As a publicity stunt in the 1888 presidential campaign, supporters of Benjamin Harrison rolled a huge ball covered with campaign slogans halfway across the country.
Inscribed on the ball was:
“Old Allegany in 1840 started the ball for Harrison; In ’88 as they did then, We roll it on for Gallant Ben. Roll along, Roll away, Keep the ball in motion; The spirit of our men is up from Rocky Hills to Ocean.”
The ball was a replica of one built for Harrison’s grandfather, William Henry Harrison, for his 1840 presidential campaign. The gimmick gave rise to the phrase, “Keep the ball rolling.” (Library of Congress Blog)
Nov. 6, 1972: President Nixon on television on the eve of the presidential election. Unable to photograph Nixon in person, the enterprising Times photographer shot TV screens instead. Photo: Tyrone Dukes/The New York Times
There’s more campaign news and commentary out there than ever before, but more and more citizens are tucking themselves inside information silos where they see mainly what they already agree with.
The result, according to voters, campaign strategists and a raft of studiesthat track users’ news choices, is an electorate in which conservatives and liberals often have not only their own opinions but also their own sets of facts, making it harder than ever to approach common ground….
Rural South Carolina resident DianneBelsom is 46 and home-schools her 14-year-old daughter, Desiree. She has no qualms about steering her child toward sources that confirm the family’s view of what America is and should be.
“I know that people tend to read the things they already agree with,” she says. “I’m not going to known liberal Web sites. But even if I wanted to look beyond what shows up on my Facebook page, I wouldn’t get to see that, because the way Facebook and Google work, they filter information according to where you’ve been before, so you just get more of that.” (WaPo)
On August 9, 1974, facing impeachment for his role in the Watergate affair, President Nixon resigned from office, and Gerald R. Ford succeeded him as President. A month later, on September 8, Ford stunned the nation by announcing that he was granting Nixon “a full, free, and absolute pardon” for all crimes committed during Nixon’s time in office. The decision to pardon Nixon was one of the most controversial decisions ever made by a President.
A few days afterwards, a one-line letter arrived for Ford. “Dear President Ford,” it said, “I think you are half Right and half wrong.”
The writer, one Anthony Ferreira, did not state his age, but his brevity, handwriting, and use of wide-ruled paper suggest that he was quite young. While his figures weren’t precise—fifty-nine percent of the population actually opposed Ford’s decision—this child managed to encapsulate, in a single sentence, the country’s deep division over the pardon. (National Archives)
On Sept. 23, 1944, during a speech to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a recent political attack against his dog, Fala. He defended his dog’s honor by saying:
“These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family doesn’t resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I had left him behind on the Aleutian Islands and had sent a destroyer back to find him — at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars — his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself — such as that old, worm-eaten chestnut that I have represented myself as indispensable. But I think I have a right to resent, to object to libelous statements about my dog.” (PBS)
For most of the 1980s and 1990s Hal Bruno made sure that ABC news anchors had the information they needed to cover national elections, debates, and campaigns. Bruno and his staff were the “eyes and ears of Peter [Jennings] and [Ted] Koppel.” On television himself, hosting the weekly Hal Bruno’s Washington, he was also the moderator of the 1992 Vice Presidential debate between Senator Al Gore, Vice President Dan Quayle, and Admiral James Stockdale, running mate of Ross Perot. (The debate was well-known for Adm. Stockdale’s “opening statement”: “Who am I? Why am I here?” To be fair it was a rhetorical device but his delivery made it seem like a cry for help.)
A native of Chicago, Bruno attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he wrote for the student newspaper The Daily Illini. And they had once heck of staff: legendary movie critic Gene Shalit was editor-in-chief, political analyst Robert Novak covered sports, cartoons were sometimes drawn by Shel Silverstein, and they had two future Pulitzer Prize winners in the room, too, Hugh Hough and Bud Kamin. He ended up at the Chicago American and then was hired by Newsweek where he covered his first campaign: Kennedy-Nixon. In 1978 he headed to ABC where he spent the next 21 years working the political desk.
Outside of politics, Bruno’s strongest attachment was to firefighters. Since his childhood riding on the back of firetrucks in Chicago (no mention of whether this was done with permission, but it was Chicago in the 1930s, so it could go either way), Bruno had a fascination with the first responders. He served as a volunteer firefighter where he was for nearly sixty years, retiring in 2008 at the age of 80.
Bruno’s vocation and avocation collided on September 11, 2001 when he responded to the Pentagon fire and called in some of the first reporting of the tragedy.
In one the great coincidences that you find when dealing frequently with death, Hal Bruno died on election day, November 8, 2001 at the age of 83.
Amid the bitter budget battles in Washington, let’s not forget this NPR gem from 2002:
Reaction today was swift and vocal to a Bush administration proposal to extend universal health care to pets. Under the measure, veterinary care coverage would be fully subsidized by tax dollars.
HHS spokesman Roland Dalet says the measure is designed to assist all animals, large and small. “Your dog, your cat, your iguana, your great komodo dragon,” he says. “Who can quantify your feelings for that animal, and what that animal gives back to you?”
Lobbying efforts could keep lawmakers swamped — possibly paralyzing government for weeks and months — as pet owners, animal lovers and the four-legged and winged constituents themselves descend on Congress.
On August 12, 1961, immediately before the construction of the Berlin Wall this couple makes the decision to pass their son over barbed wire to west Berlin.
The original caption:
A German fate at the fence of barbed wire!
It may be that a couple from Berlin will never see each other again because it became separated by the drawing of the line across Berlin. On August 12, one day before Ulbricht had ordered to surround West Berlin with barbed wire, a man was flying into West Berlin. His wife should follow him a few days later as the little son was still in a holiday-camp. In the meantime the nearly impenetrable “iron curtain” was drawn around West Berlin. The couple met at the fence of barbed wire. The “Vopo” guard was indulgent and allowed the meeting. The couple discussed their situation and they decided that the little son shall grow up in freedom. At a moment when the “Vopo” did not watch them the mother handed the child over the barbed wire.
During the early hours of June 17, 1972, Frank Wills was the security guard on duty at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. This log shows that at 1:47 a.m. he called the police, who arrested five burglars inside the Democratic National Committee Headquarters. Investigation into the break-in exposed a trail of abuses that led to the highest levels of the Nixon administration and ultimately to the President himself. President Nixon resigned from office under threat of impeachment on August 9, 1974.