Category Archives: News

Jimmy Carter press conference

Episode 030 Presidents and the Media: The History of Political Spin

Subscribe to the In The Past Lane podcastThis week at In The Past Lane, we talk about the American presidency – specifically the history of how US presidents have endeavored to communicate their positions on key issues of the day. To use modern political parlance, it’s the history of “spin,” that important but sometimes tawdry business of crafting and communicating a political message in such as way that it enhances your political standing. American presidents have struggled to do this since the days of the Washington administration. To help us understand what spin is and how and why it’s played such a critical role in the evolution of the modern presidency and in the success or failure of individual presidents, I talk to historian David Greenberg. He’s the author of a fascinating new book, Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency.

David Greenberg, Republic of SpinAmong the many things we discuss:
How Theodore Roosevelt created the original permanent White House spin apparatus.

Why Woodrow Wilson’s Committee on Public Information during World War I is unfairly characterized as a nefarious propaganda machine.

Why FDR’s “fireside chats” proved so effective in promoting Roosevelt’s New Deal agenda.

How Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first president to embrace the new medium of television.

Why image making became so essential to presidential success in the age of JFK.

How Jimmy Carter — yes, Jimmy Carter – was hailed early on in his presidency as a master communicator and manipulator of the media.

Why spin is not inherently negative but rather an essential element of presidential leadership.

Why the mainstream media is held in such low regard these days.

About David Greenberg – website

Further Reading

David Greenberg, Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency (WW Norton, 2016)

Katz and M. Barris, The Social Media President: Barack Obama and the Politics of Digital Engagement (2013)

William E. Leuchtenburg, The American President: From Teddy Roosevelt to Bill Clinton (2015)

Stephen Ponder, Managing the Press: Origins of the Media Presidency, 1897-1933 (1999)

Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

Jon Luc Hefferman, “Winter Trek” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Darrell Darnell of Pro Podcast Solutions

Photographer: John Buckingham

Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci

Website by: ERI Design

Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Social Media management: The Pony Express

Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates

Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight

© Snoring Beagle International, 2017


Episode 006 Why Do We Hold Political Primaries?

This week at In The Past Lane, we take a look at the history behind something that’s dominating the news these days: political primaries.
1. First, I present a feature that explores when we invented the political primary and why.
2. This episode also features a subscribe-buttonHistory Skinny segment where we discuss how history has made headlines in recent days, everything from Donald Trump relating a story about an incident from the Spanish American War that never happened, to Mississippi declaring April Confederate Heritage Month.
3. Mercy Street Rewind: Historian Megan Kate Nelson drops in for her weekly review of PBS’s historical drama, “Mercy Street,” We call this segment, Mercy Street Rewind.  This week, we talk about season 1, episode 6 – the season finale!. PLEASE NOTE: to avoid dropping spoilers on unsuspecting listeners, this Mercy Street Rewind feature appears as a separate segment.  You’ll find it listed as MSR S1Ep06 in your iTunes cue, right after In the Past Lane Episode 006.

Episode 006 credits:

Suggested Readings about the History of Political Primaries:

Geoffrey Cowan, Let the People Rule: Theodore Roosevelt and the Birth of the Presidential Primary (2016)

David W. Moore and Andrew E. Smith, The First Primary: New Hampshire’s Outsize Role in Presidential Nominations (2015)

Alan Ware, The American Direct Primary: Party Institutionalization and Transformation in the North (2002)

Links for stories Discussed in The History Skinny segment:

Donald Trump and the Pig Blood Myth
Donald Trump cites dubious legend about Gen. Pershing, pig’s blood and Muslims

The Real Story Behind Donald Trump’s Pig’s Blood Slander

Mississippi Declares April Confederate Heritage Month
Historian Kevin Levin weighs in via his blog, Civil War Memory

New data shows declining American interest in historic sites

National Geographic
Science Helps Trace Slaves to Their African Homelands  

“What if Washington, Hamilton, Lincoln and Kennedy had Twitter?”


Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (courtesy, Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

Lee Rosevere, “Going Home” (Free Music Archive)

Andy Cohen, “Trophy Endorphins” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)