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The President and the Press

Capitalizing on his success as a war-hero and courting the American press, Theodore Roosevelt saw his way to the Vice Presidency under President William McKinley in 1897. And it was McKinley's assassination in 1901 that ushered Roosevelt into the Presidency. Once there, however, he used the press to advance his issue agenda which emphasized regulating monopolies and protecting the environment. Both reflecting and fueling an increased national attention to conservation, Roosevelt championed the movement throughout his presidency, as shown in a conservation timeline, which also speaks to the media's coverage of Roosevelt's efforts. In his Seventh Annual Message, Roosevelt went so far as to assert that "the conservation of our natural resources and their proper use constitute the fundamental problem which underlies almost every other problem of our National life," thereby defining conservation as a primary component of national policy.

Roosevelt easily secured re-election in 1904. His tenure in office was a harbinger of the important influence the American media would have on political issues and the political fortunes of future presidents. Do you think Roosevelt's approach to conservation shaped the American political and social, as well as natural, landscapes? Would Roosevelt have been as successful a conservationist or president without media coverage? Did the media ever adversely affect this President or his causes? What is the role of the media in today's political arena?

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