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History Happy Hour: The Press & The Presidency: A Complicated History

The Press & The Presidency: A Complicated History

May 24, 2018  |  6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.  | The Willard Room at the Willard InterContinental

Often complex, presidential-press relations have evolved as the mediums for communicating news has grown. From the proliferation of newspapers, and the rise of a more informative, less partisan press in the 1800s, to the popularity of yellow journalism, a style of reporting that focused on sensationalism over fact in 1895, to radio broadcast in the 1920s, and TV newscasts in the late 1940s, to the introduction of social media in 2000, every U.S. president has had to navigate the complexities of the ever changing media landscape, working to establish effective ways to communicate to the public and the press.  For many presidents, their relationship with the press has been a tumultuous one.

From the 1798 Sedition Act, signed into law by John Adams, which made criticism of the government illegal, to Thomas Jefferson referring to newspapers as “that polluted vehicle”, to William Howard Taft’s limited interaction with the press, and Richard Nixon referring to the press as “enemies”, the war on the media by The White House is not a new concept but has been an underlying constant since the nation’s early days.

Yet, many presidents have also had a positive relationship with the media. From Teddy Roosevelt talking to reporters during his morning shave, to Woodrow Wilson beginning the first presidential press conference, to Herbert Hoover formally establishing the position of press secretary in 1929, to FDR’s informal gatherings with media at his desk, to Truman’s addition of an auditorium for press briefings in the West Wing, and Jimmy Carter’s bi-monthly meetings with out-of-town journalists, the relationship between the presidency and the press has evolved over time and has assisted in advancing American diplomacy.

Join Jim Hewes, renowned bartender at the historic Willard InterContinental, and Scott Williams, Chief Operations Officer at the Newseum, for History Happy Hour: The Press & The Presidency where they will examine the history and complexity of the relationship between The White House and the media over the past two centuries.

In Conversation with:

Jim Hewes, Bartender, Round Robin Bar
Throughout his 30 years of working at the famed Round Robin Bar at the Willard InterContinental, Jim has established an internationally acclaimed reputation for not only his cocktails but for the history lessons he provides to patrons of the bar. “Jim Hewes is a walking DC History Channel and he makes a great Mint Julep,” says a frequent bar-goer. “Come for the drinks, stay for the history lesson.” Google Jim Hewes, Round Robin Bar, and nearly 11k search results appear. 90% of those search results speak to the famed mixologist that he is and the strong command of U.S. history that he possesses. A winner of DC Craft Bartender’s Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2017 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, Jim has become as synonymous with the Round Robin Bar as the bar is with the Willard InterContinental.

Scott Williams, Chief Operating Officer, Newseum
Scott Williams is the chief operating officer of the Newseum. Williams earned his degree in journalism from the University of Memphis. He then held positions at several advertising agencies and other organizations, including ServiceMaster, Inc., Baptist Memorial Health Care and Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. He currently serves on the board of the D.C. chapter of the American Advertising Federation and on the board of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. Passionate about discovering and sharing forgotten stories from the past, in his spare time he explores the history of the American south, especially around his home in West Tennessee. In 2017, Williams’ published his second book, “An Odd Book: How the First Modern Pop Culture Reporter Conquered New York.”

Tickets: $49 per person (21 yrs old +) Admission includes (3) cocktails and light appetizers. Tickets required.


About History Happy
Held monthly, this two-hour event distills American history through cocktails, while also providing attendees a hands-on class on the art of cocktail making. Led by Jim Hewes, a venerable mixologist and legendary bartender at The Willard’s iconic Round Robin Bar for over thirty years, and featuring rotating historians, authors, and journalists, History Happy Hour offers a mixology lesson “straight up” with history “served long”, a perfect pairing for cocktail aficionados and history buffs.