Thursday, Jul. 29, 2010

Eisenhower And Television

Harry Truman may have been the first president to have his nomination speech televised, but his successor, Dwight Eisenhower, was the first to harness the pop culture power of the small screen. Throughout his eight years in office, Eisenhower would mix politics with the new medium, and had his appearances televised on programs like The Ed Sullivan Show. He even shared face-time with the comedy duo Abbott and Costello while kicking off Armed Forces Week in 1955. To recognize his contributions to television news, Eisenhower was awarded an Emmy. But of all of Ike's television endeavors, none hold up quite like his pioneering use of television for political advertisements. The "I Like Ike" spots were cooked up by Madison Avenue, and while he could thank the commercials for helping him win two landslide victories, Ike was privately no great fan. He reportedly complained about the lengths a former general such as himself had to go to win the presidency.