The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Volume 50
The Complete Press Conferences, 1913-1919
Edited by Arthur S. Link
Although previous Presidents had maintained contact with reporters, Woodrow Wilson was the first to conduct regular press conferences. This volume contains the transcripts of all of these sessions, which reveal the range of Wilson's day-to-day concerns and his stance in what might be termed intellectual combat. The bulk of the material comes from approximately the first two and a half years of his presidency. We see Wilson jousting and sparring with reporters, scolding them, joking with them, "grazing the truth" in order not to disclose secrets of state, and, more often, engaging in frank and open dialogue.
Wilson began a new era in presidential press relations on March 15, 1913, when his Secretary, Joseph P. Tumulty, ushered some 100 correspondents into the President's office. The idea for regular meetings had been Tumulty's, rather than Wilson's, but the President quickly grasped their potential for positive public relations and persisted in them through initial problems in their regulation. Robert C. Hilderbrand includes annotations that clarify the transcripts and add to our knowledge of the Wilson presidency.