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'Showing the Scars'...LBJ, Bill Moyers, etc--the press + the pres' health

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bobbieinok Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-05 02:30 PM
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'Showing the Scars'...LBJ, Bill Moyers, etc--the press + the pres' health
http://jeff.pasleybrothers.com/writings/showing_the_scars.htm


One of the most literally gut-wrenching moments in the annals of presidential press conferences occurred on October 20, 1965. Twelve days earlier, President Lyndon Johnson had undergone a major operation to remove his gall bladder and a stone from his ureter. Unknown to the public and the press, Johnson's doctors had also been concerned about the possibility of more dangerous conditions, such as pancreatic cancer and a recurrence of his earlier heart troubles; true to their fears, the president actually developed a superventicular tachycardia (dangerously accelerated heartbeart) while undergoing anaesthesia. Trying to allay suspicions that Johnson was seriously ill, press secretary Bill Moyers "snowed with details," including full-color anatomical slides, and the news media duly carried daily reports of Johnson's convalescence, including such minutiae as how well the president slept on particular nights, Lady Bird planting a tree outside the hospital room window, and his viewing of "Hello, Dolly!" on television. Unfortunately, Moyers had no idea how far the president was willing to take the full disclosure policy. On October 20, Johnson was holding forth to the press as he sunned himself on the Bethesda Naval Hospital grounds. "Apparently feeling words to be inadequate" in describing how he felt, the Baltimore Sun's Muriel Dobbin reported, "the President whipped up his blue knit sport shirt," and, as Time put it, "let the whole world inspect the ugly twelve-inch seam under his right rib cage" where the surgeons had done their work. Many newspapers and both major newsmagazines carried a photo that week of a squatting, squinting LBJ exposing his flesh for the press.

....

...Despite providing a "staggering" amount of information in terms of clinical detail, labeled by columnist Roscoe Drummond "objectively one of the best reporting jobs in Presidential history," it soon came out that the Johnson administration had concealed key aspects of the situation. At a post-release news conference, Johnson's doctors and press secretary revealed several facts that contrasted sharply with the president's typically over-the-top efforts - such as vigorously circumnavigating the White House lawn with reporters in tow and signing copious amounts of legislation in his hospital bed - to prove that there was no emergency: Among these were: the doctors' concerns for Johnson's heart and their elaborate preparations to deal with it; a secret meeting with former president Eisenhower just before the operation, seeking advice on how to spin the crisis based on the experience of Ike's 1955 heart attack; and the fact that Johnson had been often been sedated, even long after the operation, something that the administration had previously denied. A front page story in the Sunday New York Times carried the headline "Johnson's Surgical Secret," under a photograph of Moyers and the doctors trying to explain themselves....

....

Nor have the presidents or the press done much better in the cases where floods of information were released but the most serious problems were hidden, including Eisenhower's heart attacks and Reagan's various health problems. In Reagan's time, the media provided such niceties as front-page diagrams of the presidential colon, but missed bigger stories such as the signs of Alzheimer's that probably dated all the way back to his shooting in 1981.

(one paragraph remaining)

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bobbieinok Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-05 03:00 PM
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1. Ike's heart attack in 1955 and the press
Remebering Ike
Fitzsimmons suite where president recovered from heart attack undergoing renovation
By Daisy Whitney
Special to The Denver Post

Monday, December 30, 2002 -

In September 1955 President Dwight D. Eisenhower suffered a heart attack while he and his wife, Mamie, were visiting her family in Denver. He was rushed to Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Aurora, and ran the country from a hospital bed there for six weeks.
He bumped around in the dark of his in-laws house on Denvers Lafayette Street, searching for Milk of Magnesia and being careful not to wake Mamie. Twelve hours later, he was diagnosed with a heart attack and was rushed to Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Aurora.

Before he was whisked away on Sept. 24, 1955, his doctors insisted he walk to the ambulance so neighbors wouldn't see the president being carried on a stretcher.

Thus began a six-week-long saga, as the nation waited for its president to recover and as Eisenhower continued to govern the country from his 620-square-foot hospital suite. Long after the president had recovered, the U.S. Constitution was amended to specify ways to fulfill a president's duties when he is temporarily unable to serve.

more....


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