a 2012 immigration law. this is 45 minutes. the hostility of some.