The Last Boys on the Bus

Upon the completion of both The Last Campaign and The Boys on the Bus, I have been prompted to answer a couple of questions.

What are the differences between the 1948 and 1972 campaigns?
What is different about the way the press approach the campaign?
What is different about the way the candidates approach the campaign?

To me, the 1948 campaign represented a more pure time in politics. Candidates approached the campaign with more passion. Speeches and debates were indicative of the candidate’s true feelings on issues. Each candidate was very accessible and embraced/ engaged the press. Some candidates even had personal relationships with the various reporters.

As far as the press’ approach, it was very personal. Reporters often gathered in the lobby of the hotels where the candidates were staying. Furthermore, although radio can be a very instantaneous medium, newspaper, on the other hand, is not. Newspapers also reported erroneous information about Dewey defeating Truman, which was later proved wrong.

The emergence of television would prove to dramatically impact the political campaign. Gone were the days of old, where candidates had true passionate debates and speeches, and where voters truly had a choice of candidates that represented extremist views. The 1948 campaign marked the end of an era of true politics.

The 1972 campaign began yet another era in politics. I like to call this the “Exploitive Era.” Candidates and the press alike adopted the motto “What can this do for me?” Although candidates seemingly embraced the press by providing him or her with press kits and wake up calls, in the back their minds each candidate pondered how this relationship could benefit them in the end. It was no longer about having true friendships with people who happened to be reporters; it was about forging friendships with people BECAUSE they were reporters.

The press also adopted this exploitive strategy as well. “Pack journalists” were known for the way that they packed on the buses and followed a particular candidate from city to city and state to state. Journalists lucky enough to follow behind a front leader benefited greatly from the relationship and had their stories praised and often appear on the front page of the paper. Those journalists who happened to be obligated to follow a “lightweight” enjoyed poking fun at the candidate’s discrepancies and inconsistencies.

Ultimately, the emergence of new technology resulted in varied news sources and beginning of subjective journalism. Voters benefited from these breakthroughs and began to draw their own conclusions about a candidate.

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