Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

Frank StantonFrank Stanton
Photo Gallery

Session:         Page of 755

sure and call me and give me the names of some people,” which I said I would give him the next day. Before I called him, his assistant called me and got the names that Dewey wanted. So, it was that kind of a thing, and I saw it a little bit from both sides.

But, there were no debates in '48 and I didn't have the idea in '48, but in '52 it became clear to me that television was going to be a very important instrument in political campaigning. I wasn't alone in that. A lot of people were beginning to talk about it. I guess I wrote a column for The Herald Tribune that summer of '52, in which I proposed that we have presidential debates and that toward that end, Congress ought to amend the Communications Act [of 1924] to make it possible to have them. Section #315 was a barrier to doing anything other than letting every candidate who wanted to be a candidate have time.

I was a guest columnist for John Crosby, who, I guess, was the radio critic for The Herald Tribune, and when he went on vacation in the summertime he asked various people to do a guest column. I took advantage of it by proposing debates. I wasn't swamped with mail about how good the idea was, although some people did pick it up. In the campaign of '52, which was Eisenhower and Stevenson, knowing full well that under the rules we couldn't do debates, I had the crazy notion that if two of the candidates said, “Let's debate,” that it was so important and so novel, that there'd be some temporary relief given so we could do it. I also knew that you couldn't have debates unless Hamlet was willing to participate.

I went to see Adlai Stevenson, whom I had known in Chicago, because both of us were being considered for publisher of the Chicago Times. It was a crazy notion, but I was interviewed as to whether I would come to

© 2006 Columbia University Libraries | Oral History Research Office | Rights and Permissions | Help