I wrote about how, politically, former President Ford represented the end of an era. But there is another way in which he differed from his successors — he actually liked the company of reporters. Thanks to his quarter-century in what was and still is a very accessible House, Ford came to office with many friends in the Fourth Estate. Indeed, when he was Minority Leader, Ford held regular briefings with his fellow Midwestern Republican leader in other body, Illinois Sen. Everett Dirksen, that became known as the “Ev and Jerry Show.” Such collegialty with the press corps (his first WH spokesman was a former reporter) no doubt helped smooth Ford’s transition into the presidency and probably aided his legacy after leaving office.
To get a glimpse of the sort of access Ford was willing to provide, true political junkies should pick up a book by John Hersey. The title says it all: “The President: A Minute-by-Minute Account of a Week in the Life of Gerald Ford.” For an entire week in 1975, Hersey was able, with few exceptions, to sit in the Oval Office and watch Ford and his team at work. Not surprisingly, it’s a fairly positive portrayal. It’s also one worth checking out if for no other reason than to see how times have changed.