Jimmy Carter, the first Social Media President? Sure, why not? Because on March 5, 1977 Jimmy Carter did something that no other Chief Executive had done before him: host his own Ask Me Anything.
With CBS commentator and anchorman Walter Cronkite sitting next to him, President Carter fielded 42 questions (selected from over 9 million calls) from United States citizens ranging from the gasoline tax to Uganda to the Yankees playing an exhibition match in Cuba - with no screening and no prepared notes.
It was a one of a kind event, as Walter Cronkite noted in his introduction:
This is a unique occasion, in the sense that it marks a new approach to communication between the President and the people of the United States. It is indeed historic--unique, historic--and we must also say an experiment since the President has never taken part before in this sort of a broadcast.
The event was so unique, in fact, that it never happened again. Which is kind of a shame because it seemed like a good idea. Such a good idea, in fact, that Reddit would popularize this type of Q&A session over 40 years later.
The event made headlines which, in turn, made it ripe for parody. Which is exactly where the newest and hippest late night program to hit the American airwaves in years would step in. For it was exactly a week after President Carter's broadcast, March 12, 1977, that Saturday Night Live aired a hilariously on target parody of Carter's chat session. With Bill Murray playing Walter Cronkite to Dan Ackroyd's on target Jimmy Carter (even if he would refuse to shave his moustache). the skit perfectly skewered the events of the week before, tuned, naturally, to the hippie generation.
Also in this episode, we discuss the latest staff shuffles in as President Trump continues to drain the swamp, discuss the possibilities of taking TITP back to the 1800s with reading presidential telegrams, and Scott shivers in the aftermath of The Beast from the East.
Be sure to pick up a copy of Harmon's new book, Meet the Deplorables, now available on Amazon. While you're there, also be sure to check out LBJ's 1968, just published by Cambridge University Press. It's got two of our favorite subjects: LBJ and 1968, so you can't really go wrong.
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