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Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Kennedy-Nixon Race an End to the Era of ‘Great Men’

  Nov. 6, 1960, Bill Henry  

Nov. 6, 1960: I rarely, if ever, post Bill Henry’s columns because they are usually not terribly relevant or interesting. This one is a surprise, however, and well worth reading.

“Dwight David Eisenhower, whose comparatively youthful successor will be named come Tuesday, will certainly have one outstanding distinction: He will go down in history as the last 'Great Man' to be elected president of the United States. There are no more 'great' men and there never will be. Pitiless publicity has ruthlessly eliminated this breed....

“The persistent probing of reporters and the vastly widened scope of coverage by newspapers, magazines, radio and TV have stripped candidates naked. No longer could Harry Truman get away with his endless poker parties or FDR spend a dozen years in the White House and die with thousands and thousands of Americans unaware that he couldn't walk. Nowadays, the candidates have no secrets whatever....”

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Comments (1)

Thanks, Larry. Agreed, for the most part, Bill Henry's column anticipates the explosion in technology which would lead to the 24 hour news cycle.

What Henry didn't note was that no person, not even "the Greats", would hold up under the light of constant scrutiny that we have today. Distortions, and sensationalism pass for news far too often.

Journalists knew of the details of Kennedy's personal life. To report it then was unthinkable. In fact, the details didn't begin to be revealed until 1975, with reports from the (Sen. Frank) Church committee. The Watergate tapes showed the long suspected dark side of Nixon.

Ironically, after Nixon's resignation from the Presidency,a new demand for governmental disclosure arose.

Also noted was Henry's enormous claim " a matter of hard fact, Dick Nixon is the best qualified man who ever offered himself for election to our highest office."

Even with Otis Chandler in charge, the Times was still firmly a Republican paper.


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