Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Orval Faubus, June 14, 1974. Interview A-0031. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Expanding influence of the media in politics

Faubus describes the expanding influence of the media in politics. Television, radio, and increasing newspaper circulation are shaping public opinions on political figures long before those figures have the chance to do so themselves. Television also dulls the political involvement of potential voters who would rather watch their programs than listen to a candidate speak.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Orval Faubus, June 14, 1974. Interview A-0031. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

WALTER DE VRIES:
Is there also a difference in the way the media covers governors or candidates. I mean television, has that made a real difference in the—
ORVAL FAUBUS:
Oh yes.
WALTER DE VRIES:
—the way the campaign is covered?
ORVAL FAUBUS:
Back in the time when McMath was governor and before and at the time when I was governor in the beginning, when a candidate for governor went into a town or a county, it was a big event. You had a lot of people turn out. The curious would come. They'd come to listen. They'd come to see, to make up their minds. They've already got their minds made up now before you get there. Television, radio and newspapers. Newspapers so much more widely circulated. And they've had all this drilled into their heads for so long, why you find scarcely anyone going to a political meeting now to hear a man to see whether or not he wants to vote for him or what he thinks about. He already has an impression. The news media is doing more to determine the fate of public figures now and the fate of this country than ever before in the history of the nation, or I guess of mankind. I can remember when I was a youngster, you know, we'd go to a music party if there was one once a month to hear some music. Now you're saturated with it. Radio, television, all the other instruments. Appliances in the household. Sometimes you get tired of it and have to turn it off. Whereas we were hungry for it. Well, that's the way people used to be for, somewhat for politics, especially those who were interested. So they'd go to hear and to see. Even if it wasn't their man and they already had someone they were going to support. They'd go to see the other speaker, if he came through, just to see about him, size him up. Sometimes change their minds.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Do you think that was true of your campaign in '70, '74? unknown campaign trail was already decided?
ORVAL FAUBUS:
After I got Bumpers it was. Now he was relatively unknown but he had this charisma and he was all things to all people. They didn't know whether he was liberal; they didn't know whether he was conservative. They didn't know what kind of background he had. In fact he had no public record, you know, other than city attorney in Charleston, which is of little note. Important enough, but of little note. So when the press began, you know, giving him this good publicity he'd get as much benefit in one day as I could get in a whole month going and speaking and trying to find people. Talking to them or shake hands. Mail literature or anything else. And it was the same way this time. I made a month's campaign, determined tour of the state. What I could see in the crowds that I came . . . there were so very few of the undecided. Now I changed someone's mind every time I spoke. But I couldn't get to speak to enough people. Wrong time of year. Farmers in the field, even working at night. Factory workers busy at jobs. And why would they go down town listen to a candidate speak when they can turn on a western drama or whatever they want on television. Or get the news. Thirty minutes of Walter Cronkite or somebody else, you know, that speaks with such authority.