Well, Johnson was...Johnson was ill at ease with the press, and in private I learned this when I got into the government - I didn't know it when I was a reporter - would...rage against certain reporters who were writing things out of Vietnam that he didn't like, that he didn't think were supportive of the aims of the war. Uh, and while I think that's true of any administration, Lyndon Johnson brought an added dimension to anything that he ever did, and so his rage was larger, I think, than many other Presidents.
In public...what we saw with Johnson, those of us who met with him in those days and he was an accessible President, uh, was the uh, uh terribly persuasive man on the basic issues as he saw them in Vietnam - defending Vietnam against aggression uh, uh following the, the themes of Munich
uh, of resisting aggression of the uh, requirements for the uh, United States to be strong. And it wasn't I think until later that we really began to learn about his difficulties in communicating.
He was very good at communicating when you were alone with him. He was a master at that. He was quite good in groups up to about ten or fifteen. Beyond that he always had difficulties. And what he wanted to do with the media in the United States, Lyndon Johnson, was he wanted to command it the way he commanded the US Senate when he was majority leader.
You see, Lyndon Johnson was not so much a politician, in my view, as a parliamentarian. He was a man who had learned in the Congress of the United Sates to build coalitions, to put together blocs so that things could be accomplished. And when he got downtown to the White House and had to lead the country through rhetoric, persuasion, using the media for that he became terribly frustrated.
Jack Valenti, who worked for him then, will tell you that one of the things that Johnson wanted was instant access to the television networks. Therefore, in the basement of the White House was erected, put together, a control room, a regular network control room with the required buttons for putting the President on the air in a hurry.
And uh, and then Johnson occasionally back in there, and I don't have the record in front of me, as as bored housewives were sitting at home dazed by soap operas suddenly Bang!, there would be Lyndon Johnson, you see, in the middle of the afternoon saying, "You've got to believe me!" that was the real message, "Believe me. Trust me. Love me." He wanted everybody to love him.
And so until he died he had that same sense of frustration because he couldn't do with the media in the United States, with the mass media and, therefore, the people of the United States, what he had done with the members of the US Senate.