NPR logo
When TV Changed Politics: Adlai Stevenson Vs. Ike
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/95731817/95751781" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
When TV Changed Politics: Adlai Stevenson Vs. Ike

When TV Changed Politics: Adlai Stevenson Vs. Ike

When TV Changed Politics: Adlai Stevenson Vs. Ike
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/95731817/95751781" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Third of a five-part series

Adlai Stevenson sits at the governor's desk in Springfield, Ill., in July 1952. i

Gov. Adlai Stevenson sits at his desk in Springfield, Ill., in July 1952, a few days after he was named the Democratic nominee for president. That month, he withdrew from the governor's race. Bettmann/Corbis hide caption

toggle caption Bettmann/Corbis
Adlai Stevenson sits at the governor's desk in Springfield, Ill., in July 1952.

Gov. Adlai Stevenson sits at his desk in Springfield, Ill., in July 1952, a few days after he was named the Democratic nominee for president. That month, he withdrew from the governor's race.

Bettmann/Corbis

Speaking To The People

Hear Stevenson's speech at the Democratic National Convention on July 26, 1952.

Adlai Stevenson's Democratic National Convention acceptance speech
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/95731817/95733811" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Adlai Stevenson, who tried to "talk sense to the American people," was an old-fashioned intellectual who believed in long speeches and the power of words.

But in 1952, Stevenson faced his Republican opponent, Dwight Eisenhower, in the presidential race on a new battleground — television.

While Eisenhower boiled his campaign down to a few sound bites — "Ike for President" and "You like Ike, I like Ike, everybody likes Ike" — Stevenson believed in longer speeches to sell a message. So he bought 30-minute blocks on TV, but nobody tuned in to watch them.

Ultimately, the former Illinois governor lost to Eisenhower.

Radio Diaries talked with Stevenson's son, Adlai Stevenson III; Newton Minnow, who worked as an assistant legal counsel to Stevenson in 1952; David Schwartz, the chief curator of the Museum of the Moving Image; and Jean Baker, who wrote The Stevensons: A Biography of an American Family.

This story was produced by Joe Richman and Samara Freemark of Radio Diaries.

Related NPR Stories

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.