THE PRESIDENCY: Show in the Oval Room

Not since the day in April 1945, when 348 reporters had jammed into Harry Truman's first press conference, had there been such a turnout. Well before the appointed hour of 4 p.m., 219 reporters were jockeying for position outside the oval office in the west wing of the White House.* For his first Washington press conference since the election, Harry Truman wore a triumphant grin.

When the cry of "all in" came, the President rose from his desk, observed slyly that he hadn't seen many of the correspondents since September (when many deserted...

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