Of course, the power of the press works in both directions--presidents use it as an instrument of persuasion, while the public uses it to satisfy curiosity. As media coverage of the White House surged, so did the public's interest in the private lives of the presidents and their families. "First Ladies have helped us understand how we define presidents and their wives as families," says Gould (see photos at right). "The agenda for the press has expanded--it's not just the president as a kind of robotic policymaker, but as a real live, breathing human being who has a wife, family and problems."
From First Ladies to war meetings, anything and everything having to do with the Oval Office has been scrutinized in the media. The Center has been documenting the relationship in its News Media History Archive and American Political History Collections. From the "Cactus Jack" sheet music written for John Nance Garner's presidential campaign to Walter Cronkite's papers to dueling election result Newsweek covers (one declaring Clinton the winner, the other naming Bush the victor), the extensive archives and collections demonstrate how the press and the presidency have become virtually inseparable.