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Gerald Ford was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977. After his tenure's end, Ford was active in the public sphere, traveling, writing a memoir, and voicing his opinion about contemporary issues within the United States and abroad.

Early activities[edit]

The Nixon pardon controversy eventually subsided. Ford's successor, Jimmy Carter, opened his 1977 inaugural address by praising the outgoing President, saying, "For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land."[1] After leaving the White House, the Ford's moved to Denver, Colorado. Ford successfully invested in oil with Marvin Davis, which later provided an income for Ford's children.[2] He continued to make appearances at events of historical and ceremonial significance to the nation, such as presidential inaugurals and memorial services. In January 1977, he became the president of Eisenhower Fellowships in Philadelphia, then served as the chairman of its board of trustees from 1980 to 1986.[3] Later in 1977, he reluctantly agreed to be interviewed by James M. Naughton, a New York Times journalist who was given the assignment to write the former President's advance obituary, an article that would be updated prior to its eventual publication.[4] In 1979, Ford published his autobiography, A Time to Heal (Harper/Reader's Digest, 454 pages). A review in Foreign Affairs described it as, "Serene, unruffled, unpretentious, like the author. This is the shortest and most honest of recent presidential memoirs, but there are no surprises, no deep probings of motives or events. No more here than meets the eye."[5]

During the term of office of his successor, Jimmy Carter, Ford received monthly briefs by President Carter's senior staff on international and domestic issues, and was always invited to lunch at the White House whenever he was in Washington, D.C. Their close friendship developed after Carter had left office, with the catalyst being their trip together to the funeral of Anwar el-Sadat in 1981.[6] Until Ford's death, Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, visited the Fords' home frequently.[7] Ford and Carter served as honorary co-chairs of the National Commission on Federal Election Reform in 2001 and of the Continuity of Government Commission in 2002.

Like Presidents Carter, George H. W. Bush, and Clinton, Ford was an honorary co-chair of the Council for Excellence in Government, a group dedicated to excellence in government performance, which provides leadership training to top federal employees. He also devoted much time to his love of golf, often playing both privately and in public events with comedian Bob Hope, a longtime friend. In 1977, he shot a hole in one during a Pro-am held in conjunction with the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic at Colonial Country Club in Memphis, Tennessee. He hosted the Jerry Ford Invitational in Vail, Colorado from 1977 to 1996.

In 1977, Ford established the Gerald R. Ford Institute of Public Policy at Albion College in Albion, Michigan, to give undergraduates training in public policy. In April 1981, he opened the Gerald R. Ford Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the north campus of his alma mater, the University of Michigan,[8] followed in September by the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.[9][10]

In October 1977, Ford traveled to New Jersey to campaign for gubernatorial candidate Raymond Bateman to replace Brendan Byrne as Governor of New Jersey. Ford used his appearances to criticize the policies of both Bryne and President Carter.[11]

In August 1980, Ford traveled to Tokyo to participate in a seminar for the twentieth anniversary of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan and meet with Prime Minister of JapanZenko Suzuki for international discussions.[12]



Ford considered a run for the Republican nomination in 1980, foregoing numerous opportunities to serve on corporate boards to keep his options open for a rematch with Carter. Ford attacked Carter's conduct of the SALT II negotiations and foreign policy in the Middle East and Africa. Many have argued that Ford also wanted to exorcise his image as an "Accidental President" and to win a term in his own right. Ford also believed the more conservative Ronald Reagan would be unable to defeat Carter and would hand the incumbent a second term. Ford was encouraged by his former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger as well as Jim Rhodes of Ohio and Bill Clements of Texas to make the race. On March 15, 1980, Ford announced that he would forgo a run for the Republican nomination, vowing to support the eventual nominee.

After securing the Republican nomination in 1980, Ronald Reagan considered his former rival Ford as a potential vice-presidential runningmate, but negotiations between the Reagan and Ford camps at the Republican National Convention were unsuccessful. Ford conditioned his acceptance on Reagan's agreement to an unprecedented "co-presidency",[13] giving Ford the power to control key executive branch appointments (such as Kissinger as Secretary of State and Alan Greenspan as Treasury Secretary). After rejecting these terms, Reagan offered the vice-presidential nomination instead to George H. W. Bush.[14] Ford did appear in a campaign commercial for the Reagan-Bush ticket, in which he declared that the country would be "better served by a Reagan presidency rather than a continuation of the weak and politically expedient policies of Jimmy Carter".[15] On October 8, 1980, Ford said President Nixon's involvement in the general election potentially could negatively impact the Reagan campaign: "I think it would have been much more helpful if Mr. Nixon had stayed in the background during this campaign. It would have been much more beneficial to Ronald Reagan."[16] Reflecting on Carter's re-election campaign that year, Ford stated, "I sure didn't want Jimmy Carter to be president again in 1980 because I was very sour on his performance as president."[17]


Ford delivered an address at the 1988 Republican National Convention in defense of Vice President Bush against Democratic Party assertions that Bush had been absent in times of significance.[18]

In a September speech in Burlington, Vermont, Ford criticized Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis as having ideas without plans for their financing and stated the US would go bankrupt over the proposed healthcare plan of the Dukakis campaign.[19]

In October, Ford partnered with Carter to appear in advertisements created by J. Walter Thompson encouraging voter turnout.[20]


At the 1992 Republican National Convention, Ford compared the election cycle to his 1976 loss to Carter and urged attention be paid to electing a Republican Congress: "If it's change you want on Nov. 3, my friends, the place to start is not at the White House but in the United States' Capitol. Congress, as every school child knows, has the power of the purse. For nearly 40 years, Democratic majorities have held to the time-tested New Deal formula, tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect."[21]

In an October 1992 speech to community bankers in Rancho Mirage, Ford stressed the need for the 103rd United States Congress to relieve regulatory burdens on banks and said increased regulations had heightened the cost for institutions.[22]

Middle East[edit]

In January and February 1979, the Fords traveled to the Middle East for two weeks, the couple's first time ever traveling to the region. Ford's office announced the trip on January 14.[23]

Following the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat, Ford stated the sale of AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia had become more important to the stabilizing of the Middle East and said the Reagan administration would be required to strength relations with other Arab countries. He also predicted that the passage of President Reagan's proposal on the Saudi arms package would have a heightened chance of being approved by Congress due to Sadat's death.[24] In October 1981, during a joint interview with Carter, Ford stated that he believed peace could only be achieved in the Middle East with American recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization, breaking with the views espoused by President Reagan.[25]

After the 1983 resignation of Menachem Begin as Israeli Prime Minister, Ford told reporters ahead of attending a meeting on of presidential bipartisan commission on Central America that he hoped new leadership would bring about more flexible policies within the Middle East.[26]

In April 1984, during a press conference at Fairfield University, Ford charged the personal objectives of Lebanese leaders with hampering with efforts toward achieving peace within the Middle East and stated the Reagan administration was correct in choosing to remove troops from Lebanon.[27]

On January 30, 1991, in an address to students of the University of California, Irvine, Ford stated President of IraqSaddam Hussein should be purged of his position following allied forces prevailing against Iraqi troops as he believed it was "in the best interests of the Iraqi people".[28] Saddam would remain in his position until the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Views on successors[edit]

Jimmy Carter[edit]

On March 23, 1977, during a speech at the Union Club, Ford stated that the Soviet Union was engaging in a buildup that would worsen the chance for an arms accord. Ford's prepared text stated that Paul C. Warnke narrowly being confirmed as President Carter's chief negotiator on arms had been a warning to the Soviet Union on its continued buildup.[29] The following day, Ford returned to Washington and met with President Carter.[30] On August 16, Ford stated his support for the Carter administration's Panama Canal agreement, saying that he was convinced the treaty's approval would be "in the national interest of the United States" and urged quick approval by the Senate.[31] On October 19, Ford delivered an address to a group of business economists at the Pierre Hotel, calling on the Carter administration to pursue a $20 billion to $25 billion annual tax cut immediately.[32]

On February 19, 1978, Ford advocated that Carter invoke the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 to assist with quelling the coal crisis, which he stated would benefit Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections should it persist.[33] On April 6, while attending a Republican Party fundraiser dinner in Los Angeles, Ford stated the national defense program had not been fully funded under the administration of his immediate successor and the consequence had been the encouragement of the expansion of communism through both actual and believed weaknesses within the military.[34] On December 13, during a speech at a luncheon meeting of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, Ford stated that Congress "is just not prepared for crisis management" of American foreign policy and sympathized with Carter over troubles pertaining to the economy and other branches of the government.[35]

On October 3, 1980, Ford cast blame on Carter for the latter's charges of ineffectiveness on the part of the Federal Reserve Board due to his appointing of most of its members: "President Carter, when the going gets tough, will do anything to save his own political skin. This latest action by the president is cowardly."[36]

On January 19, 1981, during a speech, Ford stated that he was in favor of the $9 billion being offered by the Carter administration to return the hostages in the Iran hostage crisis and said President-elect Reagan would take the oath of office the following day " and inherit a full platter of difficult problems, including runaway stagflation, the dangers of military weakness and dependence on foreign oil."[37]

Ronald Reagan[edit]

Following the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, Ford told reporters while appearing at a fundraiser for Thomas Kean that criminals who use firearms should get the death penalty in the event someone is injured with the weapon.[38] On March 23, 1981, Ford met with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping to transmit a message on the part of the Reagan administration that the new presidency would not see a departure of the past working relationship between the United States and China.[39] In May 1981, Ford attended a luncheon organized by Peter Pocklington, advocating those attending become involved in politics to ensure Canada adopted free enterprise enabling policies in a similar manner to attempt by President Reagan to cut regulations.[40] On May 12, 1981, Ford called for the United States, the Soviet Union, and other countries to work toward avoiding what "could be a flash point of an outbreak of military conflict on a broad scale" within the Middle East.[41] In August 1981, Ford stated that Reagan's advisors did not tamper anything in their delay to inform the president of the assault by Libyan jets on U.S. fighter planes, furthering that he was not in a position to criticize them and that President Reagan would have been notified were the attack to have been more costly.[42] In September 1981, Ford advised Reagan against succumbing to Wall Street demands and follow his own agenda for the economic policies of the US during an appearance on Good Morning America: "He shouldn't let the gurus of Wall Street decide what the economic future of this country is going to be. They are wrong in my opinion."[43] On October 14, Ford stated his disapproval for the House of Representatives voting against the Reagan administration's $8.5 billion Saudi arms package and his support for Reagan's economic policy, stating that Reagan "inherited an economic mess from his predecessor, and it needed shock therapy. In six months the economy should be turning upward."[44] On October 20, 1981, Ford stated stopping the Reagan administration's Saudi arms package could have a large negative impact to American relations in the Middle East during a news conference.[45] On November 12, in response to a published story in which Budget Director David Stockman referred to President Reagan's tax cut program as a "Trojan horse" effort to assist the wealthy, Ford stated that Stockman's inexperience had led him to "let his conversation run away." He also asserted that the comments would not hinder President Reagan's economic recovery program, which in his view would be vindicated with the passage of time should Americans approve of it.[46] On December 11, Ford met with President Reagan in the Oval Office for discussions on Libyan threats against the United States and how the latter's administration would counter it. While speaking to reporters afterward, Ford stated that he believed the administration could achieve a balanced budget and "should set a goal and say we're going to have a balanced budget in 1983, 1984 or 1985."[47]

In January 1982, Ford delivered an address to the Houston Republican Club in which he predicted the economy would see an improvement by the middle of the year in the event that President Reagan honor past pledges and not "flip-flop like his predecessors."[48] On February 1, Ford stated that he was in favor of the New Federalism proposal by the Reagan administration and Reaganomics would come into effect soon enough for Republican candidates to be benefited during the midterms that year.[49] On March 24, 1982, Ford offered an endorsement of President Reagan's economic policies while also stating the possibility of Reagan being met with a stalemate by Congress if not willing to compromise while in Washington.[50] On April 1, during an interview in New York City, Ford advocated that the Reagan administration implement the trimming of outlays for major new weapons systems and rejected claims that modest slowdown in nuclear weapon delivery would tamper national security as "hogwash".[51] Days later, during a speech, Ford stated the Reagan administration would be better suited deterring aggression with "a margin of superiority in national security" as opposed to President Reagan's proposed arm buildups.[52] In May, while speaking to reporters during his attendance of a Home Builders Association of Maryland political fundraiser, Ford stated his optimism for Congress to arrive at a budget compromise: "They muddle around in the Congress, but they always seem to get the job done."[53] In July, while speaking to the Forum Club of Houston, Ford expressed his differences with President Reagan's proposed balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and said the only way to prevent budget deficits was through electing members of Congress that would not be in favor of spending beyond the revenue of the government.[54] In November, while addressing a crowd at Salem State College, Ford stated the only issue Americans were facing was a slow economy that would be reversed eventually and his views that the election would not be repudiation of Reaganomics but that the conclusion would move both parties "toward the center."[55]

In April 1983, Ford attended a civics lecture and question-and-answer session at Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics, where he stated his support for the Reagan administration's economic policies and that the US faced the possibility of an economic recovery.[56]

In April 1984, while in Farmington, Connecticut, Ford advocated for the withdrawal of United States Attorney General nominee Edwin Meese in the aftermath of criticism leveled at Meese's finances and said that he faced similar trials in the confirmation of nominees during his own presidency. Ford also stated, "I think there have been more individuals than I would have liked who have been careless in how they handled certain activities. I don't think anything criminal has been done, but there has been a degree of carelessness which I don't think should be condoned."[57]

On June 22, 1985, Ford was among four former western heads of state to voice support for President Reagan's decision to not comply with terrorists in Beirut that were holding American hostages.[58]

In an August 6, 1987 interview with David Frost, Ford stated that the Iran-Contra Affair was not as serious as Watergate but that he would not have swapped arms for hostages and overruled his Secretaries of State and Defense.[59]

Bill Clinton[edit]

In August 1993, Ford joined President Clinton for golf in Vail, Colorado, Ford telling reporters that he shared similar views with the incumbent president on the North American Free Trade Agreement and would assist in any way he could in securing its passage.[60] On September 14, Ford attended a White House ceremony to promote the North American Free Trade Agreement and warned that not passing NAFTA would guarantee a wave of illegal immigration into the United States: "If you defeat Nafta, you have to share the responsibility for increased immigration to the United States, where they want jobs that are presently being held by Americans."[61]

After the impeachment of Bill Clinton, Ford and Carter wrote an op-ed for the New York Times calling on the president to be censured in a bipartisan resolution.[62]

In April 1999, Ford stated that President Clinton had made mistakes in his response to Kosovo, faulting Clinton for having an only military air campaign and not foreseeing the event.[63]

In May 2000, Ford made a joint appearance with Carter and Clinton for support of the Clinton administration's trade deal with China.[64]

Health problems[edit]

In February 1983, Ford underwent arthroscopic surgery at the Eisenhower Medical Center for the treating of a football injury.[65]

In June 1983, Ford underwent elective urologic surgery at Eisenhower Medical Center.[66][67]

On April 4, 1990, Ford was admitted to Eisenhower Medical Center for surgery to replace his left knee, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Murphy saying "Ford's entire left knee was replaced with an artificial joint, including portions of the adjacent femur, or thigh bone, and tibia, or leg bone."[68]

Ford suffered two minor strokes at the 2000 Republican National Convention, but made a quick recovery after being admitted to Hahnemann University Hospital.[69][70] In January 2006, he spent 11 days at the Eisenhower Medical Center near his residence at Rancho Mirage, California, for treatment of pneumonia.[71] On April 23, 2006, President George W. Bush visited Ford at his home in Rancho Mirage for a little over an hour. This was Ford's last public appearance and produced the last known public photos, video footage, and voice recording.

While vacationing in Vail, Colorado, Ford was hospitalized for two days in July 2006 for shortness of breath.[72] On August 15 he was admitted to St. Mary's Hospital of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for testing and evaluation. On August 21, it was reported that he had been fitted with a pacemaker. On August 25, he underwent an angioplasty procedure at the Mayo Clinic. On August 28, Ford was released from the hospital and returned with his wife Betty to their California home. On October 13, he was scheduled to attend the dedication of a building of his namesake, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, but due to poor health and on the advice of his doctors he did not attend. The previous day, Ford had entered the Eisenhower Medical Center for undisclosed tests; he was released on October 16.[73] By November 2006, he was confined to a bed in his study.[74]

Other activities[edit]

In June 1981, officials of Dartmouth College stated Ford and Lady Bird Johnson would serve as co-chairs of the fundraising committee for the Rockefeller Center for the Social Sciences.[75]

On August 16, 1981, while speaking to the Louisiana Retail Food Dealers Association, Ford stated the prosecution of the 12,000 striking members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization for criminal contempt would be overzealous on the part of the Justice Department.[76]

In October 1981, Ford joined President Reagan and Bob Hope for a Washington event commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the United Service Organization.[77]

On March 14, 1982, following a visit to Kuwait and attending a board meeting of the Santa Fe International Corporation, Ford stated that he was willing to meet with Yasir Arafat on the condition that Arafat "recognize that any such meeting would mean an admission on his part that Israel would be recognized by him and his people." Ford also clarified that he would not be representing the United States.[78]

In April 1982, during an appearance at the annual meeting luncheon of Fidelity Trust Company of Toronto, Ford stated that he was convinced the United States would assist Great Britain in the event that the invasion of the Falkland Islands resulted in war and voiced approval for the US's role in the conflict as a way of "exerting maximum effort to avoid a military confrontation."[79]

Ford founded the annual AEI World Forum in 1982, and joined the American Enterprise Institute as a distinguished fellow. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate at Central Connecticut State University[80] on March 23, 1988.

During an August 1982 fundraising reception, Ford stated his opposition to a constitution amendment requiring the US to have a balanced budget, citing a need to elect "members of the House and Senate who will immediately when Congress convenes act more responsibly in fiscal matters."[81]

Ford was a participant in the 1982 midterm elections. In March, Ford endorsed Connecticut Senator Lowell P. Weicker Jr. and raised 50,000 USD for the Weicker campaign in addition to attending a fundraising dinner that was noted as allowing Weicker to counter claims by his opponent Prescott Bush, Jr. that he was without proper standing within the Republican Party.[82] In October, Ford traveled to Tennessee to help Republican candidates in the state.[83] Ford spent part of that month campaigning for Jon S. Fossel and criticized the record of his opponent Richard L. Ottinger as being indicative of wanting massive spending on the part of the government.[84] He also traveled to Pekin, Illinois to advocate for the re-election of Robert Michel who he stated voting for was administering a medicine for the economy's recovery. By that time, he espoused the view that Republicans would retain control of the Senate while losing some governorships and seats in the House of Representatives.[85]

On February 10, 1983, Ford and Carter made a joint appearance at the Ford Presidential Library in their capacities as co-chairmen of a conference on public policy and communications, Ford stating that the complexity of contemporary issues was widening a gap between the President and Americans thanks to media seeking out entertainment and public opinion polls answered by lobbyists that reflect the views espoused by special interest groups.[86]

On February 28, 1983, Ford appeared with former presidents Carter and Nixon at a reception celebrating the service of Hyman G. Rickover and the launch of the Rickover Foundation, Ford stating during the appearance that Rickover had made the country more secure.[87]

In January 1984, a letter signed by Ford and Carter and urging world leaders to extend their failed effort to end world hunger was released and sent to Secretary-General of the United NationsJavier Pérez de Cuéllar.[88]

On April 10, 1984, Ford endorsed Elliot Richardson in his senatorial bid in Massachusetts, calling him the most qualified of the candidates.[89] Richardson went on to lose the election.

In May 1984, 1984 Republican National Convention manager Ron Walker stated that President Reagan had spoken with Ford via a phone call and that the latter would be in attendance to the convention.[90]

In September 1986, Ford participated in a two-day seminar at the Gerald R. Ford Symposium to mark the fifth anniversary of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and raise funds.[91]

In 1987, Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of District of Columbia Circuit Court judge and former Solicitor GeneralRobert Bork after Bork was nominated by President Reagan to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.[92] Bork's nomination was rejected by a vote of 58-42.[93]

In 1987 Ford's Humor and the Presidency, a book of humorous political anecdotes, was published.

By 1988, Ford was a member of several corporate boards including Commercial Credit, Nova Pharmaceutical, The Pullman Company, Tesoro Petroleum, and Tiger International, Inc.[94] Ford also became an honorary director of Citigroup, a position he held till his death.[95]

In October 1990, Ford appeared in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with Bob Hope to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the birth of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, where the two unveiled a plaque with the signatures of each living former president.[96]

In May 1991, Ford, in the capacity of being a private guest of the Formosa Plastics Group, met with President of TaiwanLee Teng-hui to convey a goodwill message on the part of President Bush. He became the first major American political figure to visit Taipei since 1979.[97]

In April 1991, Ford joined former presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter, in supporting the Brady Bill.[98] Three years later, he wrote to the U.S. House of Representatives, along with Carter and Reagan, in support of the assault weapons ban.[99]

In April 1997, Ford joined President Bill Clinton, former President Bush, and Nancy Reagan in signing the "Summit Declaration of Commitment" in advocating for participation by private citizens in solving domestic issues within the United States.[100]

On January 20, 1998, during an interview at his Palm Springs home, Ford said the Republican Party's nominee in the 2000 presidential election would lose if very conservative in their ideals: "If we get way over on the hard right of the political spectrum, we will not elect a Republican President. I worry about the party going down this ultra-conservative line. We ought to learn from the Democrats: when they were running ultra-liberal candidates, they didn't win."[101]

In the prelude to the impeachment of President Clinton, Ford conferred with former President Carter and the two agreed to not speak publicly on the controversy, a pact broken by Carter when answering a question from a student at Emory University.[102]

In February 2001, Ford appeared at Chapman University to comment on papers written by students about his presidency and to be presented the Global Citizen medal.[103]

In October 2001, Ford broke with conservative members of the Republican Party by stating that gay and lesbian couples "ought to be treated equally. Period." He became the highest ranking Republican to embrace full equality for gays and lesbians, stating his belief that there should be a federal amendment outlawing anti-gay job discrimination and expressing his hope that the Republican Party would reach out to gay and lesbian voters.[104] He also was a member of the Republican Unity Coalition, which The New York Times described as "a group of prominent Republicans, including former President Gerald R. Ford, dedicated to making sexual orientation a non-issue in the Republican Party".[105]

On November 22, 2004, New York Republican Governor George Pataki named Ford and the other living former Presidents (Carter, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton) as honorary members of the board rebuilding the World Trade Center.

In a pre-recorded embargoed interview with Bob Woodward of The Washington Post in July 2004, Ford stated that he disagreed "very strongly" with the Bush administration's choice of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction as justification for its decision to invade Iraq, calling it a "big mistake" unrelated to the national security of the United States and indicating that he would not have gone to war had he been President. The details of the interview were not released until after Ford's death, as he requested.[106][107]


In 1983, Robert Lindsey expressed the view that Ford had become "a kind of one-man academic, business and political conglomerate" in his retirement who was the most active of the then-current three former presidents (Nixon, Carter, and himself).[108]

Ford is credited with having started the pattern of former American presidents generating revenue through speeches.[109] His paid speeches drew criticism from Nixon who charged him with "selling the office."[110] Ford would defend his activities by stating that being a private citizen at the time of generating revenue from the addresses, "he could leverage his past however he pleased."[109] Richard Cohen stressed the lasting negative impact of Ford's participation with business boards: "He sold what they were buying, which was the prestige of the presidency. As a result, it has less and less."[111]


Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States, August 1974
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  21. ^Langford, Mark. "Ford warns Clinton victory would return America to Carter era". UPI. 
  22. ^Granelli, James S. (October 14, 1992). "Gerald Ford Assails Bank Regulations : Banking: Ex-President says paperwork, increased costs of supervision have crippled some institutions, especially the smaller ones. He says a new Congress could ease the strain". Los Angeles Times. 
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  27. ^"Former president Gerald Ford said Thursday the 'selfish personal..." UPI. April 5, 1984. 
  28. ^"Saddam Hussein Must Be Removed, Gerald Ford Tells Audience at UCI : Ex-Presidents: He appeared with France's former head of state Valery Giscard-d'Estaing". Los Angeles Times. January 31, 1991. 
  29. ^Bird, David (March 24, 1977). "FORD, IN CITY, WARNS OF SOVIET BUILDUP". New York Times. 
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  43. ^

Henry Luce, who was born in Tengchow, China, used to say he wished he’d been born in Oskaloosa, Iowa. “An American can always explain himself satisfactorily by citing where he comes from,” Luce said. He’d have given anything for a home town in the heartland. Oskaloosa is a mining town. Harold Ross, whose father was a miner, was born in Aspen. In 1923, Luce started Time, a magazine meant to “appeal to every man and woman in America.” Two years later, Ross launched The New Yorker, which he described—in a prospectus, in the inaugural issue, and on posters pasted all over New York—as the magazine that is “not edited for the old lady in Dubuque.” Dubuque is just a few hours’ drive from Oskaloosa and, compared with Tengchow, a mere stone’s throw from Ross’s ancestral seat. When Luce and Ross were starting out, their magazines occupied adjoining floors in a building at 25 West Forty-fifth Street, a thousand miles away from anywhere in Iowa. The distance between the editorial offices of Time and The New Yorker, though, was what’s called spitting.

After the first issue of The New Yorker came out, Time printed a squib inside an issue whose cover was a photograph of the fifty-one-year-old poet Amy Lowell, bespectacled and grandmotherly, her gray hair pinned up in a bun, sitting in an antique chair, reading. If you take the covers of the February 21, 1925, issue of The New Yorker and the March 2, 1925, issue of Time and place them side by side—which is a prank I wouldn’t put past any of the tenants of 25 West Forty-fifth Street—they make a nifty pair, Eustace Tilley affecting to peer over his monocle at the sturdy and sensible Miss Lowell, who, engrossed in her reading, doesn’t bother to look up. “In Dubuque, Iowa, there lives, doubtless, an old lady,” Time observed. “Her existence is recognized only because certain middle-aged people in Manhattan began some weeks ago to think about her. She came frequently into their conversation and, at each allusion, a leer passed round the company—all spoke in derisive terms of her taste, though the kinder-hearted merely pitied her for being the victim of an unfortunate environment.” The boys at Time pretended to have lately posted to this female Dubuquian in the twilight of life a copy of the magazine that was not edited on her behalf and to have received a telegram by way of reply. “The editors of the periodical you forwarded are, I understand, members of a literary clique,” she wired. “They should learn that there is no provincialism so blatant as that of the metropolitan who lacks urbanity.” This hit its mark. “Who was the stinker who wrote that?” Ross wanted to know. When he found out, he hired him on the spot.

Battles between magazine editors bloody the annals of literary history. In “The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century” (Knopf; $35), Alan Brinkley, the Columbia historian, dismisses the legendary feud between Luce and Ross as short-lived and silly, but it lasted for a quarter century, there have been sillier, and Ross, at least, took it about as seriously as he took anything. Brinkley’s wonderfully insightful and judicious biography is more than the story of a life; it’s a political history of modernity. Luce was one of the most influential journalists of the twentieth century. Time was the first news magazine. Fortune, which he launched in 1930, made business writing smarter. “The March of Time,” broadcast on the radio from 1931 to 1945 and shown in theatres, as newsreels, beginning in 1935, paved the way for television news. Life, started in 1936, brought photojournalism into the nation’s living rooms. “The American people are by far the best-informed people in the history of the world,” Luce wrote in his essay “The American Century,” in 1941, when Americans were getting much of that information from him and, mainly, from his magazines, which Ross couldn’t stomach, and whose significance he refused to concede. “Who reads Fortune?” Ross once asked. “Dentists.”

Luce insisted on the United States’ unique role in spreading democracy. He wrote “The American Century” to urge Roosevelt to enter the war, but it was seen by critics as a blueprint for American imperialism. In the nineteen-forties and fifties, his influence on public opinion, and especially on foreign policy, grew, as did his anti-Communist zeal, especially with regard to Asia. “As a journalist, I am in command of a small sector in the very front trenches of this battle for freedom,” Luce once said. He supported civil rights and opposed McCarthy. He called the Republican Party his “second church.” His magazines’ endorsement of Eisenhower helped carry the man from Abilene into office. Abroad, Luce was treated like a statesman. No private citizen should wield such power. Why anyone ever craves it can be hard to comprehend. Liberals who admired his magazines could not forgive him his support for American involvement in Vietnam. He died in 1967. Brinkley’s Luce is crusading and ambitious, ardent and awkward, and, although it might be said that Luce went astray when his ambition became his crusade, Brinkley takes him as he finds him. At the helm of the largest media empire in the world, Henry Luce piloted the American middle class through a century of tumult and change by giving his magazines, American journalism, and even American culture a distinctive voice: his own. That’s just what bugged the hell out of Harold Ross.

Ross was born in a prospector’s cabin, in 1892; Luce was born in 1898, in a missionary compound. Ross never finished high school; Luce went to Yale, like his father before him. A person could be forgiven for expecting Ross to have been the one to start the magazine edited for the old lady in Dubuque and Luce to have started the one that wasn’t. That just the reverse came to pass explains some of the waywardness between them. In 1917, Ross enlisted; Luce joined R.O.T.C., along with his friend Briton Hadden (they’d been inseparable since Hotchkiss and ran the Yale Daily News together). Luce and Hadden went to boot camp in South Carolina, where they trained troops. In France, Ross was tapped for Officer Training School, but flunked the test out of cussedness. Later in life, Ross liked to tell the story of how, on hearing that the Army was about to start publishing a paper, he deserted his regiment and walked a hundred and fifty miles to Paris, to the offices of the Stars & Stripes, where he stayed for the duration of the war, as a reporter and editor. One piece of enduring Luce lore has it that Time began because, while at Camp Jackson, Luce was struck by how little the enlisted men knew about the war they were being sent to fight. Brinkley suspects this boot-camp business is hooey, and I take the same view of Ross’s hoofing it all the way to Paris. What’s interesting, though, is that even their just-so stories run in different directions: Ross strapping his typewriter to his back and making for the metropolis, Luce pledging himself to bringing news of the world to every last Joe.

Neither Private Ross nor Lieutenant Luce ever saw combat. After the Armistice, Ross bummed around editorial posts in New York, including a brief stint at Judge, a humor magazine. Luce and Hadden went back to Yale, after deciding that, one day, they would start a magazine together. Luce graduated with highest honors; Hadden was voted the most likely to succeed. Luce studied at Oxford and later worked for newspapers in Chicago and Baltimore, where he met up with Hadden. By 1922, the year DeWitt Wallace started the Reader’s Digest, Luce, Hadden, and Ross were all in New York, pounding the pavement.

Luce and Hadden thought about calling their magazine Destiny, which hints at the size of their dream. They also tried out What’s What, and for a long time they called it Facts. What Time became is lavishly celebrated in “Time: The Illustrated History of the World’s Most Influential Magazine” (Rizzoli; $50), by Norberto Angeletti and Alberto Oliva. Luce came up with the name after a late-night subway ride, during which he found himself staring at an advertisement that read “Time for a Change.” “That’s it,” Hadden said. “Time” was perfect, since the magazine’s strategy was twofold: it would be a history of our time, chronicling the events of the day, and it would save readers time.

Magazines are ephemeral, timely at the expense of timelessness. They evanesce. Each new issue displaces the last; a magazine molts. Quite possibly the most un-magaziney thing that ever happened to magazines is the digital archive, as curious a collection of what was as jars of sharks’ teeth or boxes of hair swept from the barbershop floor. Magazines change or die; they are very rarely long-lived. Time and The New Yorker are among the exceptions, not only for lasting but also for not changing as much as most long-running magazines have. This can make both magazines look like throwbacks, if in different ways.

Time is an artifact of the Age of Efficiency. Americans, Luce and Hadden believed, were too busy to read the newspaper. The New York Times was “unreadable,” too dense, too dull. Time would be everything, abridged: a week’s worth of news in twenty-odd pages that could be read in an hour. An early bid for subscribers read “Take TIME: It’s Brief.” Each issue was to contain about a hundred articles, none more than four hundred words long. Luce and Hadden put together dummy issues by cutting sentences out of seven days’ worth of newspapers and pasting them onto pages. At first, Time was a kind of assembly-line news, manufactured in a Taylorized shop. But they wanted it to be more than a “digest” (the word has something alimentary in common with what’s now called a “feed”). They sorted the news into categories—National Affairs, Foreign Affairs, The Arts, Sport—which, amazingly, hadn’t been done before, or not nearly as crisply. “The one great thing was simplification,” Luce said. “Simplification by organization, simplification by condensation, and also simplification by just being damn well simple.” The Simplified Spelling Board, endorsed by Theodore Roosevelt, had excised the extra “e” from “abridgement.” Turning the Times into Time saved a letter right there. No wasted letters, no wasted thought. As Luce and Hadden explained in the magazine’s prospectus, “TIME is interested—not in how much it includes between its covers—but in HOW MUCH IT GETS OFF ITS PAGES INTO THE MINDS OF ITS READERS.”

Hadden, not Luce, was Times first editor. This had been decided in a coin toss. Luce ran the business. The idea was that they’d rotate. They agreed, though, that the magazine had to have a language of its own: Timestyle. “You’re writing for straphangers,” a former professor of theirs advised them. “You’ve got to write staccato.” Hadden marked up a translation of the Iliad, underscoring compound phrases, like “wine-dark sea.” (A “sea as dark as wine” dragged.) No longer did events take place “in the nick of time” but “in time’s nick.” Everything was epic. Homer is why Time’s story about the Scopes trial began this way: “The pens and tongues of contumely were arrested. Mocking mouths were shut. Even righteous protestation hushed its clamor, as when, having striven manfully in single combat, a high-helmed champion is stricken by Jove’s bolt and the two snarling armies stand at sudden gaze, astonished and bereft a moment of their rancor.” This is also a good example of what’s called a “blind lead,” a sort of swooping down from above, and out of nowhere. It could have been about anything. Times obituaries often began, “Death, as it must to all men, came last week to . . .” They could have been about anyone.

Hadden liked to coin words, compounds like “news-magazine.” He imported “tycoon,” “pundit,” and “kudos” into English. He filled a notebook with lists. Famed Phrases: “flabby-chinned.” Forbidden Phrases: “erstwhile” (use “onetime” instead). Unpardonable Offenses: failing to print someone’s nickname. He was fond of middle names, of inverted subject and predicate phrases, of occupations as titles: “famed poet William Shakespeare” and “Demagog Hitler.” (What next? one reader wanted to know. “Onetime evangelist Jesus Christ?”) Hadden was uncompromising and, not infrequently, explosive. His Timestyle manual listed his cardinal rules: “Be specific. Be impersonal. Appear to be fair. Be not redundant. Reduce to lowest terms. You cannot be too obvious.” Scowl-faced was Editor Hadden, forgotten mag-man, called by the boys “the Terrible-Tempered Mr. Bang.”

Times first issue was dated March 3, 1923. It took aim at the “supposedly elect” who ate lunch at the Algonquin Hotel: “What is this literary New York? Who are these log-rollers and back-scratchers?” The Round Table really was a bunch of log-rollers, catty and smirking, but it was also where Harold Ross was recruiting writers. He had put together a dummy issue of his magazine, but was finding it a hard sell. Ben Hecht asked, “How the hell could a man who looked like a resident of the Ozarks and talked like a saloon brawler set himself up as pilot of a sophisticated, elegant periodical?” After rejecting Manhattan and Our Town, Ross settled on a name. In the fall of 1924, he wrote a prospectus for The New Yorker. He had plenty of other influences, and a whole crop of ideas of his own, but it’s still striking how much it reads as a proposal for a magazine that would be everything Time wasn’t. Where Luce and Hadden had announced that Time would be edited “so that a mind trained or untrained can grasp it with minimum effort,” Ross explained that his magazine “will assume a reasonable degree of enlightenment on the part of its readers.” It would not save anyone any time; it would not spare anyone any effort. There would be goings on but it wasn’t going to be newsy. “As compared to the newspapers, The New Yorker will be interpretive rather than stenographic.” Ross expected The New Yorker to be distinguished for its wit, art, integrity, and discrimination. “It will hate bunk.” That old lady: “It will not be concerned in what she is thinking about. This is not meant in disrespect, but The New Yorker is a magazine avowedly published for a metropolitan audience.”

The first issue of The New Yorker wasn’t exactly a stunner. Its lead article, “The Story of Manhattankind,” was a flat-footed parody of a well-known children’s book, “The Story of Mankind.” In a column called Of All Things, Ross apologized: “THE NEW YORKER asks consideration for its first number. It recognizes certain shortcomings and realizes that it is impossible for a magazine fully to establish its character in one number.” But he didn’t back off. “It has announced that it is not edited for the old lady in Dubuque. By this it means that it is not of that group of publications engaged in tapping the Great Buying Power of the North American steppe region by trading mirrors and colored beads in the form of our best brands of hokum.”

When Hadden got hold of it, he called over one of his writers, his cousin Niven Busch. “Just look at this goddamned magazine. Goddamn it, the old lady from Dubuque is smarter than they are. . . . There’s your angle and make it plain the magazine won’t last.” Busch, rising to the task, wrote, “Last week, Manhattanites found the first issue of The New Yorker on their club tables, their hotel stands, their back-alley kiosks; they ruffled its pages, found it to contain one extremely funny original joke.”

Ross knew what he wanted; he just didn’t know how to get it. “If you can’t be funny, be interesting” was his advice to writers, but how helpful is that? The prose and verse of two hundred and eighty-two contributors appeared in The New Yorker in its first ten months. Possibly that wasn’t the best way to go about establishing its character. By summer, the magazine’s circulation—dropping to below three thousand—had become something of a municipal joke. The Evening World ran this item:

I found Mr. Manhattan reading the latest issue of “The Gothamite” when I dropped in at his apartment yesterday afternoon.

“So you’re the one who bought the copy,” I said.

Bereft of advertisers and needing to fill space, Ross asked Corey Ford to write a fictional “tour through the vast organization of The New Yorker,” this being just the kind of thing Time, whose circulation was skyrocketing, was forever doing—in earnest—as when, early on, it congratulated itself for having “built up the greatest, the largest, the soundest quality circulation in the history of U.S. publishing.”

Ford wrote:

Here it is Friday; and at a rough estimate there have been probably thirty or eighty millions of people who have bought THE NEW YORKER since last night; and the returns from Maine are not due till tomorrow. This means that if you add all these figures together and multiply them by the number you just thought of, then the card there in your hand is the eight of clubs.

Time Inc. once sent out a flyer: “TIME has given such attention to the development of the best narrative English that hundreds of editors and journalists have declared it to be the greatest creative force in modern journalism.” Ford’s “The Making of a Magazine” included an exposé called “The Construction of Our Sentences”: “Before a sentence may be used in THE NEW YORKER it must be cleaned and polished. The work of brightening these sentences is accomplished by a trained editorial staff of 5,000 men named Mr. March.” The New Yorker once ran a cartoon with the caption “But, Lester, is it enough just being against everything that ‘Time’ magazine is for?”

To subscribe is to sign up. People used to subscribe to books, and printers would print the list of subscribers as front matter, to woo buyers. To subscribe to a book was to endorse it; it was like supplying a blurb. Magazines don’t print lists of subscribers, but the principle is the same: to subscribe is to belong. (That’s one reason that surfing what can no longer be called “periodical literature”—now it’s interminable—feels so aimless: its premise is not belonging.) A magazine defines itself as one thing, and not another. Time was quirky in this way: if it was the magazine for everyone, what was it not? Well, actually, it wasn’t for everyone; that was flummery. Time puffed to advertisers that its subscribers were “America’s most important and interesting class—the Younger Business Executive.” A poll of subscribers conducted five years after Time began reported that more than eighty per cent of respondents were “plainly of the executive and professional class”; sixty-two per cent owned stocks and bonds; more than half had servants; more than forty per cent belonged to country clubs; and eleven per cent owned horses. These were not the aged dames of Dubuque. They were the nation’s small and big businessmen, striving: one Time brochure asked, “Can you afford to be labelled as a man from Main Street?”

In 1928, Luce replaced Hadden as editor of Time. Hadden had got bored. He had also got restless and erratic and resentful, especially after Yale awarded Luce, but not Hadden, an honorary M.A. in 1926 for “distinguished accomplishments in a novel and worthy field of journalism.” Luce chafed, too. “This Hadden-Luce yoke is certainly galling,” he wrote to his wife Lila in 1927. Luce wanted to start a business magazine; Hadden was against it. “American business is worthy of a literature of its own,” Luce wrote. “We propose to create it.” “If we do,” Hadden told a friend, “it’ll be over my dead body.” Luce at first wanted to call his new magazine Power. “Business is essentially our civilization,” he said. “Business is our life.” Hadden fell suddenly and gravely ill with what looked to his doctors like blood poisoning; they treated him with transfusions. Luce, devastated, donated blood, again and again. In March of 1929, Time mourned, “Death came last week to Briton Hadden.” He was only thirty-one.

Luce became editor-in-chief. He acquired nearly all Hadden’s stock and gained a controlling interest in Time Inc., whose offices he began to move into the new Chrysler Building. He was, by now, a millionaire. He went ahead with his business magazine. “Accurately, vividly and concretely to describe Modern Business is the greatest journalistic assignment in history,” he wrote. The stock market crashed. He changed his magazine’s name to something that allowed for twists of fate. Fortune began publication in 1930. When the first editor Luce hired proved unsuccessful, he turned to Ralph Ingersoll, the managing editor of The New Yorker.

Ross had been firing executive editors almost as fast as he hired them (he went through sixteen in nine years), and, for a while, Ingersoll, hired in 1925, had been his boy wonder. “To me, Ross was the father of the New Yorker,” Ingersoll later said, “and I was the mother.” But after Ross hired Katharine Angell, E. B. White, James Thurber, and Wolcott Gibbs, Ingersoll fell out of favor. “He thinks he’s a writer,” Ross scoffed, and then banished him to report on Ivy League football games, which he attended dressed like an Edward Gorey character. (Ingersoll, White wrote, was “right out of the social register.”) Ingersoll was miserable. Luce offered to double his pay. In 1928, when White went missing, Ross sent him a telegram: “This thing is a movement and you can’t resign from a movement.” Two years later, when Ingersoll told Ross he was leaving, Ross glared at him and said, “Hell, Ingersoll, Fortune was invented for you to edit.”

At Fortune, Ingersoll developed what came to be called the “corporation story,” a profile of a company. He had the idea of writing about The New Yorker. He asked Katharine (Angell) White to do it with him: “It would give your show a boost.” She did not reply. Ingersoll’s profile of The New Yorker was published, anonymously, in August, 1934. It was “The Making of a Magazine” told straight, which made The New Yorker look exactly the way Ross didn’t want it to look. It also violated Ross’s creed: “I do not want any member of the staff to be conscious of the advertising or business problems of The New Yorker. If so, they will lose their spontaneity and verve and we will be just like all other magazines.” Ingersoll’s story, which ran for seventeen pages, comprised, chiefly, sketches of the staff and their salaries (E. B. White: “With Thurber, he is wheel horse to The New Yorker’s wit. He makes $12,000 a year”). He was fulsome—“The New Yorker has first call on a nation’s fancy”—but, given the (undisclosed) position he’d held there, that was weirdly preening. He wrote that Ross had triumphed over the magazine’s early chaos: The New Yorker had been turning a profit since 1929; circulation had reached a hundred and twenty-five thousand. “If you must have a reason why The New Yorker is able to make big business of frivolity,” Ingersoll explained, “look to this effervescent quality in its genius, Harold Ross.” Ross was a madman, only ever articulate in a rage, who could turn “wit into dollars,” which was hard to understand, because he was “hopelessly incompetent in judging and handling human beings” and “without taste, either literary or good.”

None of this sat well. Ross was particularly pained by Ingersoll’s portrayal of Katharine White. “You had her ‘eloping’ with White in the original draft,” he later wrote Luce. “Nice for her children.” (What Ingersoll did print was: “She is a lady who has her own way.”) Ross wanted revenge. “It is not true that I get $40,000 a year,” he wrote, in a memo he posted in the office. “The editor of Fortune Magazine makes thirty dollars a week and carfare,” White wrote in a one-sentence Gossip Note in the next week’s Talk of the Town. Ross bided his time.

In 1936, Luce was planning to start yet another magazine, Life. (Time makes enemies, Luce liked to say, but Life will make friends.) Knowing how hard it would be for Luce to refuse, Ross offered to run a Profile of him the week Life hit the newsstands. Ingersoll was against it. “They hate you over there,” he warned Luce. Ross told Ingersoll that St. Clair McKelway would be writing the piece. He was lying. Wolcott Gibbs was going to write it, and if Luce had known he would never have agreed to it. (Ingersoll had written about Gibbs in Fortune, “He hates everybody and everything, takes an adolescent pride in it.”) McKelway interviewed Luce; a fleet of reporters interviewed dozens of people at Time Inc., and then they all handed their notes over to Gibbs, who wrote a brutal parody of Timestyle, called “Time . . . Fortune . . . Life . . . Luce”: “Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind.” He skewered the contents of Fortune (“branch banking, hogs, glassblowing, how to live in Chicago on $25,000 a year”) and of Life (“Russian peasants in the nude, the love life of the Black Widow spider”). He made Luce ridiculous (“ambitious, gimlet-eyed, Baby Tycoon Henry Robinson Luce”), not sparing his childhood (“Very unlike the novels of Pearl Buck were his early days”), his fabulous wealth (“Described too modestly by him to Newyorkereporter as ‘smallest apartment in River House,’ Luce duplex at 435 East 52nd Street contains 15 rooms, 5 baths, a lavatory”), or his self-regard: “Before some important body he makes now at least one speech a year.” He announced the net profits of Time Inc., purported to have calculated to five decimal places the “average weekly recompense for informing fellowman,” and took a swipe at Ingersoll, “former Fortuneditor, now general manager of all Timenterprises . . . salary: $30,000; income from stock: $40,000.” In sum, “Sitting pretty are the boys.” He closed:

Certainly to be taken with seriousness is Luce at thirty-eight, his fellowman already informed up to his ears, the shadow of his enterprises long across the land, his future plans impossible to imagine, staggering to contemplate. Where it will all end, knows God!

Ross sent Luce a proof. That night, they met in Ross’s apartment, seconded by McKelway and Ingersoll. “It’s not true that I have no sense of humor,” Luce said to McKelway (who later told Thurber, “It was one of the most humorless remarks I’d ever heard”). “There’s not a single kind word about me in the whole Profile,” Luce said. “That’s what you get for being a baby tycoon,” Ross said. “Goddamn it, Ross, this whole goddamned piece is malicious, and you know it!” Ross paused. “You’ve put your finger on it, Luce. I believe in malice.”

Ross said he’d look the piece over. Gibbs, who was an editor as well as a writer, sent him a memo, defending it. Gibbs’s opinion carried a great deal of weight. (“You cannot be too obvious” was Hadden’s watchword. “Oh yes you can” could have been Gibbs’s. Hadden’s contempt was for his readers; Gibbs reserved his for his writers. “Try to preserve an author’s style if he is an author and has a style,” Gibbs advised, in a 1937 memo titled “Theory and Practice of Editing New Yorker Articles.”) The only possible way to write about another magazine, Gibbs told Ross, was as parody, and, given what it was parodying, the piece was bound to offend: “I think Time has gratuitously invaded the privacy of a great many people; I think it draws conclusions unwarranted by the facts, distorts quotes, reprints rumors it knows have little foundation, uses a form of selective editing in getting together a story from the newspaper that throws it altogether out of focus, and that Timestyle is an offense to the ear.” Ross wrote Luce, “I was astonished to realize the other night that you are apparently unconscious of the notorious reputation Time and Fortune have for crassness in description, for cruelty and scandal-mongering and insult. I say frankly but really in a not unfriendly spirit, that you are in a hell of a position to ask anything.” He changed barely a word.

After that, things did get a little silly. Life printed a photograph of Ross doodled on to look like Stalin; Ross toyed with starting a true-crime magazine, mainly, one suspects, because he was thinking about calling it Death. (He abandoned it; he had no appetite for empire.) In 1938, Ingersoll had Eustace Tilley listed in Times masthead, in order to fire him in the next issue. Meanwhile, Life was struggling, three million dollars in the red. “We have to get more and more remarkable pictures,” Luce ordered. The first week of April, Life warned subscribers of a forthcoming story “without precedent among general magazines”: “If your copy of LIFE is read by children, this letter will give you time in which to make up your mind whether they shall see the story and under what conditions.” The offending issue contained a removable centerfold called “The Birth of a Baby,” consisting of thirty-five quite small black-and-white stills, hardly prurient, but the stunt worked. The issue was banned in cities across the country. Life’s editor contrived to get himself arrested. The New Yorker published a lampoon called “The Birth of an Adult,” written by White and illustrated by Rea Irvin. “The decrease in the number of mature persons in the world is a shocking indictment of our civilization,” White wrote. That might have been satisfying, but, in the meantime, seventeen million adults had seen that issue of Life. The New Yorker later published a cartoon of two mailmen shouldering mail sacks stuffed with Life: “If their circulation keeps going up, Joe, I swear I can’t go on.”

In 1939, White wrote a parody of a Life circulation announcement. Ross wanted to publish it in big-city newspapers, asking a colleague, “Too strong? But what the hell?” The plan was axed. (The ad has not been found.) The next year, an editor at Fortune alerted Ross about a dumb prank by New Yorker staffers involving Luce’s wife’s underwear. (Luce, divorced from his first wife, married Clare Boothe Brokaw in 1935. She later served two terms in Congress.) “I don’t know any more about it than you do,” Ross wrote. “But I do know that there are a great many sallies of one kind or another between our two offices. It’s morbid.” Ross was busy nursing another grudge, against DeWitt Wallace. (Readers Digests influence on the magazine industry, Ross wrote, “gives us the creeps.”) Luce was trying to get Franklin D. Roosevelt out of office, and Wendell Willkie elected in his place; the managing editor of Fortune ran Willkie’s campaign. And by now everybody was busy covering the war. “Honest to Christ, I’m more dilapidated at the moment than Yugoslavia,” Ross wrote in 1941. After John Hersey reported from Hiroshima for The New Yorker, Luce had Hersey’s picture taken down from Time Inc.’s gallery of honor. When Geoffrey Hellman left The New Yorker to write for Life, he sent Ross a stack of blue Time Inc. memo pads. In the winter of 1947, Ross wrote on TIME INCORPORATED stationery:

To: Mr. Hellman

From: Mr. Ross

What is the temperature over there?

Do you need any pencils?

A few years later, Ross wrote a staff memo: “I earnestly recommend that we abandon the word understandably, which has been a fad word with us for a good many months and creeps into all sorts of pieces. I saw it in Life the other day and when Life takes up a word it is time for us to unload, I think.” He sounded tired.

There may be no good way to write about one magazine in another, but it’s fair to say that the rivalry between Luce and Ross, before it got goofy, served them both surprisingly well. Luce built for Time a glittering palace and gave journalism an energetic national voice that defined the American century; he certainly didn’t need The New Yorker to help him do it, but The New Yorker helped convince him that Timestyle had run amok. “We went too far,” he admitted. White once wrote, “Ross’s private enemy is a study in itself.” That enemy was Luce, who bolstered Ross’s determination that it mattered to be something other than Time, that a world in which Luce was the last man standing, Time the last magazine read, Timese the last language spoken, would be a faster, briefer, simpler, busier, and less funny place. Ross, as much as the rest of the country, needed the news magazine. The New Yorker had proceeded as if the Depression never happened. Time, Fortune, Life, Luce, and the Second World War made writing from any such remove entirely untenable. Ross wrote wearily in 1951, “I started to get out a light magazine that wouldn’t concern itself with the weighty problems of the universe, and now look at me.” He died later that year, at the age of fifty-nine; his ashes were scattered in the mountains around Aspen.

The Age of Efficiency is over. This is the Age of Immediacy, faster than the speed of thought. A week is an eternity; four hundred words is too many; yesterday is ancient. Stories aren’t only sorted by category; they’re ranked by popularity. If, one day, everything is for everyone, and everything is timely, the battles between editors won’t be as bloody, because there will be less to fight for. Upon Ross’s death, Time printed an appreciation: “His snarling, unappeasable appetite for excellence will be missed by everybody, including the old lady in Dubuque.” A last word: the signoff from a letter this magazine’s founder sent to the Chrysler Building, long ago. Penned Editor Ross, fury-spent, to Emperor Luce, “It’s all over now, anyhow.” ♦


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