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tv   Q A  CSPAN  November 17, 2013 11:00pm-12:01am EST

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banquet this past week. a discussion of the priorities and challenges as the military alliance prepares for a meeting a year from now in britain. >> this week on q&a, author and historian doris kearns goodwin discusses her latest historical narrative entitled, "the bully pulpit." >> your new book, "the bullypulpit," theodore roosevelt, william howard taft and the golden age, you flip it over, there's a whole other story on the bike. i want you to start off with who's this man right here? >> the founder of the magazine, one of the most interesting,
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colorful, fascinating vulnerable character that i've ever written about. he was orphaned in a certain sense by his father. his mother came and immigrated to america. he lived in incredible poverty but dreamed of becoming a journalist. he has a dream when he's a young man of creating a magazine that will be a cheap magazine, so it's not the atlantics and the harpers, but 10 cents, people can read it. it will be a powerful good. he will hire staff, pay them for years to do research so they can come up with real pieces of fact and stories to persuade the country they have to do something about the industrial age. >> what year? >> he started in the 1890s in the magazine, 1893 -- in the midst of the depression in 1893. the magazine flounders for a while before it grows. >> when did you know you were going to feature these
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muck-rakers. >> i'm not sure i can remember what happened. i started with teddy rose vel. i knew so much had been written, i needed another story. got into taft. knowing they had been friends and knowing they broke apart in 1912. when i figured out what was the difference between the two, it was teddy's public leadership, taft's failure as a public leader. i started reading about the progressive era, the magazines, the press, they were at the center of it. they played a role -- even the best historians writing secondarily will say these people are the vanguards of the progressive movement. i started reading about them. i didn't know them until he came into my life. >> why did he want to have a magazine? what drove him? >> the reason he wanted a magazine is he wanted to speak to middle class or ordinary people about the issues of the day. he knew newspapers would be too truncated, that the story might
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be there and make a splash, but the next day the newspaper would be there. if he could create a monthly magazine and give his researchers enough time to produce a lasting story, they would be talking about it for months. he loved being in the center of thingings. he was like teddy roosevelt. you knew sam mcclure was there. had the manic side. >> when we started the magazine and hired the four people that you talked about. actually the three of the four you were talking about, how old were all of these people? >> they're in their 30s. that's the amazing thing. ida is the first woman he hires. the first person he hires. the story of when he finds her, he read an article she's written. she went to paris all alone in her college, the only woman in her freshman class in allegheny. she prays she never wants to get married because she has
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ambitions to be something. she's starving in paris, writing little articles. he bounds up to 80 steps, i have to see you, i have to talk, ten minutes. he tells her about the dream of this new magazine and she's the first one that he brings onboard. >> where was she from and how did she get into write ing? >> well, she had grown up in pennsylvania. he got involved in an independent oil producer. he was making more money than he dreamed. john d. rockefeller comes down with standard oil, destroys her father's business. and her mother who wanted to be a teacher and had been one and wanted higher education had to stop to take care of the family. that's why ida dreamed she was going to be something other than getting married. so she goes to college. she works on a local magazine for six years, still vowing never to get married. and then she decides to save up enough money she's going to go to paris. she dreams of writing a
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biography of madam lohan in the french revolution. she tells her boss she's leaving. he meanly says to her, how are you going to support yourself when you're there? she said, writing, of course. he said, you're not a writer, you'll starve. she remembers that. she works on the biography. he brings her back and she becomes the linchpin of that organization. sam mcclure had a crazy temper she. could keep everybody together. >> come back to her. another person on the back of this book, another muckraker? who invented that name? >> teddy roosevelt did. he gave a speech, even though he was so dependent on these people, so friendly with them, after a while, their magazine got copied by a lot of other people and became sensational and character assassination type. he got mad at the idea that they only look down at the ground,
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muckrakers. they labeled them. my guys were upset about that at first. then later they wore it as a badge of honor. >> do we have a muckraker today? >> the question some people have said to me, do you think the wikileaks thing and edward snowden -- no, it's really different. they wrote long pieces, incredibly researched. factually act rate. they weren't just releasing information, they were creating it. they were mini historians, who would support that? we have propublica. that's somewhat in the line of what these are. i value what they were doing. but mcclure had the money to give them a salary for two years and give them expenses -- he goes bankrupt. he gives so much money to the reporters but it was their hay day. >> the late michael hastings did a big piece on general mcchrystal for rolling stone.
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was that a muckraker? >> it was piece that was factually accurate. it had an impact. it led to the ending of his reign over there. in some ways, it was. but the difference between that and this, however, is what they did, when they did the articles on standard oil or the railroad abuses or the meat packing plans with upton sinclair, they mobilized the public opinion. that's the triangle that was different. the mcchrystal thing happens, it's president obama and mcchrystal making a decision he's going to leave, it's not mobilizing the public to force the congress to do social and economic legislation. >> ray standard baker. who is he? >> he grew up with a father who was in business but loved telling stories. listening to stories orally mattered so much to him.
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he was supposed to go to law school. he goes to michigan state. he takes a course -- one of the first courses in journalism called "rapid writing." i like to think i missed that course somewhere along the line. he became enunanimous mored with the idea of journals and started working for the chicago record and got interested in the pullman strike, a lot of the violent stuff that was going on in the 1890s. it's a turbulent time. and some of his articles, then, were attracted to mcclure. mcclure gets him to come from there to mcclure's magazine. he said it was the most intoxicating, extraordinary atmosphere that he ever had. so it wasn't that he had mcclure and the magazine, they became family. they would meet for lunch every day. they would share dinners, criticize one another's work. they made each other better. baker said he looked back on the time, the happiest time in his life. he had a mission and a call. he wrote about railroads. and he documented it in the two-year project the abuses of the railroad.
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teddy roosevelt reads the proofs of every one of his articles ahead of time. sends ray baker. his message on the railroads, baker's criticism, they maintain their integrity. baker looks back on the time and says nothing would ever surpass it. none of the regulation gets passed. >> explain that again. roosevelt would read these articles before they were published? >> yeah, they would send the proofs of the articles to him. >> why? >> he asked them. he knew, for example, when ray baker started on the series on the railroads, roosevelt knew his next big task was to get a bill to regulate the railroads. knowing it was there, can i see your articles as they come along so i know they'll be educated. he'd have him to lunch, they would talk about them. when he was deciding what the regulation looked like, he sent this message to baker, what do you think of this? baker disagreed entirely. he said you're not strong enough. it's wrong. you have to do x instead of y. roosevelt fought back. he said, no, you're wrong.
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you don't understand the practical politics. the message comes, you put baker's idea in it. baker was stunned. >> what would be the american population back in the early 1900s. >> i should know, i don't know. you know these important things. >> i can't remember. it's like -- $100 million. >> no radio, no television. there's no wire service -- telegraph, i guess. but what was the size of it? >> for them, it reached $400,000, it was big for that magazine. people share it, columns are written about it. editorials are written about it. it sparked a conversation. they felt in villages all across the country, people were talking about the suspect.
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not today, the attention span, when the articles of standard oil comes out, it becomes the topic across the country. railroads become the topic. when lincoln stephens writes about the corruption of the city, all over, people are discussing what he's doing. so it's a smaller world. >> another muckraker is lincoln steffens. >> a confident character. he and roosevelt fought a lot more than others did. he meets roosevelt first. his father tells him, it's time for you to get a job. he comes home, gets a job on the new york evening post as a police report er so when teddy roosevelts seeks him out. they were an intelligence
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network. they become friends. they convince him to take nightly rambles between 12:00 and 4:00 a.m. to see whether the policemen on the beat are doing their jobs so he would disguise himself with a floppy hat and a long coat and go around and if a policeman weren't doing his job, sitting around with a woman or something, he'd call them to the office the next day. cartoons appears, big spectacles and teeth being more frightening to policemen than anything else. then he gets called for the first stuff. but you said it was like getting out of a bed and diving into the lake. it was so electrifying, the atmosphere. but he's a manager at mcclure's. he's sitting at the desk. mcclure said what are you doing in a desk. get out, get to the city. find out the corruption. what produces corruption in city after city. this is the time of tamany hall,
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the political bosses, ties to the criminal world below, the business community above. he has the ability to get them to talk. he would say this is how it's done in this city, how's it done in yours? he had pride to tell them. he exposes them. some of the guys go to jail. some lose their office and reformers come to the city. so that had a huge impact. >> are their letters available to look at? >> i got them as presences. you have to find them, not easy to find. i got a couple of them. one from 1903, the big one -- the big issue when they're all together. they're beautiful.
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the print is nice. there's a big article. they run over a year or two years, sometimes they ear together. the railroads and standard oil thing might be together. >> does the library of congress have them all? yes. >> i read all of the articles in real form. you can read them all. >> he says i've gone to russia and i can see the future. >> lincoln steffens became more radical. in 1908, he would tend towards socialism. roosevelt would tell him, you don't understand, this is a democracy, we're going to move slowly forward, we're going to move forward. you want to take over the railroads and the utilities. he goes to russia and thinks he sees the future. he later recants on that. but he was wilder than the others were. and they always argued with him. >> ray baker, lincoln steffens,
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and ida tarbell. what were their individual relationships with president roosevelt and president taft? >> ida had more of a relationship than the others did. but she kept herself more in new york. she didn't go to washington as much as the others did. ray baker saw them dozens of times. went to saginaw hill. lincoln steffens had a long relationship even though it was fraught with tension. at one point, they wanted to study the corruption of the federal government. roosevelt gives him a little piece of paper. you can do whatever you want. whatever it is, i'll take care of it. he gives it to lincoln steffens. he said i want everyone to see this letter to know it was the truth.
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they could not get them to talk as much as they hoped they would. he would never write about the corruption of federal government. he wrote corruption on the state government and city governments. >> five total, we start out with sam mcclure, william allen white of emporia, kansas. >> that's amazing. a country editor in emporia, kansas almost never left home. he loved home. he was one of the most quoted journalists of his time. he wrote lots of short stories, fiction, books, and he wrote articles of mcclure's. he was the one closest to theodore roosevelt. he was a conservative. his father was a doctor in town. he meets the populist. teddy has begun to know that something has to be done about the problems of the poor. the problem of the age is distribution, not production anymore. and he changed william allen
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white who became almost like an accolade for teddy. and even then, although -- he said we walked around washington the first time we met him and we talked and we talked and we talked and he sounded the trumpet of the new age that was to come. so he becomes a real progress greszive. he's active in party politics like they used to be in the 19th century. even they can criticize each other. they wrote 300 letters to each other. at one point, he criticized teddy's writing. wille said something is happening, it's too long. one sentence had 20 lines. and roosevelt writes back, of course, you're right. roosevelt was such a master of communicating and it was unusual that he had done something like that. he would talk in simple language. when roosevelt went west on his train tours, white would be there to introduce him to a lot of the people. the west was more progressive than the east. it was where radicalism began. he introduced him to a lot of
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his friends and he helped roosevelt to be known in the west. >> did mcclure publish him? >> tons of articles. >> he was based in emporia, kansas. >> writing articles every couple of months. mcclure loaned money for his house. not really like a family. absolutely. >> all four of these characters have -- if he was in emporia, he didn't have the kind of relationship the other three did. >> he would come on forreys to new york. he would meet with them and stay a couple of weeks. they stayed in his house in emporia, kansas. they travelled together. they went on the vacation once to the grand canyon, ida. mcclure -- not mcclure, ida and white. they had lots of relationships. he was more distant in kansas. he never wanted to leave. that's what ida said she loved about him. he wasn't lured of the glamour of the big city.
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>> how hypocritic is it that roosevelt read a book a day. >> he would read at the moment he would awaken at any moment. if he had time when he was getting dressed, waiting fore anied to get dressed, breakfast, he would read. between appointments in the white house he would read. at night, he would go back and -- he said books were essential to a leader because books were about human nature and what a leader needs to know more than anything is the soul of human nature. he said books were companions that once met are never lost. whether it was a book a day or not, he was certainly always reading. when he was in the middle of a cold strike, the most formidable deadlock, he writes the library of congress, he said i'm in the middle of this thing, i need books on hysteria or early mediterranean races. thank god, i read those they had
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nothing to do with what i was doing and for that reason, they were great. books, i think, he had asthma, he was isolated as a child from active manic activities until they made his body, they became a source of solace for him. i don't know if it's a book a day. it would be an equivalent. he wrote articles. if he read an article by somebody he'd like, he'd invite them to the white house for lunch. >> mcclure started in 1890 -- >> 1893. >> how long did it last? >> it goes in the form with all of these guys until 1906. and then it lasts after that, they leave him. what happened is mcclure was a genius. he was also a manic depress sant. and in his state sometimes he did things that they couldn't deal with. he was trying to create yet another magazine in 1906 when this one was on the top of the world. put all of the money in the
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newer, bigger magazine. they thought everything would be diminished. he was having an affair with a woman which had become public to them. it wasn't that they were prudish, but they knew they had been exposing everybody else. in his affair, they wrote letters to the woman. they loved his wife too, they knew his wife forever. if it became public, they could be responsible for losing some of their credibility. they all broke from him, all these guys and john phillips, the managing editor. they formed their own magazine, the american magazine. that lasted until about 1913. mcclure's lasted a little longer. but mcclure was thrown out of his own magazine. it's really 1912, 1913. what happens is they both get bought up by larger business firm. and then they don't want these exposure when articles in the same one anymore. so they felt they didn't have the freedom they once had and they all split apart.
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>>. the rchlt president -- >> 1901-1908. >> taft was president for what year s? >> 1908 to 1912. this is out of context. at the end of your book in the epilogue, you tell the story -- what was it? the hotel in chicago. set that up. >> what happens is, because -- i didn't know, they were such close friends before teddy hand picks taft to be his successor in 1908, teddy decided he shouldn't run again for the third term. he announces that when he wins the second time in 1904 could have killed himself later for doing that, he wanted to be president again. he loved being president, adored being at the center of the world. picks taft, runs it campaign, gives him all sorts of advice. don't be seen on a horse, don't be playing golf. taft wins, he's radiant about his victory. he went to africa to give taft chance to be on his own.
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and his progressive friend when he comes back, he hasn't been progressive as you thought he would be. he's become part of the old guard. it really just isn't true. he failed to deal with some of the issues. he compromised them too much and the progressives got angry. teddy decides to run against him and it's heart breaking for taft. this is a friendship that's broken in addition to feeling betrayed. teddy feels betrayed by him. it's ugly. he calls him a guinea pig, a puzzle wit, a fat head. taft argues teddy would be a danger to the republic. forms the third party. and then together they had 50% of the vote as the republican and new -- the woodrow wilson wins. so, it leaves a terrible strain on this friendship. and for several years after ward, they try, friends do, to bring teddy and taft together.
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it's like an arm of neutrality. nothing works, until blackstone hotel in 1918 in the spring. and teddy roosevelt is going to die not long there after. taft comes to the blackstone hotel in chicago. he's going up in the elevator and the operator said roosevelt is in the dining room sitting alone in a corner table. taft said take me downstairs again. there's 100 dieners in the room. a reporter there as well. goes over to rez svelt. says so happy to see you. roosevelt embraces him. somehow it all worked by that time. they sit down together and the entire restaurant clabs, an eruption of applause. teddy says thank gold we got together. not too many months later, teddy dies. embolism in his sleep and taft goes to the private funeral. crying more than anyone there. he says to teddy's sister, i would have mourned all my life if we hasn't become friends in the end. i was looking for the ending.
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i didn't know i was going to find it. the fact there was a reporter there is incredible luck. >> roosevelt was only 60. >> 60. >> when howard taft died in '72. things happened after roosevelt died, to taft. how many times when he was president did he offer him a seat on the supreme court? taft, the secretary of war? >> three times. taft's dream. >> three time s? >> it was taft's dream from the time he was a young boy to sit on a court. his father was a judge, he was a judge. he was happy as a judge. he probably never should have gotten into politicings. he had a judicial temperament. he liked the deliberation, he liked the quietness. you didn't have to explain decisions in the court, right? so teddy offers it to him twice in the philippines. but me can't leave the job. he's governor general of the philippines. they love him over there. they did a good job. he's almost tempted to do it.
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but he says my duty is to stay here. then he comes back to secretary of war. he'll still have control of the philippines as secretary of war. he becomes the most important person in teddy's cabinet. in 1906, he's offering it to him again. because he knows the court is going to be making big decisions about the legislation being passed by the roosevelt administration. taft really attempted that time. he's being talked about as a potential presidential candidate. even though, teddy has said, you really have to think about whether you want this taft or if you have a good likelihood of being president. taft's brothers, wife, people closest to him wanted him to be in the presidential tract. almost against his will, though it's partly him desiring it, he decides to not take the supreme court decision and the supreme court appointment and go for the possible presidency. so sad to think if he had done it then, he would have had the
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rest of his life on the court. finally in 1921 after teddy is dead, warren harding comes in and appoints him chief justice of the supreme court. he said it's the happiest day of his life. the decade on the supreme court. three decades possibly if he took him to the beginning. >> the blackstone hotel meeting in chicago came between 1912 and -- >> came in 1918, yes. >> what were the two of them doing after their presidency s? >> well, taft became the professor of yale of constitutional law. he was teaching there, essentially. happily teaching there. that was law again, he lived in new haven until the time he becomes the supreme court justice. he had some boards that he was on in world war i. teddy went back to sagimore hill and hep did not get involve in the 1916 race. there were some progressives that were hoping he would run again. as a result, the progressive party began to dwindle out because teddy's leadership
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wasn't there. and he wrote -- he wrote his book. he took that trip on the river of doubt, which is probably what lessened his life because he got all sorts of fevers from that. world warm i, he was a be real critic. once we finally got in the war, all he wanted was to command a battalion overseas. he actually asked wilson personally if he could take charge of some soldiers overseas and wilson turned him down. that was the real sadness. four sons in the war. he felt he deserved to be in the war. he wanted to be in the war. it was a part of teddy from that time when he was a child when he became this strong person and he shot down all sorts of timidity and courage was the most important quality to him that he felt he would like to die on a battlefield. kind of a romantic crazy image. but he wasn't allowed to go.
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that contributed to the end of his life. >> something captivating about his personality. not just his personality, he understood how to deal with the people. when he communicates to them? his short hand language, speak softly, carry a big stick and maxwell house the slogan, good to the very last drop. he says about mckinley. he's the backbone of a chocolate eclair. how can you not like a guy that's so colorful with language that the people really like? there are problems with him. i find his attitude toward war very unpleasant. the idea that the victories of war are greater than the victories of peace, seem to me, crazy. that comes from that childhood and that sense of courage. but then you see the other side of it, in the 1912 campaign, he's campaigning. he's about to go to the place where he's giving the speech.
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and he gets shot, right, in the chest. this is the courage part of teddy. bleeding. the bullet went through his chest. he insists on delivering the speech and speaks for nearly two hours and finally lets them take him to the hospital. the bullet penetrated. the only thing that prevented him from going to a worst place in his chest, he had a big pocket in his glasses. hit the spectacles and went upwards. but the courage it took to deliver that speech, how can you not like a guy like that? >> what's interesting to me is -- you decided at some point to put t.r. and taft on the cover. but when you announced what you were going to do seven or eight years ago, it was going to be a book on theodore roosevelt. at what point did william howard taft make the cover? >> i think what happened is the same as lincoln as i started reading the books about teddy
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roosevelt, so many books written about him. i just didn't feel i could contribute enough to just write another biography about teddy. great studies about the progressive era. my favorite era in history. favorite historians have written about that era. i needed something a little different. i needed a team of rivals for lincoln. when i started thinking about taft, it would give me an insight to teddy and then the insight to lincoln. he got bigger and bigger in the story as i went along. >> before a packed decatur crowd, he linked taft directly to william larrimore that would be expelled from the illinois legislature to obtain his senate seat. he said earlier he trashed taft. why is there so much respect for him? he feels going against his own party and choice for president. that's a nasty thing for somebody to do. >> i think when historians and
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myself included look at his behavior from 1910, 1911, on, that some of that respect diminishes. because i think partly he just wanted to be president again. he couldn't wait. if he had waited until 1916, he probably would have been president. so it shows that he did get carried away with himself. and once he takes on an adversary, the adversary becomes an enemy. this is totally unfair what you just read. not true he had anything to do with the corrupt senator, taft. teddy said once he takes on somebody, he has to destroy the person in order to justify his behavior. i don't like that side of him. the side of him from 1910, 1911, 1912 on, on the other hand, if you read the progressive party platform, the speeches are so forward-looking. they're extraordinary. they are harbingers of the new deal. and what they're saying and believing in, i do believe in. so it's two sided at that point
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in time. >> book on page 333, i wrote the word "doris" in the margin. tarbell began her customary search for primary sources and taft facilitated the fact that numerous state and federal authorities had been investigating standard oil since its founding. the reason i wrote your name in there because the more i read about her, the more it sounded like you. did you steal that at all. >> it would be an honor to feel connected to her? >> why. >> because i respected to much the work she did. i think people are more talented than i am. i think i can do two things. i can tell a story, which i think ida tarbell did and i can do lots of research. i love the primary resources. going back to the letters, the diaries, the private journals. that's what she did. she felt she didn't just want to write an analytic book to
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everybody. she wanted to get the stuff up. i felt connected. six feet tall. don't look alike. never got married. but i do feel a sense that she was ahead of her time and i respect so much the decision she made and she was willing to be lonely, even, in order to have the ambitions met. boy, were they met. at the time she was considered joan of arc as a crusader. the most famous journal iles. they had a play on broadway, the lion and the mouse. she made him to a philanthropic good guy. so she was an important person at that time. more than that, she's lasted. she also wrote about lincoln. you know? i mean she wrote one of the early -- she went and interviewed the people doing lincoln in lincoln's footsteps and she's the one who once said, somebody asked why does so many people write about lincoln? she said he was so companionable. why did i write about lincoln?
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i wanted to live with him. what about teddy? i wanted to live with him. >> there's another connection. ida tarbell wasn't close to theo roosevelt. i found an article written right after the election. in "the new york times," you know this article. i'm sure joey cantor wrote it. it says here, even though ms. goodman openly allied with mr. obama worried he no longer was so eager to put a lasting accomplishments that he had not forged a strong enough day-to-day connection -- next page, with the nation. this is an article that talked about the sessions that you organized with the president of the united states three different times with famous historians. i wanted to show the audience, though, the number of the names of the historians and asked you how this worked and what you learn from it and why you did it. and the names are on the screen. robert carroll, h.w. brand. michael beschloss, doug
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brinkley, edwin morris. what was your role? that? how did you get there? >> the president said he loves history. he said he would love to meet on somewhat of a regular basis, once a year it's happened, with historians who come with the knowledge of their president in their head and can give him advice. so it's not like we go in there and give little talks. it's more that be we sit around dinner, just us, get a couple of members of the white house staff. michelle went at one point, and the president. and he talks about whatever is happening at that time. someone might talk about how he might have communicate in the past, how people dealt with congress, lbj in the past. and tell story from our guys that might be an echo for him. but for us to be together is half of the pleasure of it all. to feel that camaraderie with the fellow historians, in the room, truman, jackston, eisenhower, reagan. like the presidents have come into the room in our heads. >> what are the rules?
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>> never been quoted. >> the rules -- >> no, not about the substance of the meeting. the idea -- the fact of the meeting was not unprivate. it was known. but he wanted to have -- and it wasn't really violated. because people didn't tell too much of the stuff. but they weren't supposed to talk about what we talked about or the whole freedom -- i usually a big talker didn't talk. >> a quote from doug brinkley. we pushed teddy roosevelt like crazy on it. did it work? >> we went to the place where teddy delivered the speech in 1910. he talked about fairness and the square deal and the idea at that time when it was in 1910 and then 2010, i guess. so i think what happens is he keeps reading anyway, a certain president becomes interested, he might think more about that president. that's a good thing. the thing is that lincoln would constantly go back to the
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founding fathers. when fdr was there, he was reading lincoln. teddy was reading lincoln at the whole time. it's healthy for the presidents. why should they have to become a president without learning from the history of the guys that went there before. so few of them have sat in that office, reading their memoirs and biographies has to mean something. or our whole profession wouldn't mean anything. >> you've been involved in presidents forever, starting with lyndon johnson. ms. goodwin is helping the speech writers draft an address and build a foundation for a second term that was a start to finish tribute to roosevelt. how much of that have you done with this president? >> not that much? i got to know the young speech writers. i thought they were great. and every now and then, they would talk to me about what he was thinking about talking about. i might send them some historical anecdotes. if i had been younger, i think, i would have loved to have been down there, maybe, even being part of the administration more?
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i'm writing my book. i live in concord, massachusetts. so it was more a friendship of the speech writers and the friendship with president obama. >> what should the public know about historians' relationships with president s? >> the interesting thing is i'm not sure i'd feel able to write about a current president because i like the distance that the time -- the only one i ever wrote about that i knew was lincoln johnson. that presented all of the turbulent problems. i knew the guy. how much of what he told me could i talk about? i couldn't have done it until after he died. but every since that, even though i'm so grateful to my relationship to lbj, it started everything. i wouldn't have been a presidential historian without that incredibly wonderful character. nonetheless, i feel more comfortable not trading on what i know from the people now and rather writing from the treasures and the diaries back 100 years ago. i don't think i could write about a current president. >> david kennedy, historian from
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stanford in this piece, it was almost like he was writing his own history book about himself. >> i think he thinks about that. i think he thinks -- the presidents inevidently do now more than before. as soon as he gets in office, people talk about where is he going to rank, how's he going to fit? he thinks that way. he has a fence of himself from the outside in. i think that's true. >> david kennedy is here before the election. i want to get your take on this. >> sure. >> i have been very -- very supportive of the barack obama campaign. and i think he's a very interesting political figure? >> why? >> not least of all, for the quite simple reason that he's black. that's not the only reason that i think he's interesting, but i do think that that -- his candy should be successful. if he becomes president of the united states, it seems to me that would make a powerful statement to ourselves and to the world. >> what do you think of that?
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>> i think no matter what, that president obama does, that will be probably the first line in the memory of him. it was a big deal to have the first african-american president in the united states. and to have it be such a buoyant election. if only we could go back to the moments of emotion that people on all sides that somehow america has become truer to the promise of self by electing him president. people were jumping around in the streets feeling like they turn the corner. after he becomes president for a while, barack obama, the democrats, the republicans, tea party people are feeling one way or the other about him. the moment is not remembered in a sense. but i think david kennedy is right in predicting that would be a big moment. i think it is. >> what would you tell the president right now if he had you in the oval office? >> i think i would tell him even if the bully pulpit is diminished today in the power,
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teddy roosevelt defines it as educating public sentiment. mobilize the public to move in ways it doesn't want to go, congress is stuck. he can't get that to work. whether he could have lbj stuff, have him over, been in the white house, i don't know. i think he should have done more of it. it doesn't hurt to have him over and use the white house as a tool for persuasion. it just seems stuck. and the only chance is to mobilize the public to pressure from the outside in. i don't know if it can be done anymore. when he gave a speech, roosevelt did, it would be put in full in the newspaper. it was the way he wanted it to be reported. when fdr on the radio, 84% of the people were listening to him. you could walk down the street on a hot chicago night and not miss a word of what he was sailing. early days of television, ray dan gan, for jfk up to reagan, they gave a speech, networks report it. you watch your own cable
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network. you see an excerpt of the speech. the pundits are tearing it down before you begin. our attention span is limited. i'm not sure we're focused. new breaking news comes in. i think about the gun control thing, there was a case when barack obama won the second term, he announced he was going to put everything he had to getting the background checks. moderate gun control provision. he said he was going to go the public. he did go to the public. he had all of those meetings with the people who had been hurt in the terrible incident and still, it didn't get through the congress. why? partly because of the power of the special interest of the nra. but because our attention goes to something else. next thing you know, there was other breaking news. we don't have the sustainability to push in a congress that we had in this person's time. >> it will never go back to what it was. so what does that mean for future president s? >> you're going to have to figure it out still. in a democracy, the only way to get the will of the people and
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to educate them, talk simply to them. make them understand what it is you want them to do. and have them active once again. i've got to believe, somehow, i guess the reason i wanted to live in this era, the progressive era in the last seven years is because there was a time that the public cared about public issues. not just the reporters, but churches, settlement house workers, the desire for social justice was spread among the public. fdr said some generations have a rendezvous with destiny, some generations are meant to really have public life at the center of their private lives. new deal was one of those times in world war ii, the progressive era, the civil war. i guess the '60s too. so i think even though it may not look how we're going to come out of this now, another generation will come just as the mcclure people were hoping at the end, let another generation of journalists come but let the same desire be part of the dialog dialogue. so much journalism in place
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today. many may not have the resources to do what my guys were able to do. we come back from these thingings. i remember fdr's great speech in 1952 he warned the country it was going badly. pearl harbor would happen. there will be valleys before we get through. i guess we still go too. i am sure if you live in the '20s, it would have been excited to be in the new deal. lincoln was a young man who was worried his generation had no challenges to face. the founding fathers had done everything. then the anti-slavery and becomes the civil war in lincoln. doesn't look now that we can imagine another period that the country is mobilized. congressmen are excited to do what they're doing. they're doing what they should. but it will happen. maybe in the next generation, not mine. >> did you see on the piece in "the new york times" about john f. kennedy. >> just recently? >> yes. yes. >> i want to read you -- the
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piece was that there was a tremendous change in the attitude historians have about john f. kennedy and high school kids are reading a lot of books that are saying completely different things. i'll read what climber said here. the first and for many the last in depth question about the 35th president comes from high school textbooks. on the eve of the assassination, a review of two dozen written since then shows that the portrayal of him has fallen sharply over the years. do you see that? >> yes, i suspect there's a reason for that only in the sense that at the time when he feels killed, because of pictures, because of politics as a honorable location, getting people to go in the peace corps. the reality of the fact that he was president for three years the reality of what was going on
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in the private life, the fact he didn't have time for the accomplishments. my cousin who worked with jfk and bobby, bobby was lamenting, how is history going remember my brother. he was there for three years. and dick trying to make him feel better, julius caeser was only in for three years. he's remembered. and he said, yeah, but it helps to have shakespeare write about you. he'll be remembered in the public image. there was good that he did. the way he handled the cuban missile crisis and the peace in the end when he made the american university speech and making young people want to be a rt part of the peace corps. it wasn't enough time to make him an historic president, the way popular opinion would have him up there with george washington and lincoln. that won't happen. >> you go to arlington national cemetery, you know lots of people are standing at the
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eternal flame and the john f. kennedy grave. if you walk just a little bit over to the west, there's the monument to william howard taft. you never see anybody there. this man was president for four years and chief justice for nine. and the other although moderate, was only there for 1,000 days. tell me about the two. >> one made it to history the way jfk did in a way that william howard taft didn't. my only small hope about giving him a decent space in this book is that he was an honorable man. he was much more than we thought he was. not just a fat guy that happened to lose the election in 1912, but a guy who believed in the power of government, much like teddy roosevelt in the earlier days as a progressive. if there's any value of writing about a person, my whole hope is the glories and another generation will see them as human beings. may not mean they're going to go
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trooping to their monumental goal. one of the things i was proudest of in the lincoln book is lincoln didn't need me or anybody else to make me care about him. william harry steward in the lincoln book and when i found out tons more people were going to the howard in new york, ill thought, yes. maybe that's the ultimate when i suddenly see people learning about william howard taft. >> i counted 41 events you're involved in from the beginning of november until next year. but you had 26 events in the book tour. why are you doing this after all of these years? >> because i like it. and because i've been hibernating for the last eight months, especially, the book was so overdue that i couldn't do television. i had to stay home, i didn't take a vacation, i didn't do to many red sox games. but after you've got so much time writing it, to be able to talk to people about it and meet the people who have read the other books that i've written,
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there are these people who love history. and if you can go somewhere and people tell you, i loved history my whole life, or i've just recently come to history. i can talk to them about my love of history, you feel you will have an impact on them. i do enjoy it. but i also say, maybe on december 14 when it's over, i will have a nice glass of wine at home and say yea from home. >> how many books did you sell with the lincoln book? >> i think in the end, it was almost 2.5 million copies all together from hard back to paper back. but it had three lives. it came out well, did really well. then president obama put hillary to the cabinet. the team of rivals became a story. he said he would take it to a desert island. and then the movie "lincoln" came out. that's like lightning hitting. it's not going to happen again. it's lincoln. lincoln. there are people out there as you know so well who will buy anything about lincoln, 14,000 books written about him. and many of them having readers.
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>> let me ask you about the tough period in your life ten years ago when you were accused of plagiarism. i want to go through that so much as i want to ask you if you and your husband sit around saying i can't believe we got through this so well. and if you do, how did you do it? >> well, i think the most important thing was to understand that what i had done was not to fail to credit the authors, but i knew i hasn't been careful about of where the quote marks were. so the hardest thing was the use of that word. because i didn't feel like that had happened to me. i love leaving credit. i give huge notes in the books. i remember saying to my husband at times, is it going to be okay? he said lit be okay. i acknowledged the error. i wrote about how it happened. it did turn out to be okay. make sure you learn from that. all of the attention i put into research and making sure my primary sources are right, now i make sure that all of the quotes
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are right and put in the right place. i got through it. what the adversity is a quality all my guys have had to do, a much larger scale, fdr having to get through polio, lincoln's life, teddy roosevelt talking about losing wife and mother all in the same day. or career problems they've faced, earnest hemming way seay everybody is broken but some people are stronger in the broken places. that's the hardststest thing i faced in my career because i value the other authors and my reputation. >> do you get much static about it anymore? >> hardly ever. this is the first time i'm asked about it on this whole tour now. this is a good thing. i don't mind talking about it. i know i made my piece with it. i know i'm fine with it. >> let me read to you from page 417 in your book.
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it seems that no much has changed in 100 years. lincoln steffens, one of your muckrakers called on the white house saying the issue could be lanced if he were to be return all corporate contributions and look instead to small donations from the general public to fund his campaign. and the public of small contributors could make the millions feel like it was their government as it is. and then you and your administration are beholden to the many, not to the few. a little bit more here. steffen would herald a new era in election politics. if we must have campaign contributions, this is the way to raise them. he concluded if you were to start this method now, you really would begin a tremendous reform and that was in 19 -- whatever -- 1900 or 1908. >> 1904 -- >> what did fdr -- tr say -- >> at that time, i mean i think he understood what steffens was saying and would have gladly
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done that. but he never felt by accepting campaign contributions then, that he was beholden to anyone. he said i could take them, but i'm beholden. but he had a law, taft, not far after that, that he had contributions to contribute money in campaigns. that's where we've come. i still think right now if what we think about the future, nothing is more important than a constitutional amendment to figure out what to do about campaign finance. we can't have the figures raising money. we can't have the special interests raising that power they have. you think about why it's no fun to be a public leader anymore. no one likes to raise money all the time. that's what they're doing all the time. i don't know if we can get public financing. the finance laws haven't worked. it's the poison in the system, i'm convinced. >> when ida tarbell wrote about john j. rockefeller, how many --
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words she write about them? how many articles did she write about them. over what period of time? >> a series of articles in two years. so there was probably 12 and then she wrote some about his character. so it went on for 2 1/2 years. and it became a running story. and then was collected into the articles to be collected to the book together. so it had the double whammy when it came out. so it was a large part of her riding life. she later took on tariff reform. that was a big one. that was the big one she talked about. >> rockefeller didn't talk to her. she talked to a top executive. what was that about? >> mark twain somehow got involve in this. and he was a friend with the other guy who was in standard oil. they persuaded him that he had confidence in himself, this guy in standard oil that he could tell ida the good things about standard oil. she ended up liking him very
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much. but they meet serendipitously -- >> oh, that's not the word. they met secretly. she would come in one door, they would come out another. she would tell them what he was finding. she would listen to him. at a certain point after the article started coming out, they broke apart. wasn't because she betrayed him in any way. they realized they couldn't keep talking to her. >> what impact did she have. >> her materials, the justice department lawyers said it was used as part of the briefs when they did the antitrust lawsuit. j.d. rockefeller said it didn't matter, the stock would go up. they became amoco and mobile and all of these different parts, he still had the power. but it definitely diminished his reputation until her articles, he had been this extraordinary
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benevolent figure. he went into more philanthropy. it impacted the way people viewed the monopolies. they said they're good things, they're big, they made america powerful. then you felt the underbelly. they hurt other people. illegal acts have been used. people look at him as well as standard oil. >> this is book number six. what is book number seven going to be? >> i lived with all of my guys now for my whole life. that means lyndon johnson and f.d.r. and eleanor and lincoln and teddy and taft. i think i'm going to write about leadership by telling stories a about it from just the people i've lived with. there are universal traits they all share that you can see when you study them, universal weaknesses that some of them have. and so if i can just live with them again without having to do ten years of research, but think about this, what made them leaders, and use the stories that i have to illustrate it, hopefully that might just take a couple of years.
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>> 930 pages. >> only 700 in writing. the rest is the index and the notes. >> yeah. a period when we have this short period of attention span, why are people going to read that much? >> people like to relax and replenish their energies and take a long book with them somewhere. that still happens even in this distracted age. i think if it's fatter, you only have to take one book, don't have to take two. who know s? >> this book is called "the bully pulpit." theodore roosevelt, william howard taft, and the golden age of journalism. thank you so much. >> thank you so much.
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was not in session this week. prime minister's questions will not be shown tonight. instead we bring you david cameron speaking at the lord mayor's banquet in london. he talked about the global economy and british trade relations with other countries. this is 20 minutes.
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>> silence for the prime minister. [laughter] [applause] my lord mayor, my late lord mayor, your grace, my lord chancellor, your excellencies, my lords, aldermen, sheriffs, chief commoner, ladies and gentlemen. let me start by thanking lord mayor number 685 for a year of great service - to this city and to our country.


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