Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


Oral History Interview with
Raymond P. Brandt

Raymond Brandt
Reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1917 and 1919; American Relief Administration, Vienna, Austria, 1920; District Supervisor, Am. Relief Adm., Vitebsk, Russia, 1922-23; Correspondent, Washington Bureau, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1923; Chief of Bureau, Wash., D.C., 1934-61; and Contributing Editor, 1962-67.
Washington, D.C.
September 28, 1970
by Jerry N. Hess

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NOTICE
This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

RESTRICTIONS
This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.

Opened August, 1972
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

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Oral History Interview with
Raymond P. Brandt

Washington, D.C.
September 28, 1970
by Jerry N. Hess

 

[1]

HESS: All right, Mr. Brandt, to begin this morning would you give me a little of your personal background: Where were you born and where were you raised and just a little bit of your personal history.

BRANDT: I was born in Sedalia, Missouri on June 6th, 1896. I went to school in Sedalia; the grade schools and the Sedalia High School, and then I went to the University of Missouri in 1914, with the idea of becoming an advertising man. At the University I entered the school of journalism my third year and took the courses that applied to journalism. I won a scholarship called the Eugene Field Scholarship which didn't pay very much, and I was the Columbia sports correspondent for four or five papers: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Kansas City

 

[2]

Star, the Des Moines Register and Tribune, and Christian Science Monitor. And that's the way I made most of my expenses at the University of Missouri. I belonged to the Sigma Chi fraternity, and that fraternity at that particular time, virtually ran the School of Journalism, we had the editors and so forth. I was associate editor of the yearbook.

In June 1918 I went to an officer's training school, artillery, and I was commissioned a second lieutenant at Camp Knox (at that time), and I was allowed to skip two weeks of training. I think I made good grades on the examination. I went out to Camp Lewis in August, and I was discharged in February 1919.

To get out of the Army, I had to say I was going back to school. Went back to the University and became assistant university publisher. And while there an engineer school professor, Dr. Luther "Daddy" DeFoe, suggested I apply for a Rhodes scholarship; I thought that was very flattering and I didn't think that I could make it. I did apply, and -- but in August I had an offer to go with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as an understudy to Curtis Betts their political writer. During that time

 

[3]

I was on the Post-Dispatch, the Rhodes committee met in St. Louis and I appeared before the board, the examining board. I knew at least half of the board personally. There were fifteen candidates for two places. The other candidate that I knew was John G . Madden of Kansas City, and we looked over the list of other candidates and decided that we were going to get something, which we did. We had a very amusing examination. One of the questions they asked me, if you were in England and some Englishman said, "Let's you and I have a drink," what would you think of his grammar?

Well, I said, "I wouldn't think anything of his grammar, I'd have the drink."

And there was one little fellow that I didn't know, he said, "Well, Mr. Brandt, many teetotalers enter Oxford, but none leave."

Then I knew that I was safe. And I finally got it. I entered the second term of Oxford, at Lincoln College, and there was a mix-up because Oxford had never heard of a journalism degree. My tutor thought that they would accept it because if I had a AB degree I would have taken senior standing, but having only

 

[4]

a journalism degree, the council or whatever it was, decided that they couldn't recognize that. In the meantime I'd been studying for senior exams. I had to take the preliminary exams. The easiest was the law prelim. So, I took the law prelim and finally passed it and then I switched from law to history. I read history, and finally got my degree.

In the summer of 1920, another Rhodes scholar and I, Elwin Evans, started a tour of Europe. We landed in Vienna. Another former Rhodes scholar was head of the Hoover administration there. So Evans and I worked for Hoover in the American Relief Administration for two months. I was in charge of the Office of Finances. I handled books and so forth. I should have studied, but I didn't, but I made my expenses in Vienna, and came back and finally I passed the history examinations.

And just before that, the Hoover people needed some men in Russia. In 1922, after I had taken the exams, I went to Russia as the district supervisor for a town in White Russia called Vitebsk which is between Smolensk and Minsk. I was there for ten months. This district was about the size -- almost the size of Missouri,

 

[5]

and my job was to feed the orphans in the schools and to handle the $20 Hoover food packages American people bought -- deposited $20 in this country and sent their certificates over there and the recipients cashed them in food. This was during the famine in Russia. Mine was not a famine area and so we began to liquidate in 1923. I still had one term coming to me at Oxford, so I went back to Oxford.

I came back here to this country in 1923. Went back to Sedalia, and reapplied for a job with the Post-Dispatch. I wanted to come to Washington, and O.K. Bovard, the managing editor said, "Well, there's no place there., but you go and get a job in Washington and we'll see about that later on." The head of the Washington Bureau here was Charlie G. Ross, who had been one of my professors at the University of Missouri, I worked for two or three months on the Washington Herald, and then I got the job as Ross' assistant, or associate, in the bureau. I think it was in December of 1923, and I've been with them ever since.

And Ross, as you know, had gone to school with Truman.

 

[6]

HESS: They were in the same class in high school.

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: When did you first meet Mr. Truman?

BRANDT: I was trying to think, and I don't remember, because the only time that it really remains in my memory, was when he introduced the resolution for the...

HESS: Truman Committee.

BRANDT: Truman Committee. Now, I must have known him before that because he was chairman of the subcommittee on railroads, and I covered some of those, but I didn't know him intimately. You have to understand this, the Post-Dispatch editorial policy was against Truman, at all times, because of his connections with the Pendergast machine. This was particularly true because in the '34 primary, the other candidates in the primary were Representatives "Tuck" [Jacob L.] Milligan, and John J. Cochran. Milligan was the candidate of Senator Bennett Clark, Cochran was from St. Louis, a very close friend of mine, Cochran went

 

[7]

to his death believing that that primary was stolen. His thesis was that one of his people had made a mistake in saying that they were going to carry St. Louis by a hundred thousand. And Pendergast carried Kansas City and Independence, by I think it was fifty thousand. Cochran thought that he was counted out. He really believed that he had been nominated. And I'm inclined to believe that too, because that was the period when Pendergast had the vote scandals and they were voting graveyards and everything else. I never talked to Truman about that, but I have talked to Cochran.

HESS: Were there ever any times when you felt that Mr. Truman's association with the Pendergast organization may have influenced some of his decisions?

BRANDT: There are two cases, that I can remember, when he was chairman of that subcommittee. The railroad had their lobbyists out, and they got ahold of Pendergast. I forget which railroad it was. They called Pendergast and told them to exclude that particular railroad from the investigation. And Truman told me

 

[8]

about that. And he said, "But I can't do it." That was the one thing that we supported Truman on, his investigation of the railroads.

The other time that they tried was when Pat Harrison and [Alben W.] Barkley, were fighting for the majority leadership. In that case Truman told Pendergast he had given his word. And in both cases Pendergast did not influence his actions.

HESS: Did you see Mr. Truman very often during the years that he headed the Truman Committee?

BRANDT: Well, never closely. He had a counsel that I worked with. He was very, very able. He was the man that I dealt with most of the time.

HESS: Did you deal with Hugh Fulton at any time during the...

BRANDT: Very slightly.

HESS: He was the counsel for the Committee wasn't he?

BRANDT: But this man Max somebody, I can't think of his name, he wrote a book about the FBI, because I helped him a little with that.

 

[9]

HESS: Oh, Max Lowenthal.

BRANDT: Max Lowenthal, yes.

HESS: Did you help write that book?

BRANDT: No I didn't help write it. Max consulted me occasionally because at that particular time we thought the FBI was using rubber hoses and everything else.

HESS: Do you still think so?

BRANDT: No, I don't think so now. But they were pretty tough in those days. Max later became suspect. I know they thought he was a Communist. And I never could figure that out. They came around to me about it. Max was a far-out liberal. He was a very good investigator on the railroads. Because of the editorial policy of the Post-Dispatch, we were never persona grata in Truman's office, although Charlie Ross had gone to school with him, and I don't think they had even very close social contacts.

HESS: During what period was that?

 

[10]

BRANDT: When he was Senator.

HESS: Oh.

BRANDT: Charlie always admired him, but I don't think there was social contacts.

HESS: Do you think that during that period of time that Truman sort of held it against Mr. Ross that he was working for the Post-Dispatch?

BRANDT: No, I think there was just a matter of an understanding.

HESS: Was the Post-Dispatch's policy somewhat in the nature of a Kansas City-St. Louis rivalry, also?

BRANDT: No, we don't care anything about that. That's three hundred miles away. They are not competitors in any way.

HESS: All right. Do you recall anything about Mr. Truman during the 1944 convention when he was selected to run with President Roosevelt?

BRANDT: Well, the only thing that I really know about is

 

[11]

that there are two points. First, the letter of the -- Roosevelt letter.

HESS: The "Douglas-Truman" letter.

BRANDT: Douglas-Truman letter. Edward Harris was covering that part of it, and he got the word that [Robert] Hannegan had this letter. Then there was the rumors that Hannegan had changed the letter. As soon as we found out that Truman was going to be nominated, we had an exclusive because Hannegan told Harris this. So, we broke into a radio conference in St. Louis on a Sunday night with this bulletin from the Post-Dispatch because we knew the story would come out in the morning papers.

Well, either just before the vote, or shortly afterwards, I went to the Truman headquarters, and Truman was there. He called me and said he wanted to talk to me. We went about two or three rooms back and were alone. He said, "Pete, I just want you to know that I did not want this job. I'd much rather be in the Senate, I'm happier there. I promised to nominate [James F.) Byrnes, but I just had to take it." That must have been after he talked to Roosevelt, but I'm sure that he was telling the truth and I

 

[12]

still don't know yet why he told me this at the time.

On the other point I know that he wanted some sort of cooperation. He called me at my home on, I think it was a Sunday, and said he was going to introduce this resolution for the investigation and he wanted my suggestions.

I went to his apartment on Connecticut Avenue and I read the speech and I didn't make any suggestions. I think there was one error in grammar, but that was all. He introduced the resolution the next morning.

And on another point on that investigation, when the Committee term was about to expire, he went to the White House to see what Roosevelt would do on extension of the Committee. And he told me that he went in to see Roosevelt and he put it right to him at first, "Mr. President, are you going to support extension of the Committee?"

Roosevelt said, "Yes."

And Truman said, "I got up right away and left." Once FDR had said it, he didn't want to hear anything more. As soon as he got the answer he left as quickly as he could.

HESS: At the time that you were at Mr. Truman's apartment

 

[13]

the night before he gave his Truman Committee speech, did he say anything about -- at that time, about why he felt it was necessary to establish such a committee to investigate the national defense program.

BRANDT: He may have. It may have been the Civil War, but I just don't know, I'd have to speculate on that. And I also don't know who was the originator of the idea. I've heard that he was not. I think, the Kansas City Post had a correspondent here, and I've heard that someone else suggested, but I do not know about that.

HESS: Do you recall anything in particular about the campaign that year in 1944? Did you travel on the train?

BRANDT: No. I was with Dewey.

HESS: Then in November the election was held and Roosevelt and Truman were elected. What do you recall about Mr. Truman between November and the following April, when he was Vice President?

BRANDT: Vice President.

HESS: When he was Vice President.

 

[14]

BRANDT: Well, the only thing that I remember about that was the [Henry A.] Wallace affair.

HESS: Secretary of Commerce.

BRANDT: Yes, and RFC.

HESS: The separating of the two.

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: What do you recall about that?

BRANDT: Truman told me that he was working for Wallace, and Hannegan was working for Wallace. Truman was calling in the Senators to the Vice President's room, and telling them why he thought Wallace was necessary. And Hannegan was going around to other Senators. I once asked Bob, "Bob, what are you telling these people?"

He said, "I'm asking them what they want."

I don't know whether Truman used such blunt language or not, but as you know Jesse Jones didn't want Wallace in the RFC. And I know that later when Wallace was in the Cabinet and was in the fight with Byrnes and so forth, Truman was very bitter. He said,

 

[15]

"Because after all, I made him." He had saved his job when he put him in Commerce.

HESS: Well, one question before we move on about the Douglas-Truman letter of 1944: Is it your belief that when Robert Hannegan had the names changed from Douglas-Truman, to Truman-Douglas, he did that without the authorization of President Roosevelt?

BRANDT: I would guess so. That would be my guess, although you never can tell what Roosevelt would have done, because I understand there was some very fast work on getting the letter in the first place.

HESS: Well, Robert Hannegan during that period of time, had been one of the leaders to try to get Mr. Truman the spot. Is that right?

BRANDT: Oh yes, there was no question about that.

HESS: Well, Hannegan was a Missouri man. What was the policy of the Post-Dispatch toward him?

BRANDT: Well, we were against him.

HESS: What was the reason?

 

[16]

BRANDT: Well, he was allied with the organized Democrats there, and...

HESS: [Bernard F.] Dickmann, at that time?

BRANDT: I don't remember their names, they were a pretty shady lot. And I know this, that when Hannegan was nominated to be Commissioner of Internal Revenue, we attacked him editorially as a political appointee and so forth. It was really bitter. When he became Commissioner of Internal Revenue, he just worked like hell. And his wife complained that he was working too hard, and he said, "Well, I want to make a liar out of the Post-Dispatch." And he was a pretty good commissioner. There were some crooks in there at the time that he didn't spot, but I don't think he was responsible for them.

You have to understand my relations with these people. Although the Post-Dispatch was against them, I had fairly good relations with them, and Truman always said, "That damn paper of yours, but I like you."

And one of the amusing incidents in a press conference, he and I used to have these colloquies, that's when I offered to bet him on an election.

 

[17]

HESS: Which one was it?

BRANDT: I don't know, there was some primary out in Missouri. I had had this understanding with Steve Early that when the President spoke as the President, we had to take what he said, but if he spoke as a politician he was just another politician, and there were no holds barred. And Steve thought that was correct. And Truman always took an interest in Missouri politics. And so at one press conference he made some statement that somebody was going to win. I said, "Do you want to bet?"

And he said, "Yes."

And we didn't follow it up. But there was a lot of criticism from my "disrespect" some people thought, of the President. But after all, he was talking as a politician and not as a President.

HESS: Tell me, does it put any particular pressures or difficulty on a reporter who works for a paper whose policy is anti-administration?

BRANDT: Well, in my case it didn't, because he and I got along well. But the other incident was that -- it was

 

[18]

when they took it over to the old State, War and Navy Building.

HESS: The Indian Treaty Room.

BRANDT: Yes. I had a front seat which we had to fight for, but -- and we had this colloquy, I forget what it was, about something or another, and he attacked the Post-Dispatch and I stood up for it. And the next press conference I wasn't able to be there, I was doing something else. One of our reporters, Joe Hamlon was there. He took my seat. And after the press conference, Truman came over to Hamlon and said, "Where's Pete today?"

"Well, he had something else to do."

He said, "Well, I just wanted you to tell him there was nothing personal in my remarks the last time."

Well, I knew there wasn't. We understood each other perfectly. In the '40 election he wanted to know what the Post-Dispatch would do. I said, "Well, I can't speak for the editorial page of the Post-Dispatch. They'll probably be against you. But I think you'll get fair coverage in the news columns."

He said, "That's all I wanted to know."

 

[19]

Our relations both with Hannegan and Truman, Ross and I both had a professional attitude.

Bennett Clark was very bitter against me, and the Post-Dispatch, and carried it out. He attacked me on this in the campaign and so forth. Truman would never do a thing like that.

HESS: Mr. Truman mentioned several times that he tried to make a distinction in his mind between the reporters themselves and the policies of the paper for which they worked.

BRANDT: That's right. Both he and Roosevelt cultivated the working press, the reporters.

HESS: What form did their cultivation take?

BRANDT: Well, I mean they told him the truth, they didn't attack him, and -- of course, Roosevelt was bitter. He even thought that the publishers instructed the reporters what to write, which was perfectly absurd.

HESS: Have you ever had a publisher try to influence your writing?

BRANDT: No. They have suggested stories. For instance

 

[20]

Joseph Pulitzer thought that we should have known that Roosevelt was going to die. And I had covered the '44 convention -- election, and I certainly saw no evidence during the campaign. It didn't happen until December of 1944 when Roosevelt really broke. He had been ill from -- during January, on through June, and he had...

HESS: When did you first notice that his health was deteriorating?

BRANDT: It began in -- the first time in January of '44, his jaw dropped.

HESS: '44 or '45?

BRANDT: '44.

HESS: '44.

BRANDT: He had the flu or something, and in the spring and summer there was a panel of doctors came down, Leahy of Boston and a Dr. Paul Dickens here, and they went over and they made him promise that he would only work six hours a day and take a daily nap. His daughter was to supervise it, and so forth. Well,

 

[21]

after all, there was the Normandy invasion, the conventions, and he just didn't do it. And the -- but he went through the campaign. I was with him on a lot of those.

HESS: Were you in New York the time that he rode in the convertible during the rain?

BRANDT: Yes, so did I.

HESS: Did you?

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: Did you catch cold too?

BRANDT: No.

HESS: I understand he did. Is that right?

BRANDT: No, but what he did do is he had been drinking before he made the speech.

HESS: Really? You think he had been drinking?

BRANDT: What had happened, we started out at 7 o'clock in the morning and we ended up around 4 o'clock in the afternoon. And the story I heard was that as soon as they got to Greenwich Village, he started drinking old-fashioneds.

 

[22]

And then at the, where was it, the Waldorf? There were some more drinks there, and if you'll go over that tape, you'll find he slurred his words. It's noticeable on the tapes.

HESS: Is it? All right.

BRANDT: Oh, I won't say he was drunk, he had...

HESS: He had been drinking.

All right. What did you notice about his health about the time of the Yalta Conference? He made a joint address to the Congress when he came back.

BRANDT: He looked terrible there.

HESS: Did you see that, were you up there at that time?

BRANDT: No, I was not. I saw the pictures.

HESS: How about the inauguration, which that year was held on the south portico?

BRANDT: I was there.

HESS: You were out there?

BRANDT: Yes. And that was noticeable too.

 

[23]

HESS: His poor health was noticeable then? And then after that he left for Yalta.

BRANDT: Yes, after the inauguration he left for Yalta and he looked terrible there. And there the tapes will show it too.

HESS: Okay. And not too long after that was April the 12th in 1945. Where were you when you heard of the death of President Roosevelt?

BRANDT: I was in a taxi.

HESS: What were your impressions?

BRANDT: Well, it was a shock because he had been -- somewhere there's a last picture, public picture of Roosevelt and me. I had won the Raymond Clapper award. And they had the presentation of the $500 check at the White House correspondents' dinner.

HESS: What time was that, what...

BRANDT: It was in April. It was about a week before, I think.

HESS: About a week before he went to Warm Springs?

 

[24]

BRANDT: Yes. I think he left right afterwards. The reason I say that, I had a photograph of him presenting me with the check, and I wanted the picture autographed. I took it to Jonathan Daniels. Someone who saw me had said, Roosevelt said, "If I had been on that committee I'd have voted the same way," and I wanted him to...

HESS: Write that down.

BRANDT: To write that down because I've got one when I was president of the National Press Club, of my presenting him with a silver membership card. But it is signed, "Franklin D. Roosevelt" and I wanted a companion piece for that, but he did not sign the -- he was busy going to Warm Springs.

HESS: What appeared to be the state of his health at that time?

BRANDT: There are pictures there -- the picture with me he looked as good as he ever looked.

HESS: Looked like he had snapped back as he had so many times before.

 

[25]

BRANDT: Yes, but there are other pictures taken at that same dinner, where his head is down and he looked terrible.

HESS: All right, after President Roosevelt died, what kind of a President (since you did know Mr. Truman, and you're both from the same state), what kind of President did you think Mr. Truman was going to make at this time?

BRANDT: Well, I couldn't believe he was up to the job. He was very humble. We knew that he would work hard at it, and it was just a question -- that was a perilous time, and he was so different from Roosevelt. Ross wrote the stories about him because he knew him.

Ross was still with the bureau. He was writing a column and analytical articles because I had become head of the bureau in 1934. Ross came back from St. Louis to write -- a special writer, a contributing editor. So, having known Truman, he wrote this, that he was honest, that he was sincere, he was a hard worker.

I covered the press conferences and Ross was writing these special stories. If you ever want to look them up they probably are out at the Truman

 

[26]

Library, Ross' stories, because they've got my stories out there.

HESS: You mentioned Mr. Roosevelt's handling of the press, how would you compare the ways in which FDR and Mr. Truman tried to handle their relations with the press?

BRANDT: Well, they had different backgrounds. For instance Roosevelt had been Governor, and one of the questions we had in our mind is how we were going to handle Roosevelt's press, also we were worried about his health. I went up to New York, my assignment was to find out how long Roosevelt would live. He had been insured for a million dollars. I went up to see him in Albany and he was in bed with a cold. I interviewed him there. Then I went down and talked with the insurance people in New York. They had no figures on it, because few people get polio when they're thirty-eight years old. There were no actuarial figures on it. But while I was there I talked to reporters on the New York papers who had covered Roosevelt in Albany. There were two of them, two very fine reporters. One was Jim

 

[27]

[James C.] Hagerty's father, and the other fellow was a Swede and a great reporter. They said, "Roosevelt doublecrossed them all the time," and I think it was Hagerty's father who said, "If a man fools me once, that's his fault; if he fools me twice, that's my fault." They were skeptical about Roosevelt. There was a hostility between Roosevelt and the reporters at Albany, and when he came here. I think he made up his mind he wasn't going to do that because we had no trouble with him. I had a run-in with him at one of his early press conferences.

HESS: What was the occasion, do you recall?

BRANDT: There was some finance bill and Pat Harrison was then the leader I think of the Senate. He had told us that he had word that Roosevelt didn't want it, or did want it, I don't know which. Shortly after there was a White House press conference and Roosevelt said just exactly the opposite. I challenged him, I said, "''that's not what we heard." And it went on, oh, for a minute or so, he was saying one thing and I was saying another. The man who came to my rescue was Jay Hayden, of the Detroit News who had had the same information that I had.

 

[28]

He backed me up. Time had a piece about it, about this brash reporter with a, I forget what kind of voice, but I have a voice that projects. I could be heard, and they had a piece that Roosevelt was being challenged. I got quite a lot of publicity about it.

The next time I think it was in the Oval Room and I asked a question. Steve Early rushed over to Roosevelt and said, "That's Pete Brandt." He and I got along all right. I didn't ask silly questions. I didn't ask him whether he was going to run for a third term, knowing that he was going to do that on his own. And there were times when, on diplomatic things, when I was convinced that he was lying, and I'd ask another question, and he'd repeat it, and then he’d smile and we knew that he was doing his job and I was doing mine.

But Truman, on the other hand, had been in the Senate and there is a very close relation between most Senators, the smart Senators, and the Senate reporters. And he trusted them. He was very frank. He answered their questions very sharply -- I mean very briefly, yes or no. And that's where he made his mistakes.

In the White House conferences Roosevelt would

 

[29]

filibuster. He made speeches, but Truman, if there were twenty-eight questions, he would give twenty-eight answers. That "red herring" thing, was put into his mouth, but he made the mistake of repeating it. He was not really a public speaker in the sense that Roosevelt was a public speaker. And he didn't try to use the conferences to project his ideas like FDR's horse and buggy press conference.

HESS: Do you think he might have been more effective had he tried to use the press conferences as FDR had used them?

BRANDT: He couldn't have done it. He was not a voluble man, he didn't think in those terms.

HESS: In most of his press conferences, as you say, he gave short, brief answers.

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: And did not go in for background. But do you recall at his special press conferences that he held about one a year with the -- one year with the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and another year it was the Radio

 

[30]

News Analysts, in which he did, more or less, expounded on his policy and it was less of a question and answer session.

BRANDT: I don't know because I did not cover them.

HESS: Do you think he would have been somewhat more effective though had he have been able to do this?

BRANDT: The backgrounders? I'm against them.

HESS: Are you? Why?

BRANDT: Well, you never know who's going to break the rules. And they are generally self-serving. For instance, if you have a background conference -- we had them during the war with [Fleet Admiral Ernest J.] King, and we had them with [General of the Army George C.] Marshall, and there was never a break because we had information that was highly secret. King told us about the whole strategy of the Normandy invasion. When my managing editor was in Washington I told him, "Well, it's going to happen and this is the way it's going to do. We're going to do this in Normandy this way." I pointed on a map to the coast and the rivers.

 

[31]

He said, "Well, write me a memo on that."

I said, "I won't write a memo on that for anybody."

He said, "I'd like to know, because if there's a feint someplace else, I'd like to know whether it was the real thing. "

I said, "So would the Germans."

I refused to write the memo. We didn't know the exact date, but we knew the whole strategy.

But the other type of backgrounders is when a man says, "You have to write this on your own." Then you get his view, then you can't give yours -- the other side -- because it would look silly. Roosevelt offered to give us an exclusive story on the Supreme Court before he made the recommendation.

HESS: The Court-packing recommendation?

BRANDT: The Court-packing recommendation. This was in December he offered this. He only wanted a week's notice. He said I could have my managing editor there because the editor was the man who was very upset about the Constitution and so forth. I told the managing editor about it, O.K. Bovard, that it would be off of the record. "No," Bovard said, "if he wants to say anything,

 

[32]

let him say it on the record." I thought this was a mistake, I would have taken it. But it was a policy story. The editor was not worried so much about Court-packing but about the trend of the Court, the same as Roosevelt was. You can get the same information without a backgrounder. I can spot the background stuff and I'm suspicious of it, because it's a one-time story.

HESS: All right. After Mr. Truman came in did he try to model the format of the press conference after the way that Roosevelt had conducted them?

BRANDT: I don't think so. No, he changed his locale of course.

HESS: A little later on.

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: Yes. What was your evaluation of those two locales? Would you prefer the Oval Room or the Indian Treaty Room?

BRANDT: I'd take the Indian Treaty Room myself, because there was always a fight to get into the Oval Room.

 

[33]

Sometimes you waited for an hour to get into the Oval Room. It was a small door, and there was a tremendous crush. And then there was a tremendous crush to get out if there was anything big. When we went to the Indian Treaty Room you had seats, you could take notes. It's really hard to take notes standing up. And particularly when you are trying to get recognized, whereas in the Treaty Room you stood up to get recognition. I had a front seat. But the people in the back, when they stood up they weren't always recognized. But as far as I was concerned, the Treaty Room was much better than the Oval Room. I did not like the State Department with [John F] Kennedy because that was a set-up if I ever saw one for the President.

HESS: How so?

BRANDT: The whole value of a press conference is to get your questions answered. Now the first answer, is always self-serving. No matter what your question the first answer is self-serving. [Marvin] McIntyre told FDR, "Look out for Brandt's second question." After the self-serving answer, you ask another question which you hope will bring out the truth, or certainly the

 

[34]

other side.

HESS: You ask your hard question second.

BRANDT: Second, yes. The first answer is always self-serving. The second question is designed to get another angle. I've asked a half a dozen questions on one subject. You could do that in the Treaty Room. But when you got into the big State Department Room, you were recognized, then Kennedy would give a long answer. While he was answering you'd sit down, and then you couldn't get recognized to ask a second question. I stood up all through one long answer just to ask him a second question.

HESS: Did you get a chance to ask it?

BRANDT: Yes, I did.

HESS: Did he usually answer questions forthrightly?

BRANDT: I think he was much more, oh, much more truthful than Roosevelt, but he was much more deliberate than Roosevelt.

HESS: How skillful was President Truman in fielding

 

[35]

questions from the press?

BRANDT: His mind didn't work that fast. For instance, Roosevelt, if he had made an ambiguous answer would take other questions. Then two or three questions later he'd come back and make the amplification. I've never seen Truman do that.

HESS: Mr. Truman was accused of "shooting from the hip."

BRANDT: Yes, I think he did. He didn't take time enough. Roosevelt had this trick with a cigarette.

HESS: What's that?

BRANDT: You'd ask a question...

HESS: Sit there and puff on a cigarette awhile?

BRANDT: Puff on a cigarette awhile, and then answer it.

HESS: To give himself a few seconds to think.

BRANDT: Yes. I've seen him any number of times, then he'd fix the cigarette, he'd fumble around. Truman didn't do that. He just answered right off, yes or no. You can't do that when you're President.

 

[36]

HESS: Do you recall any specific incidents when Mr. Truman may have shot from the hip, answered the question a little too soon and might have later wished he had not?

BRANDT: Well, that "red herring" is one example. But there are places where he answered the specific question. A smart politician will not answer your question as you phrase it. They will (if they are really smart), rephrase the question.

HESS: Use their own words.

BRANDT: Yes. I've had that happen in Senate hearings. In the old days we used to send up questions for the Senators to ask the witnesses. And the naive Senator, or ambitious Senator, would take your question and paraphrase it.

I had that happen with me in one case, within the last ten years, when [Charles E.] Wilson, the Secretary of Defense was on the stand.

I had to send the question up three times. I finally wrote, "Ask this exactly in these words." And when they did that Wilson admitted that he had made the change and not the President. Senator [Burton K. ]

 

[37]

Wheeler was the best on that. You'd send a question up, he'd shove it under the papers, and he would, just as though it were his own, ask it exactly as written. I have never understood why a Senator would paraphrase a reporter's question, because if you're following closely you want a specific answer to a specific question, and it's very difficult to get.

HESS: Regarding Mr. Truman's answers to questions, do you think that he tried to give honest, forthright answers?

BRANDT: I think he did. And if he didn't want to answer, he said so.

HESS: All right. Will you tell me a little bit about your working relationship with the gentlemen who held the .position of Press Secretary, and since you had known Mr. Ross for quite some time, did you get along extra well with Mr. Ross?

BRANDT: Oh, very well. I advised him to not to take the job.

HESS: Why did you advise that?

BRANDT: Because he was sixty years old and he had had only

 

[38]

limited spot news training. Most of his work as head of the bureau was analytical stuff, so he didn't understand the press associations. He didn't understand how cutthroat that operation is, but it was mostly on the fact that he was sixty years old. It's a young man's job. Of course, you know why he took it: Truman said he really needed him. He said, "You can't turn down the President of the United States." But I never presumed to work on our relationship. There was never any question about whatever I did at press conferences. I could have seen Truman quite a lot if I had wanted to, but we have a rule, or at least I had a rule here, which Senator Bennett Clark didn't like. He wanted to make a deal with me. I said, "Bennett, I have to be in a position to attack." And that's the whole idea. A lot of people thought that I had an inside track at the White House, which I did not have, and I didn't try to get, because in the first place it's not my job. You have to be in a position to attack. You don't want to have any ties that would lessen. your independence.

HESS: You don't want to compromise yourself.

 

[39]

BRANDT: Compromise yourself. And you have to be in a position to do whatever you think is the proper thing. I had one exclusive interview, but they asked for it. It had something to do with rivers and harbors. Charlie Ross called me up one Saturday, said, "Could you come down to see the President?"

I said, "I certainly can."

I went down, Truman had the maps all on his table and so forth, and explained what he was going to do and so forth. He told me about some message he was going to send, and he was going to say such and such. I wrote a quite long story about -- but the question was how would I handle it, rather than this was an interview with the President." He said, "Well, you and Charlie work that out." And so I wrote, "the White House believed," and "the White House thinks," and "the President is going to do this, that and the other," but never anyplace where "the President said."

Then the other time when he was leaving the White House in late 1952. Everybody else was having an interview with him and I finally said I'd like to have one. We talked for about an hour. He told me he thought I was never going to ask for an interview, but he did make the

 

[40]

stipulation that he wanted to read it. I wrote it and submitted it. There was a part of it about when Eisenhower came to see him. He explained to Eisenhower the difficult decisions they were going to have to make. I think the last paragraph was -- I think in that one I could quote him. I wrote, "When Eisenhower left, he was stepping on his chin," or something like that. And Truman scratched it out, saying I could not use that particular phrase that he had used in the interview. And also I had to send the manuscript to the White House afterwards.

There's a story I wrote about Stevenson. Truman asked Stevenson to run and offered his support and the Governor said no at that time. I remember we got a tip that Truman had called Stevenson a second time to get him to run and he came here, it was made about the time that Truman left Washington for Key West on March 7, working vacation, because I know I went out West to Springfield to see Stevenson.

HESS: We'll get into that. One question before we move on. Just after Mr. Truman became President there were a few days when he used a gentleman by the name of J.

 

[41]

Leonard Reinsch...

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: ...to handle his press affairs.

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: What do you recall about that episode?

BRANDT: Well, there was a mix-up there and I never really understood it. There were three people, Reinsch and Jonathan Daniels, and it was the question of who was going to get the job. And I think both of them thought they would. Didn't Steve Early come in there for a while?

HESS: Well, now he had been Press Secretary and then when "Pa" [General Edwin M.] Watson died on the way back from Yalta, he was moved to Administrative Assistant and Jonathan Daniels was moved to Press Secretary. So, Jonathan Daniels was Press Secretary from Yalta until April the 12th.

BRANDT: And Steve was still around?

HESS: Steve was still around, he was Administrative Assistant.

 

[42]

And, as I understand, when the announcement was made in the White House of the death of President Roosevelt, it was not made by Jonathan Daniels, it was made by Steve Early.

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: Were you there?

BRANDT: No, I just don't remember that, but there was a mix-up there and there was this rivalry between Reinsch.

HESS: Did you ever hear why Reinsch did not get the job or...

BRANDT: No, I haven't. No.

HESS: All right. And during Charlie Ross' time there, were the events of 1948. What comes to mind when you look back upon the eventful year of 1948; the campaign, the election?

BRANDT: As I said, I was with Dewey, right from the start and went with Dewey every place.

HESS: You made all of the trips with Dewey, is that right?

BRANDT: Oh yes, I had nothing to do with Truman at all.

 

[43]

HESS: What was your impression of the crowds, and of the impression that Governor Dewey was making?

BRANDT: They weren't so hot. Actually the reporters -- I think it started at Minneapolis -- I knew that Dewey wasn't getting over, and it was mostly due to the farmers, and to the crowds. And Hagerty was then Dewey's press man. So, several of us went to Hagerty and said, "He's not getting over."

HESS: And what did Hagerty say?

BRANDT: He said, "Well, I have told him that, and that they won't change."

HESS: He said, "They" won't change?

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: Who was he referring to there?

BRANDT: I think he was referring to [Herbert] Brownell. To Brownell and some of the others, because I talked to Brownell about it later.

HESS: What did he say?

 

[44]

BRANDT: This was a long time afterwards. I told him this episode that we had seen at Minneapolis, we saw at Chicago, and we saw it going east to Albany into New York, and Dewey made a farm speech at the Foreign Policy Association dinner in New York. I asked Brownell why, and he said, "By that time we learned that the farmers were against Dewey, but it was too late."

HESS: Do you recall why the farm vote switched?

BRANDT: Nobody knew because it did not show up in the polls; the farmers wouldn't tell who they were going to vote for.

HESS: Do you recall that year anything about the rewriting by Congress, of the Charter of the Commodity Credit Corporation in which they did not provide Government storage bins?

BRANDT: Yes, that was one of the things.

HESS: And then a bumper crop came in.

BRANDT: Yes, and also, who was it -- Stassen or Taft. Stassen made the speech which cost, God knows how many votes. The point was even where they did have storage bins, the

 

[45]

farmers were for Truman.

The other point was that the Dewey people were so overconfident. Before Dewey started his trip I went up to Albany to find out, to make a preview of the campaign. They had a file cabinet of cards, under every head; agriculture, public power, everything, as to his past utterances, all in direct quotes. Well, they let me see that file. I went over the file and took the material and wrote a long Sunday story -- "This is How Dewey is Going to Campaign." All he had to do was to shuffle these cards. As he went out West he was following the story right along the line, right from the cards. When we were coming back, he got vaguer and vaguer, making the same general speeches all the time. And at first I wrote, "This is what he said," and "This is what he said before," and "This is what he meant." And then I decided that if he's not going to say it why should I explain what he meant.

I was on the train with him from Albany to New York when he outlined his Cabinet. He was positive as to whom he was going to have in his cabinet. They were really confident. I have to admit that I thought

 

[46]

he was going to be elected. Pulitzer asked me about it, "What's going to be the outcome?"

I said, "I can't tell you because I've been with Dewey and I've seen only the Dewey crowds, and I haven't had any contact with the others." So, I wrote a very long story that even if Dewey won the Democrats would survive. I just accepted that Dewey would be elected; I was wrong like almost everyone else.

HESS: Do you think that the Governor thought right to the end that he would win?

BRANDT: He did, yes. On that trip to New York he came into the press car and told his plans -- all off the record.

HESS: Just before the election?

BRANDT: Yes, just before the election.

HESS: Yes. What did he say then?

BRANDT: Well, I think he had Dulles, he had people like that.

HESS: That's when he outlined who his prospective cabinet

 

[47]

members would be?

BRANDT: Yes. He was very sure he would win.

HESS: Where were you on election night?

BRANDT: I was here in Washington. I remember when Missouri returns came, Truman had carried St. Louis and Kansas City I think by a hundred thousand. Not knowing about the farmers I said, "Wait until the farm vote comes in," because the farmers had voted Republican in the past. When the farmers came in it was a hundred and forty thousand Democratic margin outstate vote. I knew nothing about that farmer vote, except what we had seen along the line.

HESS: All right, does anything else come to mind about the White House between the time of the election in 1948 and December the 5th of 1950 , the date of the death of Charles Ross?

BRANDT: No, the only thing that -- Truman once told me that when Charlie first came to the White House he had swollen feet or something, and who was Truman's doctor?

HESS: [Dr. Wallace] Graham.

 

[48]

BRANDT: Graham. And Truman once told me that Graham had saved Ross' life when he first came in there. The other story was that Ross had had a heart attack before and I certainly did not know that. He was working ungodly hours, which he had never done before, and then also he had to go to these damn parties. These official functions are deadly. And I still don't see how these people can do it. They can go to these official parties and even when they get through at 10:30 or 11.

HESS: All right. Mr. Ross died on December the 5th, 1950 , and there are a couple of points we want to cover here. One, the next day a music critic on the Washington Post, Paul Hume, received a letter from President Truman. Have you got any inside information on that?

BRANDT: No, I have nothing on that.

HESS: Margaret's concert was also on the evening of December the 5th.

BRANDT: Well, there was one thing about Truman, because in talking with taxi drivers and other people, and

 

[49]

certainly politicians, they said that once he gave his word, why, that was it. The other thing they liked was that he stood up for the family. That made a tremendous impression on people. And I remember these people were glad to see how he stood up for Margaret.

HESS: And then for a few days Steve Early was called back in to handle press relations for about a week until Joseph Short took over.

BRANDT: Yeah.

HESS: Do you know why Joseph Short was chosen?

BRANDT: Yes. I know when Charlie died, Merriman Smith called me up and wanted to have dinner with me. I came downtown and the question was who was going to be the next Press Secretary. I forget who was in mind, and Merriman said, "Well, Dewey Short, or...

HESS: Joe Short?

BRANDT: Joe Short is the best man, and he wanted me to call up Hannegan, or Steve, and say that this was a good idea. I said, "I'm not going to interfere in a thing like that." But I did talk to Steve and told

 

[50]

him what happened. Steve said, "Well, you keep out of it," he said, "just let me handle it." So, I was sure Short was the one and I was sure Truman liked him. When we discussed it, Merriman was more or less the dean there, and he picked me out because of Truman and Ross, and wanted me to do this. But it turned out that it was all right. Of course, Short died too. That's a terrible job.

HESS: That's right, he died on September the 18th of 1952, during the 1952 campaign.

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: How would you compare the way that the two men handled the job?

BRANDT: Well, to my mind, the best Press Secretary was Hagerty, because he had been trained by Dewey and he played no favorites. Now, Steve Early and I were very close friends, and Steve always favored me. Hagerty knew the Post-Dispatch was for Stevenson, but that made no difference to Hagerty. I was given the same treatment as anybody else and Hagerty could speak for the President. One of the interesting things

 

[51]

about it, on that one point, when Truman gave that alleged interview to [Arthur] Krock, I raised hell with Charlie about it, and...

HESS: What did he say?

BRANDT: He said, "We thought it was not going to be a news story. It was just a background story."

And I said, "But Charlie, you saw it, you know what happened, you should have told Truman."

Charlie said Truman had given his word that Krock could use this stuff. Charlie said, "Truman said he could do it."

I said, "You should have told him that he couldn't do it."

He said, "You can't tell the President of the United States he shouldn't do anything."

I said, "The hell you can't! That's your job!"

Charlie didn't do it anyway. I don't know now what I would have done if I had been in Charlie's shoes.

HESS: What was the general feeling on the part of the press, the other members of the press, when Arthur

 

[52]

Krock received that exclusive interview?

BRANDT: Krock had been critical. He is a clever fellow and he had been writing letters to the President and he saw him at a party. I don't blame Krock in the slightest, but the White House men who covered the White House thought it was favoritism. And I don't think Truman was deliberate in this. A lot of Presidents want to be in the New York Times. I don't think Truman wanted to. It was just one of those accidental things.

HESS: What do you recall about the press conference that was held that week after the Krock interview? Do you recall that at least some of the press were...

BRANDT: They were very critical and I remember that Truman was pretty sharp in his reply. That's the only thing I remember.

HESS: Yes he was.

Well, of the two men that served Mr. Truman the longest, Charles Ross and Joseph Short, who do you think would be the pick there? Who would you pick as

 

[53]

the best man?

BRANDT: Well, they were two different kinds. Joe had more experience on spot news than Charlie, but he didn't have the immediate access to the President.

HESS: He wasn't the old family friend that Mr. Ross had been.

BRANDT: No. The point is this: I didn't cover the White House regularly, but those who do, they have to get an answer. If you get a query from your managing editor, or city editor, or whoever gives it, you want to get quick action, and sometimes you want only the President's reaction, and in a case of Charlie, he could get it right away. Early could do it with Roosevelt. But I'm quite sure that Short couldn't do it, because after all even Charlie was impressed by the President.

HESS: And then Mr. Short died on September the 18th of 1952, and Roger Tubby and Irving Perlmeter, who had acted as Assistant Press Secretaries, then were Acting Press Secretaries through the rest of the campaign. And then in December Mr. Tubby was made Press Secretary

 

[54]

for about one month. What do you recall about those gentlemen?

BRANDT: Very little. I don't think I had any contact. I knew Tubby, he was a State Department man.

HESS: That's right.

BRANDT: And he -- I don't think I had any dealings whatever with him.

Wasn't there an Eben Ayers in there someplace?

HESS: Yes, that's right. Eben Ayers was the Assistant Press Secretary for Charles Ross. What do you recall about Mr. Ayers?

BRANDT: He was terrible.

HESS: Why?

BRANDT: Well, I mean he had no access to anybody, and you'd call him up and talk to him and he'd say, "Well, I'll see to that," and then he didn't do anything.

HESS: Nothing was done.

BRANDT: That puts a reporter in a very bad light if he

 

[55]

can't get action.

HESS: You would evaluate his performance as very low.

BRANDT: I think that was the reason Merriman Smith called me.

HESS: Were you somewhat worried that Mr. Ayers would be Press Secretary?

BRANDT: Yes. Yes.

HESS: And neither one of you thought that would be the best thing?

BRANDT: I don't know whether Eben would like that. You might put that off the record because he's still alive I think.

HESS: Yes he is.

BRANDT: Well, I'd put that off.

HESS: This we will close.

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: All right. Just a short question about some of the White House staff: Did you have occasion to work closely,

 

[56]

or at any times, with say Clark Clifford and Charles Murphy, who -- they held the job of Special Counsel.

BRANDT: The only thing that I know is that when Clark was going to get the job of Counsel, "Jake" [Commodore James K., Jr.] Vardaman had been Military Attache.

HESS: And he brought Mr. Clifford to town.

BRANDT: To town, yes. I guess when Vardaman went to the Federal Reserve Board.

HESS: Do you know why that move was made?

BRANDT: I'm not sure...

HESS: Go ahead, speculate, why do you think that he...

BRANDT: Well, I think that Vardaman was exploiting the office, and putting his address at the White House and stuff of that sort. He did that even after he went to the Federal Reserve. But before Clark was appointed he called me up, and I went over to the White House. Clark said, "I want you to know that I'm going to get this job," and so forth. "It's going to be announced later today, and I thought you'd want to

 

[57]

know."

I couldn't print it right away, so I called St. Louis and told them about it so they'd be prepared. They had more. data on him and so forth. When Vardaman went to the Federal Reserve, he was shooting at Clark, although Clark had been one of his chief spokesmen for the confirmation for the Fed. And it was really very embarrassing -- this better be off the record for awhile.

HESS: That's fine.

BRANDT: And he was attacking Clark, and Sidney Souers, who was then with the National Security Council, told me about it and wanted to know what could be done. I said, "Well, I know that this is happening. I'll write a story about it that Vardaman is an old Missouri feudist," and I wrote a story saying that Vardaman, of the Federal Reserve Board, was attacking his successor, Clark Clifford, and went into details about it. And one of the phrases I used "Like an old feudist, he shoots from ambush." And we printed the story and Souers took it to Truman, and said, "Here's what Brandt has written."

Truman opened his drawer and said, "I've already

 

[58]

seen it." He had a copy of it.

HESS: Did you ever hear from Vardaman about that?

BRANDT: No, the only thing is that when Vardaman left, he wrote me a very effusive letter saying he didn't want to leave without saying goodbye and all that sort of thing. What had happened was this: When he was nominated to the Federal Reserve, the Post-Dispatch in St. Louis, the editorial page, was against him. And Marriner Eccles (I think it was Marriner, or somebody speaking for Eccles), thought they would like to have him and they wanted to know what I could do to change the editorial policy. I said, "I can't change the editorial policy, that's not my business." I said, "What I can do, I can send a reporter up and we will cover the hearing that you think important, and we will print that, we will send it." Well, they did, and we printed the stories. There wasn't any change in editorial policy. I think the editorials just stopped. Then he was confirmed and then somebody must have told Vardaman that. But Vardaman, when he got into the "Fed" made a lot of speeches that he shouldn't have made, and they isolated him. Nevertheless,

 

[59]

when Vardaman left, he wrote this rather effusive letter.

HESS: The first person actually to hold the job of Special Counsel for President Truman was President Roosevelt's holdover, Samuel I. Rosenman.

BRANDT: I knew him very slightly. I met him, but I had no contact with him.

HESS: How about some of the other people that were in the White House, Mr. Truman's Appointment Secretary, Matthew Connelly?

BRANDT: We had known him, and our relations with those people were not very intimate.

HESS: Did you ever have occasion to ask them for favors?

BRANDT: No. We'd never ask for a favor.

HESS: That would be compromising your position.

BRANDT: No, we would never -- I would help somebody get in the Army, but I wouldn't help him get out. And I have spoken to people, but I would never speak for promotion.

 

[60]

HESS: Did you ever have any dealing with General Harry H. Vaughan?

BRANDT: Yeah, he didn't care for us at all.

HESS: How come?

BRANDT: Well, I don't know why. I think it was because of Truman's Pendergast background. The Post-Dispatch had been against that and we weren't very much impressed by Vaughan. He didn't conduct himself in a very dignified way and I was always at arms length in operations between Vaughan and me.

Oh, on that very point, though, I just happened to think of this this week. Donald Dawson complained after the '52 election. I had written a story that one of the reasons Stevenson was defeated was that the cronies around the White House (I mentioned Vaughan and Donald Dawson), had caused resentment across the country. And Dawson asked me to come to the White House and see him the next time there. He said he had seen my story and he didn't care for it. He didn't believe it. Well, we talked for about a half an hour and we finally ended up, "Well, that's your opinion, and this is my opinion."

 

[61]

I'm convinced that it was actually that the Democrats had been in too long, they were becoming arrogant.

HESS: Do you think that was part of the so-called "mess in Washington" that was...

BRANDT: Yes, I think it was.

HESS: ...brought up in 1952 , some of the people around Mr. Truman?

BRANDT: Yes, I think that -- I don't think anybody could have beaten Eisenhower anyway.

HESS: Okay, in June of 1950 the North Koreans invaded South Korea, do you have anything in particular that comes to mind?

BRANDT: I don't remember.

HESS: In the summer of 1950.

BRANDT: I remember that.

HESS: Where were you when you first heard the news? Do you recall it?

BRANDT: I don't recall that because I think Wallace Duel

 

[62]

was covering all that for us. And the only thing that I know about that Korean thing, Sidney Souers, a very good friend of mine, was on the National Security Council, and the...

HESS: He's from St. Louis too, is he not?

BRANDT: Yes. And I think he once said that I was an ex-officio member of the National Security Council because he did tell me occasionally what was going on, because he wanted a public reaction to any publicity about things of that sort. And I think the Security Council had more or less approved of the Acheson speech. I know there were times that they had the line that our interest was -- did not include...

HESS: That's the speech where he drew the line of his defense perimeter and Korea was left out?

BRANDT: Yes. And I think that they were trying to defend that. But as to anything else, I have no recollection. That was over a weekend, you know, Acheson went out to Kansas City and they worked it all out. But I didn't handle any of that. The only thing I did handle, with the National Security Council, was that there was a

 

[63]

very important document I think it was National Security, or a paper called No. 68 or something like that.

HESS: NSC-68?

BRANDT: Yes, Pearson and Alsop were having a lot of stories about that, which were partly wrong, so I went to Souers and I said, "Sidney, if you will tell me about it, or let me see it, I can write a definitive story on it and stop this speculation."

And Souers said he would talk to the President about it, and the word came back, "We'll answer all your questions."

Well, Sid had this position paper, or whatever you want to call it. I knew enough about it to ask questions. I don't know anything about it now, but I did at that particular time. So. I asked a lot of questions and we got the story, but then I had to submit the manuscript to the White House, and what's his name, Elsey?

HESS: George Elsey.

BRANDT: George Elsey. And we went over it word by word, because every word in that had a peculiar connotation.

 

[64]

A free nation, or a non-Communist nation, or a neutral nation, and all that. So, they finally approved it and we printed the story and it did stop that speculation.

HESS: Were there other times when you worked with Mr. Elsey?

BRANDT: No, that's the only time I think. I knew him, but I don't think I ever submitted any other manuscript.

HESS: What was your impression of Mr. Elsey?

BRANDT: Well, he knew what he was doing, because he cleared up a lot of vague phrases. There is a difference between a neutral nation and a free nation I'm told.

HESS: And in September of 1950, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson was replaced by General Marshall as Secretary of Defense for a while. Do you recall anything about that particular shift? Why Louis Johnson was relieved?

BRANDT: Well, he was not a very good Secretary of Defense for one thing.

HESS: Why was he chosen for Secretary of Defense?

BRANDT: He had raised a lot of money in the '48 campaign.

 

[65]

I'm sure that's the reason he was appointed.

HESS: I see. General Marshall became Secretary of Defense, and in the following month Mr. Truman took a trip to Wake Island, on October the 15th of 1950 , to see General MacArthur.

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: I do not believe you went along on that trip.

BRANDT: We didn't go along.

HESS: Several newspapers had reporters on that trip. Why didn't you go?

BRANDT: Because it cost them $1500 just to get there with little chance of getting a big story.

HESS: Shortly after that the Chinese Communists entered the battle and the complexion soon turned and then in April General MacArthur was dismissed. What do you recall about the dismissal of General MacArthur, anything in particular?

BRANDT: No, the only thing, Bradley was in favor of it. I covered the MacArthur appearance…

 

[66]

HESS: And the hearings.

BRANDT: The hearings. We got only the cleared transcript, and it was a mess. We had no access to MacArthur and I was very much against MacArthur because of the "bonus riots."

HESS: Were you here in town at that time of the bonus riots?

BRANDT: Yes, I covered it.

HESS: What do you recall?

BRANDT: Well it's -- I was the one that told General [Pelham D.] Glassford, who was the police commissioner, that the soldiers were coming in and he wouldn't believe it.

HESS: Were you down at Anacostia Flats at this time?

BRANDT: Yes, later. It was one of the few times I ever worked twenty-four hours in one stretch. What date was that?

HESS: I'm really not sure.

BRANDT: It was in 1931 wasn't it?

 

[67]

HESS: I think so.

BRANDT: Well, I know I went down there when the shooting started. They had this building on Pennsylvania Avenue, they had the camp around there, and when the trouble started I went down, Paul V. Anderson and I. Paul was in the bureau then. There was a riot, and the police had gone into this place somewhere around Fourth Street. There was a vacant lot and a vacant garage.

Glassford and I were up on the (this was in the morning), on the second floor, and there was a parapet on this building and he was standing there. The police were on the ground. They were shooting up in the air and Glassford was shouting down, "Put those pistols down." And I was standing up there with him, and I asked myself, "Why the hell are you standing up here? You might get shot."

HESS: Might make a good target.

BRANDT: So, I got down. Glassford stayed there. Then one of the bonus marchers tried to come up an outside stairway, and a policeman was standing about halfway, he shot him right through the heart and that fellow

 

[68]

died right there at the foot of the stairway. Then about 2 o'clock word came that they were going to send the soldiers in. Glassford was going around town on his motorcycle, and I was down on Pennsylvania Avenue and I told him the soldiers were coming and he couldn't believe it because he hadn't asked for them. And the soldiers finally did come around 5 o'clock. And...

HESS: Did you see General MacArthur at that time?

BRANDT: Yes, and he was riding with his fancy britches and so was [Dwight D.] Eisenhower. Eisenhower was a major. I think [George] Patton was there, too, I'm not sure. But I know this: there is some book that I just read that he said that they had their sabers. But they didn't have their sabers, they had their revolvers, something like this. And then they started the evacuation and then the burning of the shacks, and then the tear gas. I was tear gassed three times that day and I know I went over a fence about seven feet high to get away from it. Then the orders to move them all out. And I went across the bridge over into Anacostia where they burned the huts. But they never

 

[69]

showed any movies of that. I've never understood that, why the movies -- they must have confiscated them or done something about -- because there is no doubt about it that the soldiers set fire to those huts. As we were going across the Anacostia Bridge, they had their bayonets on their guns and they were really prodding them. And, although they were marching across -- and a Negro was there and he got stabbed in the back, badly stabbed. He said, "Well, I may not be an American, but I'm a Virginian." It was really a very sordid scene, terrible and I never did forgive MacArthur for that.

HESS: Back to Mr. Truman. To what extent did you travel with Mr. Truman? Did you ever go down to Key West on any of his trips?

BRANDT: Just one trip.

HESS: Just one trip?

BRANDT: That one trip, yes.

HESS: What do you recall about the arrangements that were made for the people who went along down there? Where did you stay?

 

[70]

BRANDT: They were very good. We stayed at the...

HESS: Bachelor officer's quarters?

BRANDT: No. No, my wife and I went to a hotel.

HESS: Oh.

BRANDT: It's right on the front, it was quite a ways from him, from the other reporters. They had very good accommodations.

HESS: Is this a little unusual for reporters to take their wives along?

BRANDT: They do it now quite often.

HESS: They do it now.

BRANDT: Yes, because he was going down there for a week or so, and it was not -- it's not unusual. I know that now when our reporters go out to California with Nixon, they occasionally take their wives if it's going to be an extended stay, a week or so or something longer.

HESS: Well, Mr. Truman took several trips to Key West.

BRANDT: I was only on one.

 

[71]

HESS: Was there someone else from the Post-Dispatch that would go, or why didn't the Post-Dispatch send someone?

BRANDT: Because we didn't do it in those days. I think it's a mistake to do it now.

HESS: Why is it a mistake?

BRANDT: Well, what you get is routine news. I mean they hold up all this routine stuff just to make by-lines out of the place, and there are very seldom major decisions made on a vacation trip. I used to go with Eisenhower when he went to that golfing place.

HESS: Augusta, Georgia?

BRANDT: Not to Augusta, but to Palm Springs and Thomasville, and places like that.

HESS: Very little hard news comes out of those places.

BRANDT: Very little. You write stories and -- well, there was a big story at Palm Springs. We did have a steel strike and that was the important news, and there was news on that. But still there was time to play golf.

 

[72]

HESS: Concerning the trip that you were on, did we pin that down to March of '52?

BRANDT: I haven't found that story yet.

HESS: Do you recall if there were any particular big stories that came up down there? Why I mention that, there was also a steel strike during the Truman administration that came up at that time. Charles Wilson made a trip down to Key West.

BRANDT: This was more or less a vacation for me.

HESS: And nothing big came up?

BRANDT: Right. I mean I found two stories there. It was in March of -- was it March of '52?

HESS: '52. I'm not sure, I think that that's what we decided awhile ago.

BRANDT: Oh, I wrote three stories I see.

HESS: What are the headlines?

BRANDT: Well, this was just a general story, "Truman Concluded a Key West Idea for Deciding a Sixty-four

 

[73]

Dollar Question." What was the sixty-four dollar question? Oh, I guess this is whether he was going to decide...

HESS: Oh, whether he was going to run again or not?

BRANDT: Oh, here it is, yes. "There will be time for him to prepare the speech he will make to the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner on March 29." That's when he made the declaration.

HESS: That's right.

When did you first become aware that he had decided not to run? Was that at the National Guard Armory?

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: And you never heard any inside dope before then?

BRANDT: No, the only thing that I heard later, Souers told me right after he resigned that there had been a meeting in, I think December, of the White House staff and...

HESS: Where was it held? At Key West?

BRANDT: No, this was in December of -- that would be '51, and that he apparently knew it. When did Clark Clifford

 

[74]

leave?

HESS: Clark Clifford left in 1950.

BRANDT: Truman didn't like it a bit.

HESS: Why?

BRANDT: He thought he should stick with him.

HESS: Did you think that Clark Clifford thought Mr. Truman was going to win the 1948 election?

BRANDT: I don't know. I know Charlie didn't think he was going to win. He said he did, but he didn't.

HESS: Charles Ross did not?

BRANDT: Yes, because he told me whatever happened I'm not going to stay with this job, but, the other story that I know, let's see when was it. I think it was Martin Hayden, who is now with the Detroit News. Just before the 1948 election Martin had written a piece that Truman was going to be badly beaten. He was a very good friend of Charlie's and asked Charlie to read it, and Charlie said, "I wouldn't change a word." That's Martin Hayden's story.

 

[75]

HESS: How do you know that President Truman was angry when Clark Clifford left?

BRANDT: I don’t know, it was just attitude. I had no specific -- I know they were much disturbed when Clark took some of his law clients. There was one case where he became -- one of Standard Oil Company's, and they didn't like that a bit. It had to do with Elk Hills or something like that and he was getting a big fee. I think one of the reasons was that they were about to reach a settlement, and because Clark was the attorney, the Navy was leaning backwards, and I never knew the outcome of it.

HESS: After Mr. Clifford left, he was replaced by Charles Murphy.

BRANDT: I had very little contact with him. He was very uncommunicative sort of person.

HESS: Now, the events of 1952. You mentioned that the first time that you were aware that Mr. Truman was not going to run was when he made his announcement at the National Guard Armory.

 

[76]

BRANDT: I was there.

HESS: What do you recall about that night?

BRANDT: Well, it was the last word, and so the thing to do was to get it on. And then I went to the White House thinking there might be something (this was about midnight I guess it was), and there wasn't anything there.

HESS: At this time, as a reporter who had been on the political scene for many, many years, after Mr. Truman had removed himself from the race, who in your opinion did you think would make the best Democratic standard-bearer that year?

BRANDT: I know the Post-Dispatch thought Stevenson was.

HESS: What did you think?

BRANDT: Who were the other people?

HESS: Oh, there were several people mentioned. Fred Vinson was even mentioned.

BRANDT: Yes.

 

[77]

HESS: Alben Barkley would have liked to have run. [Estes] Kefauver, of course, was running, with his coonskin cap.

BRANDT: I really had no favorite at that time.

HESS: What did you know about Adlai Stevenson at that time?

BRANDT: We had made Adlai Stevenson Governor by exposing the corruption in Illinois.

HESS: When you say "we" who do you mean?

BRANDT: The Post-Dispatch.

HESS: The Post-Dispatch?

BRANDT: Oh, yes. We had, what was the fellow's name, Green, "Pete" [Dwight] Green, the Governor, we exposed him and so when the time came, and the -- of course, there was that indecision between Stevenson and Senator -- the other Senator...

HESS: Paul Douglas.

BRANDT: Paul Douglas, as to who was going to run for Governor and who was going to run for the Senate.

 

[78]

HESS: Each wanted the other position didn't they?

BRANDT: Yes, that's right. But the -- then Stevenson won and Stevenson was a liberal, he was everything the Post-Dispatch was for. The Republicans indicted some of our people; reporters. I'm talking about in St. Louis, I didn't have any part of it. Stevenson won the nomination and then because we were the paper that went through that part of the country, we gave him a big send-off. I didn't know Stevenson when he was here in the Roosevelt administration. He was a very difficult person. When he was nominated then we had a conference out in St. Louis as to whom we should support for the Presidency, Eisenhower or Stevenson. My position was "Stevenson is our man." We supported him.

The other part was that I had been with Eisenhower, and Eisenhower made that Indianapolis speech where [Senator William E.] Jenner put his arm around him and all of that sort of thing. I made a descriptive story of that and that more or less decided Pulitzer that we should come out for Stevenson hard, because Eisenhower did not reject Jenner. But I found

 

[79]

Stevenson a very hard person to work with, although he was sympathetic. He was just not a politician. We came out for him again in '56 for the same reason. Stevenson had carried Missouri in '52.

HESS: Did you go to the convention?

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: I believe the convention that year was in Chicago. Is that right?

BRANDT: Yes, that's right.

HESS: Did you go out there that year?

BRANDT: Yes, I was there.

HESS: Do you remember anything in particular, does anything stand out?

BRANDT: No.

HESS: What stands out in your mind when you look back? Stevenson's speeches?

BRANDT: I'd have to go through my files to -- those things happen so fast at a convention that they really leave

 

[80]

no lasting impressions. I know I didn't play any part in anything.

HESS: And what do you recall about the campaign? Did you travel on any of the trains?

BRANDT: I went with Eisenhower for awhile, but most of the time I didn't go on campaign trips.

HESS: All right. I think you mentioned earlier that...

BRANDT: I went with Stevenson in '52. I had this difficulty with him then.

HESS: What was the main difficulty that he had? The lack of ability to communicate?

BRANDT: Well, no, the point was this: We wanted to smoke out Eisenhower.

HESS: In what way?

BRANDT: On Taft-Hartley I think it was. The Democratic committee, or the Democratic convention, had gone on for repealing Taft-Hartley, and the question was whether we could get Eisenhower to take a position on it. So, St. Louis thought that if we got Stevenson's

 

[81]

position -- a statement by Stevenson on this...

HESS: To be a starting point.

BRANDT: Then we could take it to Eisenhower and we'd say, "What's your answer to this?" That was the idea. Well, I went to see Stevenson in Springfield and explained it to him. He wanted to think it over and so forth, and then, finally he decided and says, "No, I will not give any exclusive interviews," which was very stupid. He said, "Scotty Reston wants an interview and I won't give it to him." Here he was an unknown and if he could get in the New York Times with an exclusive interview, why, that would have been needed publicity. The compromise was that they would give me all the speeches he had made and all the statements he had made on Taft-Hartley and that I could write a story from that, but they wanted to see the manuscript, which is very annoying in any case. That was the only way it could be done, they said. So I wrote the story. Stevenson was in New Orleans. We telegraphed the story to him, and they finally okayed it, and we printed it. Of course, it wasn't any good

 

[82]

because it was just a rehash. Of course we couldn't use it for the other purpose. Then I later found out that he never saw the story. That upset me. And one other experience with him, that we wanted a roundup of his whole campaign. I was out in California with him. And he had given a very good speech at, I think it was to the Press Club or some place in San Francisco, which gave me everything I needed. And all I needed was to update it by a personal interview with him. I had a hell of a time and we finally decided that we could do it on the bus. He wanted to know if I had read, or heard, the San Francisco speech and I said I had used a great deal of it. He finally said, "Did you get the changes I made in the final manuscript?"

I said, "I paint with a broad brush." I said, "I have the changes, but that's not the point."

We were coming into a little town called the chicken capital of the world. He said, "Well, I'll have to go change my speech for this." We got into this place and there were about fifteen hundred school kids. He makes a speech but doesn't make any votes.

 

[83]

And he was just difficult, a person like that, where he has a chance to get national publicity, he was worried about the text of a speech to a crowd of non-voters.

HESS: I've heard he liked to make a lot of last minute corrections.

BRANDT: He did. And he'd run overtime on his radio and TV speeches and he had no conception of what the other fellow has to do. Interestingly enough, I asked Stevenson once whether he thought Truman had helped or hurt him in the campaign.

HESS: What did he say?

BRANDT: He said, "I don't know." Then I asked Truman about his appearance. You know he came in the last -- probably the last two weeks and he made this trip. And I said, "Who made the decision for you to take that trip?"

He said, "I did."

I said, "Did you get any word from Stevenson?"

He said, "No." So, he did it on his own. He said, "I knew he was going to get licked."

 

[84]

HESS: When you were working with Mr. Stevenson that time did you come in contact with any of the people around him? Carl McGowan?

BRANDT: Carl was all right, yes. And so was, what's his name, the fellow who is now on the Kennedy Center.

HESS: Bill Blair; William McCormick Blair.

BRANDT: Yes, he was all right, but he had two press agents who were very stupid.

HESS: Who were the press agents?

BRANDT: Flanagan or something like that?

HESS: William Flanagan?

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: And who was the second one?

BRANDT: I don't know, but there was another one.

HESS: Clayton Fritchey?

BRANDT: He wasn't very good either.

HESS: Why? What did he do wrong?

 

[85]

BRANDT: They had the same idea that Stevenson, that the press was their enemies. They really did.

HESS: Why would Clayton Fritchey have an idea like that since he had been press man for years and years?

BRANDT: I don't know, except that he had been with -- he had been with Marshall, and you took it or you didn't take it. And he had also been an editor, not a reporter.

HESS: With the New Orleans Item.

BRANDT: Yes. I mean there's a difference in...

HESS: That makes a big difference?

BRANDT: Makes a big difference, whether you are a publisher -- a publisher has one idea, an editor has another one, and a reporter has another one.

HESS: Who's got the right idea?

BRANDT: The reporters, because he was there. I mean, there's policy consideration. I understand that. I know I went to Russia in '31, my last instructions was, "Do not urge the recognition of Russia." The reason they did it was that the P-D was fighting Union

 

[86]

Electric Company, and the P-D was being called Bolshevik in St. Louis.

HESS: And they thought it would look bad if they were urging the recognition of Communist Russia.

BRANDT: It was a perfectly sound decision because that was really important to them out there. So those are the things that enter into a decision. But Truman and Roosevelt were right when they cooperated with the working reporters. You get your story into the paper much better than in the editorials.

HESS: Mr. Truman used to say that just as long as he got his ideas across in the news columns he didn't care what they said in the editorial pages.

BRANDT: He was quite right.

HESS: All right, were you surprised when Eisenhower won, or not?

BRANDT: No.

HESS: What about ‘56, do you think the Democrats could have...

 

[87]

BRANDT: No, Taft might have won in '52.

HESS: Do you think Taft could have beaten Stevenson?

BRANDT: Might have been able to beat him, because there was that "mess in Washington."

HESS: Do you think that swung a lot of votes, that so-called "mess in Washington?"

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: If Mr. Truman (this is just speculating), if Mr. Truman had decided that he couldn't get anyone to run and had run again, do you think he would have been successful?

BRANDT: He would have been smashed by Eisenhower and might have been smashed by Taft.

HESS: What do you think are Mr. Truman's major accomplishments? During his administration what were his major accomplishments?

BRANDT: I think the Korean thing was a tremendous decision. Well, first the atomic bomb was the big decision, the

 

[88]

use of the atomic bomb.

HESS: Are you in favor of that decision?

BRANDT: At the time, yes. In hindsight, no. We'd had these off-the-record sessions with King and these others as to the number of casualties -- American casualties -- that would have resulted from an orthodox warfare, and when you thought of five hundred thousand casualties, Americans, and this way it was two hundred and fifty thousand Japanese. That was the argument at the time and I would have agreed with it. Then the Korean action, because I think if they hadn't stopped the North Koreans and the Chinese, then we would have had a Communist Asia.

HESS: There's one thought on that: We have often been warned against entering into a land war in Asia.

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: We did at that time.

BRANDT: Yes.

HESS: Now we are mired in one.

 

[89]

BRANDT: Yes, but in that case we at least had the sophistry of the United Nations back of us because the Russians were not in the Security Council, and Acheson handled that very well. Also Eisenhower accepted a truce that Truman could not accept. There was no difference between the plans for truce, but Eisenhower could do it and Truman could not have done it. He might have been impeached at that particular time. Now Eisenhower gets credit for Korea, but he accepted the original plan almost.

HESS: What do you think Mr. Truman's place in history will be? One or two hundred years from now, how will he be recognized by historians and members of the general public?

BRANDT: I think those two things there will probably be given a lot of condemnation two hundred years from now, if there is a world.

HESS: Do you have anything else to add on Mr. Truman, on your duties as a reporter at the White House?

BRANDT: One thing that I think was his mistake, is that he accepted the Yalta agreement on Berlin. That was an

 

[90]

Eisenhower and Roosevelt mistake and we should never have let Berlin be isolated that way. The story I've heard was that Churchill wanted to renege on that, to take Berlin, and to abrogate that part of the understanding about four-power government in Berlin. Truman is supposed to have said, "Well, Roosevelt gave his word on it." I'd be with Churchill on that one. When they talked about that before it was done, I just couldn't believe that they were going to do that.

HESS: Isolating of Berlin in East Germany.

BRANDT: Yes, in having that demarkation line. I just couldn't believe it. Eisenhower is partly to blame, and so is former Governor Wynant, those are the two that made the mistake. But we were strong enough then to have reneged on that agreement, the Yalta agreement.

HESS: One last question: How would you evaluate the Presidents of recent years? Their administrative ability, in their handling of the job, and as men. Starting with Roosevelt.

BRANDT: I liked Roosevelt. He may have been tricky, he may have been Machiavellian, but he certainly ran this

 

[91]

country and he made a mild economic revolution in this country. If Hoover had been re-elected I can't conceive what would have happened. I was for Hoover in '28 because I had been with him in Vienna and Soviet Russia and I thought he was probably the best equipped man to be President. But he just would not feed human beings in this country. Roosevelt was in the forefront of the present trend in government, in Britain, in France, in Germany, of the strong government, the central government, looking after the welfare of the people.

HESS: How would you evaluate Mr. Truman as a man?

BRANDT: I think he had that same idea. He was for the common man, for the general good. He always said that, "I try to decide what is right and wrong." I think he was nearly always right on the big opinions. I wrote stories about it. I understand why he did it, but he should have fired that crowd around him. That gave him a bad name. But he had been trained that way. The fact that he stuck by Pendergast, and we just raised hell about that. But on the other hand, the politicians said, "Well, he stands by his friends."

 

 

[92]

HESS: He flew out to Pendergast's funeral when he was Vice President.

BRANDT: Yes. He stuck by him. And the only mean things he did, he never forgave Maurice Milligan for the prosecution of Pendergast.

HESS: The district attorney.

BRANDT: Yes. He was very bitter against -- and he did hold up Milligan's reappointment.

HESS: How would you evaluate General Eisenhower as a man?

BRANDT: He was very lucky. He was certainly not a great President. He was not outstanding. And he had no concept of political government. I know I was playing golf with Taft after Eisenhower came in. We were walking up the second fairway and Eisenhower had appointed all of these commissions. I told Taft that Eisenhower did not have a philosophy of government.

HESS: What did he say?

BRANDT: He said, "Well, I'm afraid you're right." He said, "But, I think these commissions are all right because

 

[93]

we should delay any action on things."

HESS: At this time did Senator Taft give any indication of disappointment that he was not the man in the White House?

BRANDT: Not particularly, no. He was also very much like Stevenson. I was playing golf with him the day they made that switch you know in the Texas delegation and so forth.

HESS: The seating of the delegates.

BRANDT: Yes. And between the ninth and tenth hole he had taken a telephone call from that Congressman from Tennessee, Carroll Reece. He had told him to go ahead. He said, "I don't know whether I've made a mistake or not," and I didn't say anything about it because I wasn't out there. This was on a Saturday. And so we finished the game and then we finished up the game on the eighteenth hole, and he said, "After the convention I'd like to have a talk with your editor and your publisher."

And I said, "Well, I'll tell St. Louis that." He didn't include me, which I thought was very odd;

 

[94]

because after all I was the guy that was going to be here in Washington. But he didn't get the nomination. Eisenhower was nominated on the first ballot and we were sure he'd get it. Reece and his wife were greatly disappointed.

HESS: Were they Taft supporters?

BRANDT: They were Taft's big supporters.

HESS: Were they more or less the old line?

BRANDT: Yes, very old line.

HESS: Republicans.

BRANDT: Conservatives.

HESS: And what's your evaluation of his successor John F. Kennedy?

BRANDT: Well, he really didn't have a chance to finish his term. Awfully glib and awfully smart, but there was the Bay of Pigs. And he was like Truman at Potsdam, he took the advice of people he thought knew what was going on.

HESS: Do you think that he should have delayed that order

 

[95]

on the invasion of the Bay of Pigs?

BRANDT: He should have stopped it. Unless they were going to do the original plan. And -- but it was poorly conceived.

HESS: What's your evaluation of LBJ?

BRANDT: Well, I never trusted him at all. I had dealings with him, and he accomplished an awful lot, but as a reporter I always felt he was trying to use me. We got along all right, but he was so egocentric and...

HESS: Were you along on any of his press conferences where they would walk around the White House lawn?

BRANDT: No, I never did that. No, the point was that he thought that anything he did was all right and it was always for his own glorification and he had no concept of the whole country. His whole experience had been up on the Hill, and he didn't think it necessary to reach the people.

HESS: What have you got in mind?

 

[96]

BRANDT: He always wanted to present a fait accompli without any discussion on the other side, and his secrecy was just so absurd. He once told me that during the Roosevelt administration after a Cabinet meeting, all the Cabinet officers rushed to a telephone to telephone their correspondents and friends, [Harold] Ickes and that crowd. He said, "That's not going to happen in my administration." He just put a clamp on it. There was no reason to talk to a Cabinet officer, they were scared to death of him.

HESS: In his administration, the phrase "credibility gap" came to the front.

BRANDT: That's it. Very much so.

HESS: Do you think he deserved that?

BRANDT: I think he did. Things that were all set to go and if somebody leaked it, he changed it. He wanted to be the -- he wanted to announce all the good news and have somebody else announce the bad news.

HESS: And what is your opinion of the man across the street at the present time, Richard Milhouse Nixon?

 

[97]

BRANDT: I've known him for a long time. I think he has something of the Johnson traits in him. I don't think he knows the temper of the country at all. He knows Congress, but he can't make the deals with it Lyndon did. No, I may be completely wrong about it, but I think that the best training for a President is to be a long term legislator or a Governor, not a businessman. And I like to see a politician in the White House. That was the trouble with Stevenson he was not a real politician.

HESS: What's your definition of politics and a politician?

BRANDT: If you're talking about a good politician, you have to have a philosophy of government. You either have to be a money-minded man, or a human welfare-minded person, then you have to know how to deal with a lot of people. You have to be able to take half a loaf because then you'll finally get the other half. And you have to have public discussion. When Hoover first had his commission to reorganize the government, there was a question whether to make public his task force papers. We had a session with former President Hoover and we made suggestions that they ought to release the task

 

[98]

force papers before the whole commission made the final decisions. He said, "Well, that would cause controversy."

I asked, "What's wrong with controversy?"

I don't like the fait accompli idea. For instance on judges, to appoint a judge without any previous notice. We stopped the appointment of judges in the old days in the '20s, They were going to appoint a judge out in Missouri that we thought was unfit. When we found out about it, why, we sent stories to St. Louis and defeated him. And that's the sort of thing that -- some of this rushing this stuff through, and getting your man in, why that's not for the general welfare.

HESS: Any other thoughts?

BRANDT: I can't think of anything else.

HESS: We thank you very much for your time, sir.

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]


List of Subjects Discussed

    American Relief Administration, 4
    Anderson, Paul V., 67
    Atomic bomb, use of, 88
    Ayers, Eben, 54-55

    "Backgrounders" (press briefings), 30-31
    Barkley, Alben W., 8
    Berlin, West Germany, 89-90
    Blair, William McCormick, 84
    "bonus riots", 66-69
    Bovard, O.K., 31-32
    Bradley, Omar, 65
    Brandt, Raymond P.:

      Eisenhower, Dwight De, evaluation of, 92
      Johnson, Lyndon B., evaluation of, 95-96
      Kennedy, John F., evaluation of, 94-95
      Nixon, Richard Milhouse, opinion of, 96-97
      and political events of 1948, 42
      and politics, definition of, 97-98
      Presidents, recent, evaluation of, 90-91
      Roosevelt, Franklin D., death of, 23-25
      and Truman, Harry S., 8, 18, 25, 87-88, 91-92
    Brownell, Herbert, 43-44
    Byrnes, James, 11

    Clark, Bennett, 19, 38
    Clifford, Clark, 56-57, 74-75
    Cochran, John J., 6-7
    Commodity Credit Corporation, Charter of, 44
    Connelly, Matthew, 59
    "Court-packing" recommendation, 31-32

    Daniels, Jonathan, 41-42
    Dawson, Donald, 60
    Dewey, Thomas E., 43-47
    Dickmann, Bernard F., 16
    Douglas, Paul, 77
    "Douglas-Truman" letter, 11, 15

    Early, Stephen, 17, 41-42, 49-50
    Eccles, Marriner, 58
    Eisenhower, Dwight D., 68, 80-81, 86
    Elsey, George, 63-64

    Flanagan, William, 84
    Fritchey, Clayton, 84
    Fulton, Hugh, 8

    Glassford, Pelham D., 66-68
    Graham, Dr. Wallace, 47-48
    Green, Dwight (Pete), 77

    Hagerty, James C., 43, 50
    Hamlon, Joseph, 18
    Hannegan, Robert, 11, 14-16
    Harrison, Patrick, 8
    Hayden, Martin, 74
    Hoover, Herbert, 97-98
    Hume, Paul, 48

    Indian Treaty Room, 33

    Jenner, William E., 78
    Johnson, Louis, 64-65
    Jones, Jesse, 14

    Kennedy, John F., and press conferences, 33-34
    Key West, Florida, 69-71
    King, Ernest J., 30-31
    Korean War, 61-63
    Krock, Arthur, 51-52

    Lowenthal,, Max, 8-9

    MacArthur, Douglas, 65-66, 68-69
    McGowan, Carl, 84
    McIntyre, Marvin, 33
    Marshall, George C., 30
    Milligan, Jacob L.(Tuck), 6
    Milligan, Maurice, 92
    Murphy, Charles, 75

    National Security Council, 62-63
    NSC-68 (National Security Council paper), 62-64

    Patton, George, 68
    Pendergast, Thomas, 6-8
    Perlmeter, Irving, 53
    press conferences, value of, 33-34
    Pulitzer, John, 20, 46

    Reinsch, J. Leonard, 41-42
    Roosevelt, Franklin D., and press conferences, 26-28, 31-32, 34-35, 90

      and health of, 19-25
      and Truman Committee, 12
    Rosenman, Samuel I., 59
    Ross, Charles, 5, 9-10, 25, 37-39, 48, 51-53, 74

    St. Louis Post Dispatch, 6, 9-11, 16-18, 58, 60, 71
    Short, Joseph, 49-53
    Smith, Merriman, 49-50
    Souers, Sidney, 57, 62-63
    Stevenson, Adlai, 40, 77-84

    Taft, Robert A., 87, 92-94
    Truman Committee, 6
    Truman, Harry S.:

      accomplishments, 87-88
      and Brandt, Raymond P., interviews with, 39-40
      Democratic National Convention, of 1944, 10-11
      and Pendergast, Thomas, 6-8
      Presidential nomination, 1952, declaration not to seek, 73-76
      and the press, 19, 26-29
      and press conferences, 29-30, 32-35
      "red-herring", 29, 36
      and St. Louis Post Dispatch, 9-10, 16-19
      and Truman Committee, 8, 11-13
      as Vice-President, 14-15
      Vice-Presidential nomination in 1944, 11, 15
      and Yalta agreement, 89-90
    Tubby, Roger, 53-54

    Vardaman, James K., Jr., (Jake), 56-58
    Vaughan, Harry H., 60

    Wallace, Henry A., 14
    Wheeler, Burton K., 37
    Wilson, Charles E., 36

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