Malkin Lecture: The Presidents Versus the Press

Seldom has our free press faced so great a threat as we see today, and yet, the tension between presidents and journalists is as old as the republic itself. Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama all found ways to address the public directly, sidestepping traditional media channels. Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson were all fixated on how they were represented by the press. FDR, JFK, and Clinton all found themselves with reasons to hope their personal lives would remain out-of-bounds. Nixon added journalists to his enemies lists and LBJ captured and threatened writers, editors, publishers, and broadcasters. The current relationship between the White House and the Press may be breaking the mold in many ways, but it is not without historical precedent. Join acclaimed scholar and Lincoln Prize winner Harold Holzer as he chronicles the eternal battle between the core institutions that define the republic, revealing that the essence of this confrontation is built into the fabric of the nation.

Harold Holzer is the recipient of the 2015 Gilder-Lehrman Lincoln Prize. One of the country’s leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era, Holzer was appointed chairman of the US Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission by President Bill Clinton and awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush. He currently serves as Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, City University of New York.

Image: White House correspondents and photographers during the Wilson Administration (Library of Congress)

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