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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Presidents and Communication Technology

Our chapter on mass media traces the political use of communication technology to the days long before TV and the Internet.  Drew DeSilver writes at Pew:
Lincoln was the first president to make extensive use of the telegraph, which had been invented decades earlier but, as author Tom Wheeler wrote, “remained an outlier to both the people and their government.” Lincoln peppered his generals with orders, advice, reassurances and criticism, even though he had to go next door to the War Department’s telegraph office to send his messages. (Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, installed the first telegraph room in the White House itself.)
McKinley’s presidential campaign produced the first campaign film: a short, silent re-enactment of McKinley receiving word of his nomination, released in September 1896. McKinley’s inauguration the following March was the first to be filmed; he appeared on film several more times during his presidency, right up to the Pan-American Exposition in September 1901 where he was assassinated.