Gerald Ford and the transparent presidency

Was Gerald Ford our first (and probably only) radically transparent president? Eat the Press has some amusing background.

Ford is probably best remembered as a klutz, even though he was in fact quite athletic. He has Chevy Chase to thank for the legacy, but Ford always played along.

He explained in his book, “I believe it is always better to err on the side of more exposure and access rather than less. At that time, the media and the general public still resented any hint of ‘imperial’ trappings in connection with the presidency or the White House.”

Ford’s best comeback to Chase came at the annual Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner in 1975.

When emcee Bob Hope introduced him, Ford got up from the table, “accidentally” caught the tablecloth in his trousers and dumped silverware in Chase’s lap.

As he approached the podium, he pretended to trip, prompting the pages of the speech he was carrying to fly into the audience.

When he got to the microphone and the laughter began to diminish, Ford reached into his coat pocket, pulled out the real script and said, “Good evening. I’m Gerald Ford and you’re not.”

So did Ford’s transparency help or hurt him?

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