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tv   Liking Ike  CSPAN  May 21, 2017 3:49pm-4:02pm EDT

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so robeling center and lofts so much is historic and like to see more and more rehabilitation of the historic buildings. >> john, this has been great. we have seen a lot of trenton, appreciate you showing is around today. >> absolutely. >> c-span2 is in trenton, new jersey, learning more about the literary scene. up next, "liking ike." >> the relationship between politics and celebrity goes back other long time. goes back at least as far back as andrew jackson. who was known and celebrated as the great general of the battle of new orleans, but what we call sort of modern day celebrity politics begins in the 1920s, with warren harding's front
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porch presidential campaign. with harding they kept harding at home, and everybody would come and visit harding, which would create a day of newspaper reportage as we would stay home and be folksy in ohio. the singer al joelson came from 50 broadway stories and paraded down main street and started singing songs in harding's praise. that's the first time we have celebrities in the modern age who are very interested in advocating for a candidate. it's really with the advent of television in the 1950s that celebrity kole -- politics becomes a national episode. eisenhower was an interesting case. eisenhower was somebody who was noted?
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politics. -- was not interested in politics and wasn't interested in celebrity. had been a military man his entire life and in fact he refused to run for president in 1952 but allowed his name to be entered and nominated so he spent most of the 1952 primary campaign overseas in paris where he was cream -- supreme commander of nato. he has the presidential candidate who was offsite, who wasn't participating in his campaign, and so what did people do at various recalls and events supporting -- rallies and events supports eisenhower? they relied on people like clark gable, or helen hayes, to come out some speak on his behalf and to support him as a candidate. one of the interesting things about the 1952 campaign is that the democrats had been in power for 20 years.
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roosevelt had taken them through the depression and through most of world war ii. truman had his own term, and now many people in the country felt that there needed to be a change in government. the republican front runner was a man named senator robert taft. taft was from an old republican family in ohio. his father had been president and he was known in party circles as mr. republican. eisenhower came in and the taft people were meetly concerned about the emergence of this celebrity candidate. they called him a glamor candidate. it's a little hard for us to emergency -- to imagine eisenhower being labeled the glamor candidate but to the taft people whose who eisenhower represented. so eisenhower came in and there was a big struggle between
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traditional republicans and many of these people were not in internationalists, and then people like eisenhower, who were very media savvy, and very good on television and very good on the radio, and also had a much more global vision for the united states. eisenhower was such a hero of monumental proportions. the person who had led the allied forces to victory in world war ii. so that many republicans in hollywood and many democrats who had previously supported roosevelt, found themselves being attracted to eisenhower. there's something.the man that ex-you'd it -- exude ate lot of conversation and inspired confident in his supporters. so, one thing that eisenhower's candidateys for a lot of of peoplees celebrates are good at attracting people from the other
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people, people who can bring in independents and can bring in swing voters, in this case swing-voting democrats. something that eisenhower's advertising people knew and they worked very hard to exploit it. >> you like ike, i like ike, everybody likes ike. >> for president. >> we'll take ike to was. >> we don't want john or dean or hari -- harry. you like ike, eye like ike, everybody likes ike for president. hang out the banner, beat the trumps, we'll take ike to washington. ♪ note. >> in the 1950s commentate tokers were concerned that politics would become an exercise in show business, and their concern was that it would -- politics would turn voters into an audience and that the audiences would just soak up
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everything that had been told to them. a time period when people believed advertising was a form of mind control, and so people saw that if there was a totalitarian regime in the soviet union where people were not allowed to think independently, we were creating our own totalitarian environment through mass advertising so people like john steinbeck, or vans packard, who wrote eloquently about the problems of turning the nation into a mass of tv viewer. somehow they would all become zombies and that was a word that people used, become zombies and that's one thing when you're buying a breakfast cereal but another thing when you're looking at a presidential candidate. icening hour has a very uncover -- eisenhower has a very uncomfortable relationship with television and advertising.
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he was uncomfortable when he was asked to appear in television commercials. he was filmed by a guy named rosser reeves, very famous advertising -- he created the first television commercials for a presidential campaign. eisenhower was leery of the process and he was heard muttering to himself to think an old soldier has come to this. so there was a lot of resistance with eisenhower. but in -- it took him several years until he realized this was a useful way of connect with the elect for ata useful way of expecting -- connecting with the american people so hob would uncomfortable with television and show business as firms, came -- at first and came around seeing it could be beneficial to him and his administration. so politics has changed and
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grown tremendously since the 1950s. after eisenhower we had the rise of jfk and the glamorization of the first family. by the late 1960s, we have celebrities who are very involved in nixon's campaign, and extraordinarily involved in the campaigns for the democratic candidates, particularly during the primaries, gene mccarthy, bobby kennedy being among them. then in the 1980s we had the rise of ronald reagan. and reagan was an interesting case because reagan got his start in politics and in television back in the 1950s. the same advertising agency, dbdo, that had controlled many of ike's political appearances, that got ronald reagan to move from being a film actor to being a television host, and then a
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spokesman for conservative causes. so we can actually trace reagan back to the sort of same promotional team that had played such an important role in eisenhower. the age of mass media, an outage of television -- first radio and then television and now cable television and social media -- celebrity has become for good or for bad a pretty important ingredient in how people evaluate presidential candidates. it's not that they're looking for somebody who is a star. it's not like they're looking for somebody who has their chops in entertainment. but they are looking for people who have a certain star quality, people who look good on television, who they feel they can live with seeing on their tv screens and on their newspapers for the next four years.
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so, the influence of celebrity is more powerful today than it certainly was in eisenhower's time. i'd love for readers to come away from "liking ike" with a strong history of the phenomenal. people talk about it's just come to us and something that has just come from the hollywood left. but in reality, this has been with us for a long time, and it raises a lot of questions about what we expect from our democracy. one of the interesting things to is, of course we have a reality television star who is our president. one thing that reading about eisenhower in the 1950s showed me is how things change very much in terms of what we expect from our entertainment and our media.
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as i was saying before, most of the commentators in the 1950s were worried that the influence of show business on politics would create a kind of listless environment in which we wouldn't really think critically about our politics. this is what eisenhower's adviserred aimed to do. they wanted to create a very peaceful center, that people could find a lot of agreement in as they watched variety shows supporting a presidential candidate. the same time there were a few commentators who said, you know, television may seem like it's going to neuter all of us and may seem like it's going to seem very -- make things very peaceful. but in fact television is going to be better at expressing conflict than it is expressing
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or creating peace, and i think we can say now in 2017 that television is much, much better at creating conflict and creating division rather than creating a sense of agreement and consensus. [inaudible conversations] >> dufor being here. i'm the director of events. we're declaringed to have you .


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