tv Q A CSPAN November 18, 2013 6:00am-7:01am EST
other end keeping track. on theor lori andrews communicators monday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. up next on c-span, q&a, with historian and author doris kearns goodwin talking about her latest book "the bully pulpit." then "washington journal." 1:00 p.m. eastern, live coverage of the house as members return for general speeches. ♪ >> this week on "q&a," a letter prize-winning author and historian doris kearns goodwin discusses her latest historical narrative titled "the bully pulpit." >> doris kearns goodwin, your new book, "the bully pulpit: theodore roosevelt, william howard taft and the golden age of journalism," if you flip it
over, there is a whole other story on the back. i want to ask you to start off, who is this man? >> sam mcclure, founder of "mcclure's" magazine. he was orphaned by his father. his mother immigrated to america, lived in incredible poverty but dreamed of becoming a journalist. he has a dream when he is a young man of creating a magazine. it will be a cheap magazine, not the harpers, but 10 cent people can read it. he will hire staff, pay them for years to do research so that they can come up with real pieces of fact and stories that will persuade the country that we have to do something about the problems of the industrial age. >> what year? >> he starts in the 1890's -- 1893.
the magazine flounders until it really grows. >> when did you decide that you were going to feature these so- called muckrakers? >> i am not sure i can fully remember what happened except that i started with teddy roosevelt. so much had been written about teddy that i needed another story. i got into taft knowing they had been friends, they have broken apart in 1912. when i figured out the difference between the two and their leadership, it was teddy's public leadership and taft's failure as a public leader. i started reading about the progressive era and the press. these guys were at the center of it. even the best historians writing secondarily will say these people were the vanguard of the progressive movement. i know about ida tarbell before but i didn't know the others. i didn't know mcclure. he came into my life. >> why did sam mcclure want to have a magazine? what drove him?
>> i think the reason he wanted a magazine was he wanted to speak to middle-class ordinary people about the issues of the day. newspapers would be too truncated. the story might be there and make a splash but the next 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 at the center of things. he was like teddy roosevelt in a way. >> when he started the magazine and hired the four people you talk about, how old were all these people? >> they were in their 30's. that is the amazing thing. sam mcclure and ida are a little older than the other ones. ida tarbell becomes the first woman he hires. in some way, she was always a little in love with him and maybe he in love with her. the story of when he finds her,
he has read an article that she has written, she went on her own to paris after college. she prays that she never wants to get married because she has ambition to be something. she is starving in paris, just writing little articles. suddenly, he bounds up 80 steps says, i have to see you. we have 10 minutes. he tells her about this dream of the new magazine. she is the first one that he brings on board. >> where was she from and how did she get into writing? >> she had grown up in pennsylvania. her father had originally been a teacher. he got involved when the oil was discovered as an independent oil producer. he was making more money than he ever dreamed. suddenly, rockefeller comes down to standard oil, destroys her father's business. her mother who had wanted to be a teacher and had been one had to stop to take care of the family. that is why ida dreamed she would be something other than
getting married. she goes to college, works on a local magazine for six years, still vowing never can get married and she dreams of writing a biography of the french revolution. she tells her boss she is leaving and he mainly says to her, how are you going to support yourself? she says, writing of course. he said, you are not a writer. you will starve. she remembered that the rest of her life. she is writing newspaper articles and she does still work on her biography. he brings her back and she becomes really the linchpin of that organization. they would fight. she could keep everybody together. >> another person on the back of this book, another muckraker -- who invented the name muckraker? >> teddy roosevelt did. he gave a speech, even though he was so dependent on these people, so friendly with them, after a while their magazines are copied by a lot of other people.
it became sensational. he got mad at that whole idea that they only looked down at the ground rather than looking up at the sky. he labeled them muckrakers. my guys were very upset by that at first. later, they wore it as a badge of honor. >> do we have somebody that could be called a muckraker today? >> i don't know. some people have said to me, do you think that the wikileaks thing or snowden are muckrakers? it is really different. these people wrote long pieces, incredibly researched, factually accurate -- they weren't just releasing information, they were creating it. they were like many historians. the problem is, who would support that today? i know we have pro-publica and i value what they are doing, but mcclure has the money to give them a salary for two years and give them expenses. he went bankrupt because he gave
so much money to his reporters. >> for instance, michael hastings come a young man in his 30's who died not too long ago, did a big piece on the crystal for rolling stone. is that a muckraker? >> it was sort of a revelatory piece. it was factually accurate. it did have an impact. i suppose in some way, that was. the difference with that and this, is that what they did was, when they did their articles on standard oil or the railroad abuses or the meatpacking plants, it meant that they mobilized public opinion. public sentiment demanded that a reluctant congress do something. that is the triangle that is different.
>> ray stannard baker, who is he? >> he grew up with a father who was in business but who loved telling stories. from the time he was a little kid, listening to stories are really better to much to him. he goes to michigan state but he goes -- takes the course, one of the first courses in journalism called rapid writing. he became enamored with the idea of journalism. he got interested in the pullman strike, a lot of the violent stuff that was going on. it was a really turbulent time. some of his articles were attracted to mcclure. mcclure gets him to come from there to "mcclure's" magazine. it wasn't just that they had mcclure and the magazine, they became family. they would meet for lunch everyday. they would share dinner together and criticize one another's
work. they made each other better. years later, baker said he looked back on that is the best time of his life. he wrote about railroads and documented a two-year project. teddy roosevelt reads the proofs of his articles ahead of time, sends ray baker his message on the railroads and yet, they retain their integrity. baker eventually looks back on the time and says, nothing would ever surpass it. railroad regulation gets passed. >> explain that again. roosevelt would read these articles before the republished? >> they would send the proofs of the articles to them. he asked them. he knew for example, when ray baker started on the railroads, roosevelt knew his next big task was to get a bill to regulate the railroads. knowing he was doing this, he said, can i see your articles so i can be educated by them? he would have him to lunch, they would talk about them. when he was deciding what the regulation should look like, he
sends his message to baker, what do you think of this? baker disagreed entirely. he said it is not strong enough. roosevelt fought him back and said, you are wrong. the message comes and he puts baker's idea and it. baker was stunned. >> what would have been the american population back in the early 1900's? >> i should know, but i don't know. >> i can't remember -- it is around 100 million. >> i am thinking 100 or less. >> the reason i ask is there is no radio, no television, no wire service. there is a telegraph, i guess. what was the size of the circulation of "mcclure's" magazine? >> for them, it reached 400,000 which is really big for that magazine. it is not just 400,000. people share it.
they go from one home to another. newspaper article columns are written about it, editorials are written about it. it sparked a national conversation. they felt that in villages all across the country, people were talking about the subject. it is not today's attention span. when these articles on standard oil come out that becomes the topic across the country. railroads become the topic. lincoln steffens later writes about the corruption of the city. it was an even smaller world. that would be like millions in circulation today. >> another person, another muckraker is lincoln steffens. >> he is a confident character. he and roosevelt fought a lot more than the others did. he was as cocky as roosevelt was. he meets roosevelt first. he comes from a wealthy background and travels all over europe. his father tells him, it is time for you to get a job. he comes home and gets a job on "the new york evening post."
when teddy roosevelt becomes police commissioner, he seeks him out. the reporters were like his intelligence network. they become friends. it is lincoln steffens and jacob rees wrote about poverty. they convinced him to take nightly rambles between 12:00 and 4:00 a.m. to see if the police are doing their job. he disguised himself in a floppy hat and coat. if the police were not doing their job, he would call them to the office the next day. later, cartoons appeared. big spectacles and teeth being more frightening to police than anything else. eventually, he gets called to "mcclure's." at first, he is reluctant because he loves being the big guy in new york. he eventually joined him. he said it was like getting out of bed and diving into a lake. it was so electrifying.
originally, he is a manager at mcclure's. mcclure says, get into the cities. find out the corruption. this is the time of tammany hall, the political bosses. they had ties to the criminal world below, the business community above. steffens had an ability to interview people and get them to talk. even the bosses for the bad guys would talk to him and tell them what they were doing proudly. he exposes -- some of these guys go to jail. some lose their office. reformers come in in the city. that had a huge impact. >> are "mcclure's" magazines available to look at? >> yes. you have to find them and they are not easy to find. i have got a couple of them, real original ones. i have one from 1903. they are beautiful.
they have drawings. photo engraving came in so that was cheaper than the original -- that is what made it possible. the print is really nice. they have poetry in them as well as these articles. there is usually one big article about some important issue that runs as a series over a period of year or two years. sometimes they are together. >> does the library of congress have them all? >> yes. i read all their articles in real form. you can have them copied. >> lincoln steffens, one of the famous things he had to say is, he goes to russia and says, i have seen the future. >> right. lincoln steffens later became more radical. even in 1908 he was tending toward socialism. he and roosevelt would fight about that. roosevelt would tell him, you don't understand. this is democracy.
eventually, he does go to russia and thinks he has seen the future. he later recants somewhat on that. he was always wilder than the others were. >> now we have ray baker, lincoln steffens and ida tarbell. what was their individual relationships with president roosevelt and presidents past? >> first with roosevelt, ida tarbell had less of a personal relationship with him than the others. he respected her enormously and they met a number of times. she kept herself more in new york. she didn't go to washington as much as the others. ray baker probably saw him dozens of times in his life. he had lunch with him, dinner with him, would stay over and see him the next day. lincoln steffens had this longtime relationship from his days as police commissioner. at one point, he decided that he wanted to study the corruption of the federal government. roosevelt gives him a little piece of paper saying, you can
do whatever you want. i want you to find it. i will take care of it. he gives to mr. lincoln steffens i want everybody who sees this letter to tell him everything you know. he actually couldn't get them to talk as much as he hoped they would. he wrote corruption the state governments and city governments. >> the last person on the back of your book is william allen white. >> that is what is amazing. here is a country editor in kansas, almost never left home. he loved him. he was one of the most quoted journalists of his time. he wrote lots of short stories, lots of fiction, lots of books. he was the one who was probably closest to theodore roosevelt. they met when william allen white was a young man. he was a conservative. his father was a doctor in kansas. the wealthiest guy in town. he hated the populace and wrote against the populace.
then, he meets teddy. teddy has already begun to know that something has to be done about the problems of the poor. he says the problem of the aged distribution, not production. he changed william allen white who became almost an accolade for teddy. even then, he said they walked around washington and talk. he sounded the trumpet of the new age that was to come. he becomes a progressive, a real progressive. he is active in party politics. even they can criticize each other. they represent letters to each other and at one point, he would criticize teddy's writing. he says, something happened to your writing. it is too long. the reader is getting fatigued. one sentence had 20 lines. roosevelt writes back, of course, you're right. roosevelt was such a master of communicating that that was unusual. he talked in simple language.
when roosevelt would go west on his train tours, white would often be there and introduce him to a lot of the people. the west was more progressive than the east. he introduced him to a lot of his friends and really helped roosevelt be known in the west. >> did mcclure ever publish them? >> oh, yes. he wrote tons of articles. >> he was based in kansas. >> but he would write articles every couple months. mcclure loaned him money for his house. they were really like a family. >> did they all -- if he was in kansas, he didn't have the relationship like the other three did. >> he would come to new york and meet with them. they all stayed at his house in emporia, kansas where they travel together. they went on vacation together to the grand canyon, ida and mcclure -- not mcclure, ida and white. they had lots of relationships. he was more distant because he was in kansas and he never
wanted to leave. ida said that is what she loved about him. he wasn't lured by the glamour of the big city. he wanted to stay in this little town. >> how apocryphal is it that theodore roosevelt actually read a book a day? >> i think it is not apocryphal. he would read from the moment he awakened -- at any moment, if he had time while he was getting dressed or waiting for edith to get dressed. at breakfast, he would be reading. in between appointments in the white house, he would be reading. he said that books were essential to a leader because books were about human nature. what a leader needs to know more than anything is the soul of human nature. books, he said, are companions that are never lost. whether it is a book a day or not, he was always reading. even when he is in the middle of a coal strike, the most formidable deadlock in the country's history, he writes to
the library of congress and says, i need some books on the early mediterranean. he writes back later and says, thank god for you. i read those. i had nothing to do with what i was doing and for that reason, they were great. he had been a little kid who had asthma, who was isolated as a child from active activity until he made his body. they became a real source of solace for him. i don't know if it is a book a day, but it is close to that. certainly an equivalent of a book a day. if he read an article by somebody he liked, he would invite them to the white house the next day for lunch. >> "mcclure's" magazine started in the 1890's, how long did it last? >> it goes in form with all these guys until 1906. it lasts after that but they leave him. mcclure was a genius. he was also a manic depressive.
in his states, he did things that they couldn't deal with. he was trying to create yet another magazine in 1906, put all the money into this newer magazine. they thought everything would be diminished. he also 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. he wrote letters to this woman. they love his wife, too. if it ever became public, they could be responsible for losing some of their credibility. they all broke from him, all these guys, and john phillips who was the managing editor. they formed their own magazine, "the american magazine." that lasted until about 1913. "mcclure's" lasted a little bit longer. it is really 1912, 1913. they both get bought up by a larger business firm.
they don't want these exposure articles. they felt that they didn't have the freedom they once had. >> t.r. was president what years? >> 1901 to 1908. >> william howard taft was president for what years? >> 1908 to 1912. >> in your book, the epilogue, you tell the story -- the blackstone hotel in chicago, set that up. >> because they were such close friends, before teddy and picks tasked to be his successor, teddy has decided he shouldn't run again for a third term. he announces that when he wins the second time. he later could kill himself for having done that because he really wanted to be president again. he loved being president. he picks taft as his successor, runs his campaign, gives him all
sorts of advice. taft finally wins and he is radiant about taft's victory. his progressive friends tell him, he hasn't been as progressive as you thought he would be. he has become part of the old guard. it is really true, he just failed to deal with some of the issues. he compromised them too much and the progressives got angry with him. teddy decides eventually to run against him in 1912. it is heartbreaking for taft. this is a friendship that is broken. teddy feels betrayed by him. it is really ugly. teddy called him a guinea pig, he calls him a puzzle-wit, a fathead. the die is cast when teddy forms a third-party. together, they had 50% of the vote.
woodrow wilson wins. it leaves a terrible strain on this friendship. for several years afterward, they tried to bring teddy and staff together. it is almost like an armed neutrality. nothing works until blackstone hotel in 1918. teddy roosevelt is going to die not long thereafter. taft comes to the blackstone hotel in chicago. he is going up in the elevator and the elevator operator says, roosevelt is in the dining room sitting alone at a corner table. taft says, take me downstairs again. he goes downstairs. there is 100 diners in the room and thank god there is a reporter there as well. he goes over to roosevelt, says i am so glad to see you. roosevelt embraces him. they sit down together and the entire restaurant claps. there is an eruption of applause. teddy says, thank god we got together. not too many months later, teddy dies.
taft goes to the private funeral and his crying more than anyone there. he says to teddy's sister, i would have more in all my life if we hadn't become friends in the end. i was looking for that ending. i didn't know i was going to find it. the fact that there was a reporter there was such incredible luck. >> theodore roosevelt when he died was only 60. william howard taft died when he was 72. things happened after roosevelt died. before you tell me what it was, how many times when he was president did he offer him a seat on the supreme court? >> three times. it was taft's dream. his father was a judge. he was a judge. he was happy as a judge. he should never have gotten into politics. he loved the deliberations. he loved the quietness of it. he didn't like the press.
you didn't have to explain decisions if you are in the court. teddy offers it to him twice when he is in the philippines. he can't leave the job. they love him over there. he did a good job. he is almost tempted to do it but he says, my duty is to stay here. he comes back at secretary of war and teddy convinces him to lead the philippines. he becomes the most important person in teddy's cabinet. in 1906, he offers it to him again. he knows the court is going to be making big decisions about the legislation that is being passed by the roosevelt administration. taft really attempted that time that even then, he is being talked about as a potential presidential candidate. even then, teddy had said, you have to think about whether you want this path or you have a good likelihood of being president. his brothers, his wife, people close to him really want him to be in the presidential track. almost against his will, he decides to not take the supreme court decision.
he goes for the possible presidency. it is so sad to think what could have happened if he had done it then. he would have had the rest of his life on the court. instead, finally in 1921 after teddy is dead, warren harding comes in and appoints him chief justice of the supreme court. he said it is the happiest day of his life. he has almost a decade on the supreme court. he could have had three decades. >> that blackstone hotel meeting in chicago came between 1912 and 1918. what were the two of them doing after their presidencies? >> taft became the professor at yale of constitutional law. he was simply teaching there. they lived in new haven until the time when he becomes the supreme court justice. he had some boards that he was on during world war i.
teddy went back to sagamore hill and he did not get involved in the 1916 race. there were some progressives hoping he would run again. as a result, the progressive party began to dwindle out. he wrote, he wrote his books. he took that trip on the river of doubt which is probably what lesson is like. when world war i came, he became a real opponent of woodrow wilson. feeling like we weren't prepared enough for the war, that he wasn't doing it fast enough, he wrote articles about it. once we finally got in the war, all he wanted was to command a battalion overseas. he asked wilson personally if he could take charge of some soldiers overseas. wilson turned him down. that was a real sadness. he felt he deserved to be in the war. it was a part of teddy from the time he was a child when he became this strong person and he
fought down all sorts of -- courage became the most important quality for him. he felt he would like to die on the battlefield. kind of a romantic, crazy image but he wasn't allowed to go. i think that contributed to the depression near the end of his life. especially when his youngest son did die overseas. >> would you agree that historians are in love with the odor was about? >> there is something that is captivating about his personality. he understood how to deal with the people. when he communicates them in his shorthand language, speak softly and carry a big stick, he gave maxwell house the slogan "good to the last drop," he set about mckinley, he has the backbone of the chocolate éclair. how can you not like a guy that is so colorful with language? there are problems with them. i find his attitude toward war very unpleasant. the idea that the victories of
war are greater than the victories of peace seems to me crazy. that comes from that childhood and that sense of courage. you see the other side of it. in 1912, he is campaigning, he is about to go into the place where he is giving a speech. he gets shot right in the chest. this is the courage part of teddy. he is bleeding, the bullet has gone through his chest. he insists on delivering the speech. he speaks for nearly two hours. finally, he lets them taken to the hospital. the bullet had penetrated. the only thing that prevented it from going into his chest, it hit his spectacles and went upwards. he had to be in the hospital for a week afterwards. the courage it took to deliver that speech -- how can you not like a guy like that? >> what is interesting to me, you decided at some point to put t.r. and taft on the cover. when you announced what you were going to do, 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, it was the same with lincoln. as i started reading the books about teddy was about, there been so many wonderful books about him. i didn't feel i could contribute enough to just write another biography. there have been some great studies about the progressive era. it is my favorite airline history. i favorite historians have written about it. i needed a team of rivals. when i started thinking about half, i thought it would give me an insight into teddy, just as lincoln's cabinet gave me an insight into lincoln. he just got bigger and bigger in the story. >> it is hard to understand -- i'm going to read a quote from your book.
you said earlier that he tries taft. why is there so much respect for him? he was going against his own party, his own choice for president. that is a pretty nasty thing for someone to do. >> i think when historians look at his behavior from 1910 on, some of that respect diminishes. i think partly, he just wanted to be president again. if he had waited until 1916, he would have probably been president. it showed that he did get carried away with himself. once he takes on an adversary, the adversary becomes an enemy. this was totally unfair, what you just read. it wasn't true that he had anything to do with his corrupt senator. once he takes on somebody, he has to destroy the person. i don't like that side of him. the sight of him from 1910 on, but on the other hand if you
read the progressive party platform, if you read his speeches, they are so forward- looking. they are really extraordinary. they are harbingers of the new deal. what he is saying i really do believe in. it is pretty two-sided. >> your book, on page 333, i wrote the word doris in the margin. i'm going to read you why i wrote that. the reason i wrote your name in there is, the more i read about her, the more it sounded like you. did you feel that at all? >> that would be an honor to feel connected to ida tarbell. i respected so much the work she did. i think of myself -- i think lots of other people might be more talented than i am. 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 doing primary sources. i love going back to the letters, diaries, the private journal. that is what she did. she didn't want to just write a book on analyticals. she wanted to get stuffed up. i felt connected. she is six feet tall, we don't look alike, she never got married. i do feel a sense that she was ahead of her time. i respect so much that decision she made that she was willing to be lonely in order to have those ambitions met. at the time, she was considered joan of arc. they even had a play on broadway called "the lion and the mouse." the lien was jd rockefeller. the mouse was ida. she somehow made him into a philanthropic good guy. she was an important person at that time. more than that, she has lasted. she also wrote about lincoln. she wrote one of the early interviews with people who knew
lincoln. she said, some of the asked her, why do so many people write about lincoln? she said, because he is so companionable. why did i read about teddy? i wanted to live with him. >> there is another connection. it is a more modern connection for you. even though ida tarbell wasn't close to theodore roosevelt, i went back and found an article written right after the election. you know this article, i am sure. it says here -- even though ms. goodwin had allied openly with obama -- the reason i mention this is, 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 want to show the audience the
names of the historians and ask you how this works and what you learn from it and why you did it. the names are on the screen. what was your role in that and how did you get there? >> the president said he loves history. he would love to meet on a regular basis. once a year it has happened. historians come with the knowledge of their president in their head and give him advice. it is not likely we go in there and give little talks. we sit around the dinner, just us and maybe a couple members of the white house staff, and he talks about whatever is happening that time. he might talk about how people communicated in the past, how people dealt with congress, lbj in the past. they tell stories that might be an e for him. for us to be together is half of the pleasure of it all. to feel that camaraderie with
your fellow historians. in the room it is truman, jackson, eisenhower, reagan, like the presidents have come into the room. >> what were the roles? in this piece, everybody is quoted. >> the rules are -- not about the substance of the meeting. the fact of the meeting was not un-private. it was known. people didn't tell too much of the stuff. they weren't supposed to talk about what was talked about or the whole freedom of it wouldn't be. >> here is a quote from doug brinkley. we pushed teddy roosevelt like crazy on him. did it work? >> he went out to that place where teddy delivered his famous speech and talked about fairness. the idea at that time, in 1910, i think what happens is maybe he
keeps reading anyway. if a certain president becomes interesting, then he might think more about that president. that is a good thing. lincoln would constantly go back to the founding fathers. when fdr was there, he was reading lincoln. teddy was reading lincoln the whole time. i think it is healthy for these presidents. why should they have to become a president without learning from the history of the guys who went there before them? so few of them have sat in that office. it has to be a helpful thing or else our profession doesn't mean anything. >> you have been involved with presidents forever. within a few months, ms. goodwin was helping the president's speechwriters draft and address and billed as the intellectual foundation for his second term. it 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 speechwriters. i thought they were great.
they would talk to me about what he was thinking of talking about. if i had been younger, i think i would have loved to be down there. even being a part of the administration. i couldn't. i was writing my book, living in massachusetts. it was more just a friendship with the speechwriters and a friendship with president obama. >> what should the public know about historians' relationships with presidents? >> i am not sure i feel able to write about a current president. i like the distance. the only one i ever knew that i wrote about was lyndon johnson. it presented all these turbulent problems because i knew the guy. i certainly couldn't have done it until after he died. ever since that, it started everything. i wouldn't be a presidential historian without that wonderful character.
nonetheless, i feel more comfortable writing from the treasures and diaries back 100 years ago. >> david kennedy, a historian from stamford says, it was almost as if he was writing his own history book about himself. >> i think he thinks about that. these presidents inevitably do now. as soon as they get into office, and people are talking about, where is he going to rank? they start thinking that way. he especially has a sense of himself on the outside in. i think that is probably true. >> david kennedy was here before the election. i want to show you something he said and get your take on it. >> i have been very supportive of the barack obama campaign. i think he is a very interesting political figure. not least of all for the quite simple reason that he is black. that is not the only reason i think he is interesting.
i do think that his candidacy should be successful. if he becomes president, it seems to me that will make a powerful statement to ourselves and to the world. >> what do you think of that? >> no matter what else 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. to have it be such a buoyant collection, if only we could go back to those moments of emotion that people felt on all sides that somehow america had come true or to its own premise of self by electing him president. there were people jumping around in the streets, feeling like we had turned a corner. after he becomes president, he is barack obama. he is a democrat and others are republicans. the tea party people are feeling one way or another. that moment is not remembered in a sense. i think david kennedy is right
in predicting that would be a big moment. i still think it is. >> what would you tell the president right now? >> i think i would tell him that even if the bully pulpit is diminished today in its power -- teddy roosevelt defined as the national platform the president has to educate public sentiment and mobilize the public to move the congress in ways it doesn't want to go -- congress is obviously stuck. he can't get them to work. i wish he had done more but i don't think it hurts to have them over and really use the white house as a tool for persuasion. right now, it just seems stuck. the only chance is to mobilize the public to pressure from the outside in. i don't know whether it can be done anymore. when he gave a speech, roosevelt, it would be put in full in the newspaper. it would be the way he wanted it to be reported. when fdr is on the radio, 80% of the people are listening to him. you could walk down the street on a hot chicago night, not miss
a word of what he was saying. even in the early days of television, up to reagan, they gave a speech, three networks reported. now what happens, you want your own cable network and see maybe an excerpt of the speech. pundits are tearing it down before you begin. our attention span is limited. i am not sure that we are focused. new breaking news comes in. i think about the gun control thing. there was a case where as soon as barack obama won the second term, he announced he would put everything he had into getting these background checks. he said that he was going to go to the public. he did go to the public. he had meetings with the people who have been hurt in that terrible incident. still, it didn't get through congress. why, partly because of the special interest. also because our attention goes to something else. i don't know whether we have the sustainability as a public to marshal public sentiment to push into congress that we had during
his time. >> it will never go back to what it was. what does that mean for future presidents? >> they are going to have to figure it out. the only way that you're going to get the will of the people is to educate them, talk simply to them, make them understand what it is you want them to do and have them active. i have got to believe -- i guess the reason i wanted to live in this era, the progressive era, is because it was a time when the public cared about public issues. not just the reporters but you had churches, settlement house workers, the desire for social justice was spread among the public. fdr later said that some generations have a rendezvous with destiny, some generations are meant to have public life at the center of their private life. the new deal was one of those times. progressive era, obviously the civil war. i guess the 60's too. i still think even though it may not look how we are going to come out of this now, another
generation will come. just as mcclure people were hoping at the end, let another group of journalists come that have that desire. so much of journalism is entertainment today. there are really great journalists who may not have the resources to do what my guys were able to do. we come back from the things. i remember fdr's great speech where he warned the country after the battles in the pacific were going badly, there will be valleys before we get through. i trust this country, we will come through this. i still do too. lincoln as a young man was worried that his generation had no challenges to face. the founding fathers had done everything. then comes the civil war. it doesn't look like we can imagine another period where the public is really mobilized. cap congress excited to do what they're doing. somehow, it will happen.
maybe the next generation, not mine. >> did you see in this new york times about john f. kennedy? november 11. i want to read you -- the whole point of this piece is that there is a tremendous change in the attitude historians have about john f. kennedy. high school kids are reading a lot of books that are saying completely different things than when you wrote your book. i will read what adam clymer says here. do you see that? >> yes, i suspect that the reason for that is that at the time when he was killed, there was such a romantic image the cause of the pictures, because of you, because of his
projection of politics as an honorable vocation, getting young people excited. now, the reality of the fact that he was a president for only three years, the reality of what we know was going on in his private life, the fact that he didn't have enough time for the a compliment he might have had my husband who had worked for jfk and bobby kennedy was with bobby and bobby was lamenting. how is history going to remember my brother? dick trying to make him feel better says, julius caesar was only in power for three years. bobby looks at him and says, it helps to have shakespeare write about you. i think he will still be remembered in the popular image. he will be forever young. there was good that he did. the cuban missile crisis and the peace at the end when he made the university speech. that wasn't enough time to make him a historic president the way popular opinion might have him
up there with george washington and lincoln. >> tie this together with what you have done with william howard taft. if you go to arlington national cemetery, lots of people are standing at the eternal flame and the john f. kennedy grave. you walk just a little bit over to the west and there is the monument to william howard taft. you never see anybody there. this man was president for four years. chief justice for nine. what is it about the two? >> clearly, one made its way into history. jfk did. those of us still living today 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 he thought he was, not just a fat guy who happens to lose the election in 1912. he believed in the power of government. he was much like teddy roosevelt
in his early days. if there is any value in writing about a person, my whole hope is you retell their story and another generation will see them as human beings. it may not mean they are going to go trouping to his monument. i really cared about -- when i found out that tons more people were going to his house i can't thought -- maybe that will be the ultimate monument. if i see a group of people at william howard taft's monument. >> on your website, i counted 41 events that you are involved in from the beginning of november until next year. you had 26 events during this book. why are you doing this after all these years? >> i like it. i have been hibernating for the last eight months. the book was so overdue that i couldn't even do television. i couldn't take vacation.
i didn't go to as many red sox games as i normally do. after you have spent so much time writing it, to be able to talk to people about it and meet the people who read the other books that i have written -- there are these people who love history. when you can go somewhere and people tell you, i love history my whole life and i can talk to them about my love of history, you feel like you might have an impact on them. i do enjoy it. i also say, maybe on december 14 when it is over, i will be having a nice glass of wine at home. >> how many books did you sell with the lincoln book? >> i think in the end, it was almost 2.5 million copies. it had three lives. it came out well and did really well. then president obama put hillary into the cabinet and it became a story. the movie "lincoln" came out.
that is like lightning hitting. that is not going to happen again. there are people who are out there who will buy anything about lincoln. 14,000 books are written about him. >> let me ask you about the tough period in your life. 10 years ago when you were accused of plagiarism -- i want to ask you if you and your husband ever sit around and say, i can't believe we got through this so well. if you do, how did you do it? >> i think the most important thing was to understand that what i had done was not fail to credit the authors, but i knew i hadn't been careful enough in where the quote marks were inside the book. the hardest thing -- i didn't feel like that was what had happened to me. i love giving credit. i leave huge notes in these books. i remember saying, is this going to be ok? i acknowledged the error at the time.
i wrote about how it happened. it did turn out to be ok. you just make sure that you learn from that. all the attention i put into research and making sure that my primary sources are right, i now make sure that every single quote is right. so i got through it. i think withstanding adversity is a quality that all my guys have always had to do. fdr having to get through polio, lincoln's whole life, teddy roosevelt losing his wife and mother on the same day, people having career problems that they faced -- you get through it. ernest hemingway says, everyone is broken by life but some people are stronger in the broken places. i would like to believe that was the hardest thing i have faced in my career. i value so much the crediting of other authors. i value my reputation. >> do you ever get much static about it anymore? >> hardly ever. this is the first time i have been asked about it on this whole tour. it is a good thing.
that was in 19 whatever, 1900 or 1901. >> 1904. >> what did he say back then? >> at that time, i think he understood what steffens was saying but he never felt that by accepting campaign contributions that he was beholden to anybody. he just said, i can take them. on the other hand, he had a law passed. it forbade corporations from contributing money to campaigns. that is what was overturned. that is where we have come. i still think right now, if we think about what we need to do for the future, nothing is more important than a constitutional amendment to figure out what to do about campaign finance. we cannot have these public figures bending so much time raising money. we cannot have the special interest having that immense power they have. nobody likes to raise money all the time. that is what they are doing. i don't know whether we can get public financing -- all these
finance laws haven't worked. we have got to do something. that is the poison in the system. >> when ida tarbell wrote about john rockefeller, how many either words did she write about him, how many articles did she write about him and over what period of time? >> she wrote a series of articles over two years. she wrote some about his character. it probably went on for two and a half years. it became a running story. eventually, it was collected into a book. it had that double whammy when it came out. it was a large part of her writing life. she later took on tariff reform. those were the two big ones. >> what was the story about her talking -- rockefeller didn't talk to her but she talked to a top executive. what was that about? >> mark twain somehow got involved in this thing.
he was a friend with this other guy in standard oil. they somehow persuaded him that it would be good. he had confidence in himself that he could tell ida the good things about standard oil. she ended up liking him very much. they had to meet -- what is the word? they met secretly. let's say they met secretly. she would come in one door, they would go out another. she would tell them what she was finding. he was then rebutted. after the articles started coming out, they broke apart. it wasn't because she had to trade him, but i think he realized he couldn't keep talking to her. >> what impact did she have on the rockefeller standard oil operation? >> i think eventually her material -- even the justice department and lawyers said -- were used as part of the brief. jd rockefeller would say, the stock would still go up. even though they became amoco
and mobil and all these parts, he still had the power. it definitely diminished his reputation. until her articles, he had been this benevolent figure. he did more philanthropy and the rockefeller name is still passed down over time. it did have an effect on the way people view these monopolies. they thought these were good things, they were big and made america powerful. suddenly they saw the underbelly of them. they had really hurt people in what they did. people looked askance at him as well as at standard oil. >> this is book number six. what is book number seven going to be? >> i have lived with all my guys now for my whole life. that means lyndon johnson and fdr and eleanor and lincoln and teddy and staff. i think i'm going to write about leadership, about telling stories. they are a universal trait that they all share. universal weaknesses that some
of them have. if i can just live with them again without having to do 10 years of research, but think about what made them leaders and use the stories i have two illustrated, hopefully that might just take a couple years instead of 10. >> 930 pages. >> it is only 700 in writing. the rest is the index and notes. >> do you think somebody is going to read 930 pages? >> i think people sometimes like to relax and replenish their energies and take a long book with them somewhere. somehow, that still happens even in this distracted age. i would like to think that maybe if it is fatter, it looks like it is more worthwhile. you don't have to take two. who knows? >> our guest has been doris kearns goodwin and this book is called "the bully pulpit: theodore roosevelt, william howard taft, and the golden age of journalism." thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you so much.
>> for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at q and a.org. q and a programs are also available as c-span podcasts. >> in a few moments, "washington journal" is live with your phone calls and the news. >> now, look at what is ahead on "washington journal" this morning. bloomberg news and kyle cheney of political about the latest on the health-care law and ongoing improvements being made to the health care.gov website.
later, washington post reporter david baron hold discusses inaccuracies in records kept by the social security administration. resulting in federal aid being sent to individuals who are deceased. >> the u.s. house and senate return to work today, one busy week of work before the thanksgiving break and it is energy that is topping the agenda this week. over on the senate side defense programs. also they continue to struggle with the issue of judicial denomination. they have a vote later this evening. of course health care is front and center both on the hill and over at the white house. lots more in the papers today. one headline says,
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