The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: November 2013
Duration: 16 hours 4 minutes
Doris’s next work is about Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Era—a heady, optimistic era when reform was in the air, when the government began for the first time to shed its laissez faire attitude toward the gigantic trusts that were rapidly swallowing up their competitors in one field or another, and when voices were beginning to be raised against the squalid conditions in the immigrant slums and the tenement factories, the unsafe working environments, the diseased foods and fake medicines that flooded an unregulated market.
Just as Doris found a fresh approach to FDR by focusing on the relationship between him and Eleanor, and with Lincoln, the president and his rivals, she focuses here on the story of the broken friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, culminating in their running against one another for president in 1912. The story of these two men is not only dramatic; it had significant historical consequences. TR chose Taft as his successor, managed his campaign, and felt as joyous about his victory as if it were his own. TR’s decision to challenge Taft in 1912 destroyed both men’s chances of election, elected Woodrow Wilson, and diminished the progressive wing of the Republican Party.
The bully pulpit played a central role in TR’s success and Taft’s failure. It led Goodwin to the muckrakers, a crusading faction of the press, which launched popular exposes of monopolies, political bosses, millionaire senators, fraudulent railroads, unsafe railroads and inflationary tariffs. TR credited it with changing the nation's politics.
The muckraking press is portrayed through the celebrated staff at McClure’s magazine. Sam McClure was a larger than life character. The team included Ida Tarbell, Lincoln Steffens and William Allen White, household names captivated by the personality of Teddy Roosevelt and in service to his cause.