Joe McGinniss: 1942-2014

selling-president

Nixon had refused the teleprompter from the start. He kept all the figures—crime rising nine times as fast … 300 cities … 200 dead … 7,000 injured … 43 percent of the American people afraid … He kept them all in his head, like the date of the Battle of Hastings.

Now he was starting again: “As we enter the last few days of the nineteen sixty-eight campaign, there is one issue on which there is a critical difference of opinion between the two candidates and that’s on the issue of law and order in the United States. Mr. Humphrey pledges that he will continue the policies of the last—”

He stopped.

“I don’t like that, either,” he said. “Let’s—We’ll do another one here.”

Again, three beeps from the machine. Richard Nixon sat at the edge of the desk, looking at the floor. He rested his chin on his fist.

-Journalist Joe McGinniss, from The Selling of the President 1968, hailed as one of the classic books about the modern marketing of a presidential candidate. McGinniss, who also wrote books including Fatal Vision, died Monday at age 71 from complications related to prostate cancer.

***

Photo source

The staff of Longreads.
Get the Longreads Weekly Email

Sign up to receive the Top 5 Longreads of the week, delivered every Friday.