Missing Your Daily Dose of Campaign Coverage?

2008 November 11
by Leah Yale Potter

I’m passing along a recommendation from last week’s Slate Culture Gabfest for Timothy Crouse’s Boys on the Bus. Originally published in 1973, Crouse’s now-classic chronicle of road tripping with reporters covering the 1972 presidential campaign is a pretty darn entertaining look at the “good ol’ days” of political journalism (ie. before CNN started using holograms instead of correspondents).

Last 5 posts by Leah Yale Potter

2008 November 11
Sean Griffin permalink

For a more gonzo interpretation of much the same, you may want to check out author of the Foreward, Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail (1972). In addition to the author’s inimitable style, there are myriad revelations about the travails of campaign reporting and many insights about the ’72 election, one that held many parallels to the one we just concluded… (fortunately things worked out differently this time!)

2008 November 14

To add to the bibliography, Norman Mailer’s Miami and the Siege of Chicago is worth a second look. While it can’t match Mailer’s earlier Armies of the Night, and by the end of his tale you have grown a bit weary of “the reporter’s” company, his sense of place and eye for detail—from the limitations of 1960s telephone technology (including wiretapping) to the Republican delegates’ vocal resentments that would spawn the neoconservative onslaught of the 1980s—capture a pivotal moment in U.S. political history. And, switching media, try to catch a rebroadcast on the Sundance Channel of Robert Drew’s 1960 documentary Primary, the grainy footage and harsh soundtrack of which chronicle the Wisconsin contest between John F. Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey: the vacuity of the “issues” espoused by the two contenders notwithstanding, the film is both a reminder of the sheer labor that went into pre-video documentary filmmaking and how 1960s political campaigns still relied on methods dating back to the nineteenth century.

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