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Photojournalism and the American Presidency - Reading America's Photos
Photojournalism and the American Presidency - Reading America's Photos
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"The First Ladies" Transcript
Lewis L. Gould, Ph.D.:

The pictures we see of presidents have a great deal to do with how we view them. The media is ultimately an instrument of persuasion. So the photojournalists help us to decide what we think a president is like.

And as presidents have used their families and their wives as part of the apparatus of their presidency, naturally the interest in them has exploded. And it becomes a kind of domestic, unfolding drama for us. And so, first ladies have helped us to understand how we define presidents and their wives as families, how Americans live together, how marriages work, how children are raised.

The agenda for photojournalists has expanded not just the president as a kind of robotic policy maker, but as a real live, living, breathing human being who has a wife, family, and problems. The kids grow up. They go off to college. They date successfully or unsuccessfully in some instances. They get married, they get divorced. The whole panoply of humanity plays out in the White House and photojournalists are there to record that too.

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"The First Ladies"

The Briscoe Center for American History