Tuesday, 6 November 2018

the pulse of events

On this day in 1947, the longest running series of televised history, scripted or otherwise, aired its pilot on the NBC from the network’s Washington, DC bureau. Meet the Press creator and moderator Martha Roundtree’s inaugural interview (she had previously honed the programme’s format on radio since 1945) was with former US Postmaster General and chairman of the Democratic National Committee James Aloysius Farley. Holding offices more influential and consequential than one might expect, Farley was an interesting character, who voiced strong opposition to the break with tradition on the part of Franklin Roosevelt in seeking a third term as president, subsequently championing the national constitutional referendum for the twenty second amendment that established term limits and defined eligibility to hold high office.
Farley also disagreed with Roosevelt’s 1937 decision to “pack” the Supreme Court, a judicial tool to augment the character of the court by adding extra justices and thus protect reforms enacted under the New Deal that might have otherwise been challenged and reversed by a more conservative-leaning body, as undemocratic. Beforehand, the accomplished statesman and party boss helped overturn Prohibition and made significant strides towards enfranchisement by supporting civil rights and transforming the Democratic party into one of inclusion. After retirement from government, Farley became a senior executive with a large soft-drink concern, remaining with them for over three decades, and lobbied for his beverage to be handled as a “war priority item” along with other provisions and ammunition in order to boost the morale and energy and help rebuild Europe. The soft-drink was established in international markets at government expense. The weekly forum has featured many prominent guests, including every president since JFK, Fidel Castro at the start of his rule in 1959 and featured the first live trans-Atlantic interview via communications satellite with British Prime Minster Harold Wilson. The opening music package features a suite composed by John Williams called “The Mission,” with the title referring to the final, signature part of the movement—reserved for Meet the Press and Special Reports.