tv Richard Nixon and the Media CSPAN August 10, 2018 10:04pm-10:25pm EDT
turmoil. you can listen to the programs as a podcast on spotify or watch any time on c-span.org on the 1968 page. watch 1968 america in turmoil into next week here on c-span3. that is saturday night on 8:00 eastern. women's rights in 1968. and the series continues why congress continues its summer break. with the vietnam war at home on monday, tuesday, the cold war in 1968. next on american history tv. purdue university professor kathryn bronell! how richard nixon's media strategy change from his 1960 presidential campaign laws through his election in 1968 and during his presidency. he also describes the other use broadcasting through there and ministration. we will have the annual meeting
of american historians about 20 minutes. >> kathryn bronell is an assistant professor of history at purdue university. i have to ask you about the panel here at the organization of american historians, and that is nixon in the age of trump explain. >> there are many historical precedents that he has set. there are a lot of parallels and they are in publications frequently. i look at the antagonism. a look at the media that nixon made central to his presidency and very much that donald trump is looking up a lot of that. a lot of the rhetoric. throughout the panel, we are actually looking at different elements. we're looking at the strategies at one of the panelists is looking at, and someone else is looking at ways in which nixon
was trying to shape his legacy. nixon is very relevant. in reshaping the institution of the american presidency. in ways that donald trump has taken advantage of. >> was he a controversial president? >> absolutely. i studied intersection between media and politics. it is really interesting in my first book to look at the role of politics and entertainment politics. the changes are making the office very much changed. >> it was actually nixon who change the presidency and put media in central to how he won the election and that is how he got through. >> if twitter was around in nixon's time, would he have used it? >> i think so. nixon was very aware of new technology offered an
opportunity for him to bypass the press. and connected directly to voters. and his constituents. he would have taken a lot of time, i think. he would've had an impulsive trade to the seems to be very characteristic of president trump, but i think that he absolutely would have seen this is a very powerful way to get his message out there and to bypass the press. >> as a senator, senator john kennedy appeared on the tonight show. bill clinton appeared on mtv. and richard nixon is here on 1968. you wrote about that. why was that a significant moment in pop politics? >> it is significant we put in context of richard nixon's evolution. in 1960, he saw bobby kennedy as appearing on television show in a talk show format.
is i'm hobnobbing with hollywood celebrities. it is how he prepared his campaign. he turned his celebrity to gain political power. he was able to do that on the primary chair -- trail. and stayed with him throughout the 1968 election. nixon actually used that tactic against kennedy. he said that he was perceiving g publicity. when nixon lost the 1968 election and then years later, the governor's race in california, he took some time to figure out why. what went wrong. he studied what he had done. he also studied ronald reagan and in the nixon library, their boxes of research that he did on ronald reagan. he observed that reagan was really effective at using
television to connect it to the emotions of voters. there is a really compelling speech where you have nixon's handwriting on it. he actually says, and reggina -- reagan appeals to the heart. we missing something by not invoking this strategy? and he gathered a team of media advisers and advertising executives, roger ailes, notably. they all agreed. what went wrong in 1960 was that he did not use the media effectively. he did not put himself into celebrity the way that kennedy had. so he completely revamped his media strategy called media central and followed what kennedy did and followed what reagan did. this is significant, because at the end of the day, he believed, and the people that he surrounded himself with believed, that the difference between nixon the loser and
nixon the winner was that the showbiz politics style. >> basement, there were no debates in 1968, but richard nixon, the man in the arena in these televised town hall meetings. they were very carefully orchestrated, explain. >> we saw the televised town hall opportunities as a way -- he wanted to make the appearance that he was being authentic. and off-the-cuff. everything was very carefully planned. the audience members, the demographics of the audience, the questions that they asked him, that was very much about showing that he was going to be a performer and appealed to voters in that capacity. >> nixon is elected president in 1968. one of his legacies is the this
office. >> this is an incredibly important office. no one had really written about it from a historical point of view. it's been really exciting to go through this material. basically, we found it 1970. it connected staffers, like brian lamb who worked -- who were concerned about the media environment and the monopolies and the control that they had. they were really interested in opening up the media environment. nixon saw this as an opportunity that he could use policy to look at the news that he believed were biased. he believed that creating this office in the white house would allow him to have a conversation about telecommunication policy in the way that the president could not support. to the work of the staffers and the attitudes of nixon, and his
belief that it was really telecommunications policy it was important to break up the monopoly of the three networks a lot of new technologies were discussed a very different ways. they talked about deregulation. he change the television industry since the 1950s. >> was it successful? >> it was. in the short-term, no. but to the office of telecommunications policy was very late to this broader war that nixon want to do wage. the network news problem, which is how he called it. he felt that network television was very biased against him and he did all kinds of things to strong-arm the press throughout his presidency. but, in terms of policy, he actually favored opening up the
media environment and expanding more voices, creating more access. by deregulating cable television, and allowing more of a free market approach to the expansion of satellite technology. and so, the short-term, the office of telecommunication policy was seen as part of nixon's war on the press. and in many ways, they were able to connect nixon's broader vision of what he wanted to do in terms of battling network news, but in the long term, people realized that these policies were good for them. that would media is so central to political power, having more openings and more access for programming is good for a variety of groups across a political spectrum. ford and then carter sort of arrange the political component like this is a way to combat the power of bias in network television. they focused on the economic policy.
it is those economic policies that the staffers in the office of telecommunications policy, that was what they were really passionate about. those policies without the long- term. >> from your perspective, did this set the stage for the growth of cable in the late 70s? >> it did. for two reasons. the first is that the presidency became an opportunity. the office of telecommunications became an opportunity to challenge the assumptions that network television needed to have a monopoly a good programming and that people want to that. and then having only three networks, that's all the american public want to. through the office of total medications policy, they said there are other alternatives. we could deregulate cable and we could compete with broadcast television. we do not have to have a corporate monopoly. over the media industries. there can be an opportunity for
deregulation to succeed. and then an unanticipated way, the watergate hearings were really interesting. they provided an economic model that cable would expand with the interest of television it would not necessarily undermine the power broadcast. a lot of economists use it as a way of saying that it would ask band peoples interest in television would not necessarily undermine it. >> if you look at the politics the president and media. which have been successful and what you point to as a 10 years in the white house as an example for future presidents? >> i think that franklin roosevelt was really successful and he was using radio. but motion picture as well, i
think that is really the key to success. how to use new media to advance your agenda? to promote your personality. and what you will bring to the office on the campaign trail. that is also to think about using new technology as a tool. a publicity tool to promote a particularly -- a particular governing agenda. nixon was very good at this. he used radio to win elections. but also to govern. john kennedy stands out to me as well. the 96 election is very transformative. not because his showbiz strategy definitely won him the presidency, but when he looked back at that election, that is what he believed. cultivated a belief that television and image measured
more than anything else. >> ronald reagan implemented the radio address the later went to video. and he said that he knew when to go on the stage and went to leave the stage during his 8 years in the presidency. can you talk about that? >> ronald reagan is really fascinating because he was groomed in the hollywood studio system. he understood how to read an audience. he understood how to connect to them through a very common story. it is not just his performance. they were speaking the same language that in a way, it could tell a story. again connect comp located public policies to make them accessible and relatable to the broader public. not just for his forms, but knowing what stories might resonate, because he understood popular culture and how it works. >> former president nixon had
sent a letter to donald trump urging them to run years ago. >> one of the things that people do not know about richard nixon and the republican party is that richard nixon actually tries to get entertainers running for office in the republican party. he understood that power dynamic that when television and those performances become central to political success, that entertainers are well-equipped to give the republican party. he recruited. he tried to recruit a variety of different entertainers. he saw them as very valuable. very different from the democrats, who rely more on entertainers to raise money. and not usually encouraging them to run for office. >> we're living this now. when you look at the a presidency and his use of media
a year and half into his presidency, what you think that they will look at? >> i think it will be a challenge for historians. mostly because of the volume. you have to look through a lot more in terms of public addresses, and pieces, now that you have to bring a social media. the volume of that will bring into a large challenge for historians as for how to go through all the material. and i think one of the really interesting things that i'm eager to find out in the future, is what kind of strategies are peaking as chumps approach. so much of it seems impulsive, that he just as guides to make a statement. i am curious as to whether or not there is a broader communications strategy behind that or if it is as impulsive as it seems on the surface. >> 50 years after 1968, a tumultuous year, including the election of richard nixon.
defeating hubert humphrey, what would surprise you the most in terms of the media and its role in the events as they unfolded during the historic year? >> in 1968? i think that what surprised me the most about the media in 1968 is that how the public started to understand how it worked. and i'm going to point to, not 1968, but the next year. and the publication of joe mcginnis's book the felling of the president. it was a best-selling exposi. and told about what he did in the 1968 election and the advertising strategy that they had. and this brings the public into the conversation. they're not just sitting back and being manipulated by nixon or any other political contenders. they recognize that this is a conversation and they see journalism start to change.
and they look at what is behind the scenes and healthy messages being constructed, rather than what the message actually is. i think that is a very important shift that is frequently overlooked and still resonates and how we have conversations today. when you have commentary on a news program, so much of the focus is on why is he saying this? how is he staging it? rather than just on the content itself. >> when you're in the university, how do you teach the students in which they ask you about richard nixon, and trump today, and how the presidency is basically sold to the american people? >> when my favorite teaching schools is actually using richard nixon's tapes, which, there's an incredible selection available through the miller center and having them here how nixon talks about the media and that the press is the enemy and the famous tape and he went off on how the press is the enemy. that is really striking.
to hear this a lot, but they don't actually get to go behind the scenes and understand what he is thinking. the great thing about nixon was that he wrote everything down and recorded everything. as an historian it is a great opportunity to see what he was speaking and why. and they would bring students in for the presidency. >> your current book is "showbiz politics" is there another book and you? >> it just came out in the past couple years. so right now, i'm working on the office of telecommunications a policy is the beginning. so the question for this book is what happens when the president believes that media is essential force of power? how does that impact the agenda ? and with nixon, it up so does. >> thank you so much for being
with us. >> thank you for having me. american history tv is normally seen weekends here on c-span3. we are showing some of the american history tv programs this week while congress is on its august recess. coming up, the life and career of a leaning conservative woman. congresswoman, ambassador, and author clare booth luce. that is followed by a look at the growth of conservative influence in the u.s. after the pivotal year of 1968. here are some of the programs you will see this weekend on american history tv here on c- span3. saturday night at 10:00 and sunday night at 4:00 easter, a world war ii film directed by frank capra on the order of general george marshall. part of our reel america series. and on oral histories, a
continuation of our interviews with former congresswoman. the first republican female representative from north carolina talks about her life and the election. sunday afternoon at 2:00, george mason university professor talks about women in america's founding area and the patriot leaders seeking support to fight the -- that is coming up next on american history tv. next on american history tv, michelle easton talks about the life and career of congressman , a master, and author clare booth luce. from heritage foundation. this is about 40 minutes. clare booth luce. i'm so happy to be here today and washington, d.c. with you all to talk about the