American presidents have often had a roller coaster relationship with the media, by turns adversarial or cozy, depending on the events of the time and the personalities of those in office.<br><br>
John Adams, the second president of the U.S., signed the Sedition Act of 1798, making it illegal to publish criticism of the government. The act was repealed a short time later when Thomas Jefferson took office in 1800.
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This 1862 political cartoon, published in a British humor and satire magazine called "Punch," depicts President Lincoln as a bartender with bottles labeled "Bunkum," "Bosh," and "Brag," pouring a concoction labelled "The New York Press" from the glass of "Victory" to "Defeat."<br><br>According to the book "Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion," Lincoln is often considered the first manipulator of the press. He was the only sitting president to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper.
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Ulysses S. Grant
This 1876 cartoon shows President Ulysses S. Grant struggling beneath the burdens of corruption and scandal which beset his government while being pursued by the hounds of the press.
<br><br>Grant, seared by the revelation of corruption in his administration, said in the closing of his second inaugural address that from the time of his first campaign in 1868 he had "been the subject of abuse and slander scarcely ever equaled in political history."
A political cartoon shows President Grover Cleveland holding papers labeled "National Honor and Credit" behind his back as he faces a group of newspaper editors and legislators caricatured as animals with the U.S. Capitol in the background.<br><br>Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th president of the U.S., was known for being hostile to the press. In his day, journalists didn't even have space to work in the White House. They were forced to stand outside in all kinds of weather, hoping to buttonhole visitors as they entered or departed.
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President Theodore Roosevelt clenches his teeth as he makes a point during an interview with journalists in 1905.<br><br>
"The liar," Roosevelt said of the media, "is no whit better than the thief, and if his mendacity take the form of slander he may be worse than most thieves." He contemptuously called journalists "muckrakers."
Members of the media work from a stand during Woodrow Wilson's inauguration in Washington on March 4, 1913.
Wilson held the first press conference in the Oval Office of the White House on March 15, 1913, with 100 reporters. At his second press conference, the president said, "a large part of the success of public affairs depends upon the newspapermen."
Franklin D. Roosevelt
President Franklin D. Roosevelt jovially chats with reporters under the trees of the family picnic grounds with a kettle of hot dogs on the table in Hyde Park, N.Y. on Sept. 11, 1935.
Press conferences became less formal with Roosevelt. At ease with the press -- he maintained that he was a journalist himself, claiming the status by virtue of having served on the Harvard Crimson as an undergraduate -- Roosevelt had more press conferences than any other president, a total of 1,023.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
President Franklin D. Roosevelt addresses the nation over the radio during one of his fireside chats. Before television was invented, about 90 percent of American households owned a radio and Roosevelt was able to speak intimately to people all over the United States using this form of mass media.
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Harry S. Truman
Victorious presidential candidate Harry S. Truman holds up a Chicago Daily Tribune with the headline "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN," which overconfident editors had rushed to print on the eve of the election, Nov. 3, 1948.<br><br>
Truman described some journalists as "prostitutes of the mind" in a letter to his friend Dean Acheson. He continued, "[they] have been the great menace to free government since free speech and freedom of the press was first inaugurated."
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John F. Kennedy
Presidential candidate Richard Nixon speaks during a televised debate with Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy.
The Kennedy-Nixon debate on Sept. 26, 1960, was the first-ever televised presidential debate in U.S. history and would be influential in securing Kennedy's win. Television and the scrutiny it brought changed American politics forever. To TV viewers, Nixon appeared sickly and sweaty, while Kennedy appeared calm and confident. Those who only listened to the debate on the radio gave Nixon the win.
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John F. Kennedy
President John F. Kennedy is framed by television cameras at the White House while disclosing a seven-step program to halt the Soviet military buildup in Cuba to the public, Oct. 22, 1962.<br><br>
The telegenic Kennedy was the first president to hold live TV news conferences. He battled with the media over the need for secrecy in foreign policy, but stated that, "Even though we never like it, and even though we wish they didn't write it, and even though we disapprove, there isn't any doubt that we could not do the job at all in a free society without a very, very active press."
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President Richard Nixon points to a reporter during a press conference on Dec. 10, 1970.<br><br>
Nixon had a contemptuous relationship with the media even to the point of telling his aides, "Never forget, the press is the enemy. The press is the enemy. The press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. The professors are the enemy. Professors are the enemy. Write that on the blackboard 100 times and never forget it."
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Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who investigated the Watergate story, are pictured in the newsroom on April 29, 1973.
When the Post exposed the connection between a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office building in Washington and the Nixon re-election committee, the Nixon administration and its supporters accused the media of making "wild accusations," putting too much emphasis on the story and of having a liberal bias. The scandal and subsequent impeachment proceedings eventually lead to Nixon's resignation.
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President Gerald Ford is helped to his feet after he slipped and fell as he was deplaning Air Force One on June 1, 1975, while visiting Austria.
The Washington Post ran an image of the incident on its front page along with a story that said "the fall summarized the journey. Stumble, fumble, tumble and jumble." Ford wrote in his autobiography, "From that moment on, every time I stumbled or bumped my head or fell in the snow, reporters zeroed in on that to the exclusion of almost everything else. The news coverage was harmful." The former star athlete was forever known as a klutz.
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President James Earl "Jimmy" Carter greets the press with Speaker of the House Thomas Phillip "Tip" O'Neill.
Carter's former speechwriter, James Fallows, said that the president did not devote much focus to the press, and that "it would not occur to Carter...to ask 'Well what's the [newspaper] lead going to be about this.'" In both 1978 and 1980, Carter skipped the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner.
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President Ronald Reagan laughs with White House Press Secretary Larry Speakes and Counselor David Gergen after a press conference in the Oval Office in 1983.
Ben Bradlee, the executive editor of the Washington Post from 1968 to 1991, said "We have been kinder to President Reagan than any President since I've been at the Post," in an interview with the Nation in June 2004. Despite the Iran–Contra scandal, Reagan was considered the media's favorite president due to his "sunny disposition." Not everyone agreed. The New York Times called him the master of evasion.
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George H.W. Bush
President George H.W. Bush, after attending palm Sunday Services at St. John's Episcopal Church, stopped the motorcade at the south gate to the White House so he could check if the tennis courts were still wet from a rain shower. He then decided to ride the rest of the way back to the White House in the press pool van with the photographers and reporters on April 12, 1992.
Unlike Reagan, Bush rarely appeared at press conferences or spoke directly to the media.
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Monica Lewinsky embraces President Bill Clinton at a Democratic fundraiser in Washington on Oct. 23, 1996.
Clinton became the second president in history to be impeached by the House of Representatives after his extramarital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky was uncovered. At a press conference addressing the scandal on Jan. 26, 1998, Clinton famously responded to the allegations stating, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." The scandal occurred in the era of 24-hour news channels and the rise of Fox News, The Huffington Post and the Drudge Report.
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George W. Bush
President Bush gives a thumbs-up after declaring "major combat operations in Iraq have ended," aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast on May 1, 2003. The photo op with the now infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner backfired and came to symbolize the mistakes of his administration.
Bush often struggled through press conferences, holding only seven his first two years compared to Clinton's 29 and Obama's 21.
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President Barack Obama presents surprise birthday cupcakes to veteran correspondent Helen Thomas in the White House briefing room on Aug. 4, 2009. The two shared a birthday.
Obama has been called the "first social-media president" for his early use of Twitter and Facebook in his campaign, taking his case directly to the public. His relationship with the media was often antagonistic with claims the press had limited access to the him and criticism of aggressive campaigns against intelligence leaks. Obama openly expressed disdain for Fox News.
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President Donald Trump speaks to the press aboard Air Force One before addressing a rally in Melbourne, Fla., on Feb. 18, 2017.
During Trump's presidential run he routinely used the term "fake news" and attacked the "liberal media" for what he believed was negative coverage of his campaign. As president, Trump has continued his attacks on the media including barring specific members of the press from news conferences and tweeting on Feb. 17, 2017, "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!"
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