Read GOOD NEWS AND HARD WORK - NEWS AND GOVERNMENT - CHAPTER VI of Crowds A Moving-Picture of Democracy, free online book, by Gerald Stanley Lee, on


If news is governing, how does the President do his governing?

By being News, himself.

By using his appointing power and putting other men who are News Themselves, news about American human nature-where all the people will see it.

By telling the people directly (when he feels especially asked) news about what is happening in his mind-news about what he believes.

By telling the people sometimes (as candidly as he can without giving the people’s enemies a chance to stop him), what he is going to do next, sketching out in order of time, and in order of importance, his program of issues.

By telling the people news about their best business men, the business men and inventors who, in their daily business, free the energies, unshackle the minds and emancipate the genius of the people.

By telling these business men news about the people-and interpreting the people to them.

It is by being news to the people himself that all the other news a President can get into his government counts.

A man is a man according to the amount of news there is in him.

There are twenty personal traits in a President which of themselves would all be national news of the first importance if he had them.  The bare fact that a President could have certain traits at all and still get to be a President in this country, would be news.

One of the most important facts about news is that while it can be distributed by machines, machines cannot make it, and as a rule they do not understand it.  Important and critical news is almost always fresh and made by hand the first time.  Most of the popular news as to what is practical in American polities for the last forty years has been produced by political machines, and of course men who were a good deal like machines were the best men to finish the ideas off and to carry them out.

As a result of course, all the really big leaders for the last forty years, our most powerful and interesting personalities have been shut out from being President of the United States.  The White House was merely being run as machinery and did not interest them.  They watched it grinding its ideas faithfully out from year to year of what America was like and what American politicians were like, and finally at last in the clatter of the machines there rings out suddenly across the land a shot that no machinery had allowed for.  Before any one knows almost there slips suddenly by the side door into the White House a really interesting man, and suddenly, all in one minute, almost, this man makes being President of the United States the most interesting lively and athletic feat in the country.  And now, apparently that the idea has been worked out in public before everybody, by hand, as it were, that a man can be alive and interesting all over, can have at least a little touch of news about him and still be a President in this country, another man with some news in him has been allowed to us and suddenly politics throughout all America has become a totally new revealing profession, and men, instead of being selected because they were blurred personalities, the ghosts of compromises, would-be everybodies-men who had not decided who they were, and who could not settle down and let people know which of their characters they had hit on at last to be really theirs, men who had no cutting edge to do things, screw-drivers trying to be chisels-were revealed to our people at last as vague, mean, other-worldly persons, not fitting into our real American world at all, and hopelessly visionary and impracticable in American politics.

And now one more hand-made man has been allowed to us.

The machines run very still in the White House.

The people of this country no longer go by the White House on their way to their business and just hear it humdrumming and humdrumming behind the windows as of yore.  The nation stands in crowds around the gates and would like to see in.  The people wonder.  They wonder a million columns a day what is inside.

What is inside?

An American who governs by being news, himself.

The first thing that the people demand from our President now is that he shall be news himself.  The news that they have selected to know first during the next four years-have put into the White House to know first is Woodrow Wilson.

“Who are you, Woodrow Wilson, in God’s name?” the steeples and smoking chimneys, the bells and whistles, the Yales and Harvards, and the little country schools, the crowds in the streets, and the corn in the fields all say, “Who Are You?”

Then the people listen.  They listen to his “I wills” and “I won’ts” for news about him.  They look for news about him in the headlines he steers into the papers every morning, in the events he makes happen, in the editorials he makes men think of, in the men he calls up and puts on the National Wire-in all these, slowly, daily, hourly they drink up their long, patient, hopeful answer to their question, “Who Are You, Woodrow Wilson?”