A Federal Case II; 17; Maxine Cheshire Betty Beale Kandy Stroud
Probably my most famous scoop was the story of Apple pushing people in the pool do you remember that went around the world. It was on the front page of most American newspapers it was love and they had called me because everybody at the party was afraid to talk and I had been at the party. How did you get that story. You see I knew they'd interchange that was it. So I call somebody that I guessed would have been there and I have I was surprised at the reaction to that would someone later tell me it was a political observer later tell me that that story did so much damage to the Kennedys the Kennedy administration politically as so much political damage that the three of them had had to get their wives pregnant and it growing 21 day get that was no use to somebody. It was so funny because we was the person who told me I had to know. I mean we knew that the source was so good that it had to be true but at the same token some 21 she had just
gotten the rabit test back from the doctor and they were very key people. We were really afraid of that story. And so I went out to the airport and to give her a chance to say yes you know and she refused to say anything and just exploded in rights that I would even ask. So we decided because so us to go ahead and run it and we were still very nervous about it. And my editor went to a luncheon that the day the story came on and sat next to Abigail McCarthy and my editor said Oh poor Maxine she's so worried about that if the Kennedy story. And again because he said Tell him not to. She said I was in Terre Haute Indiana with Ethel this morning and she was throwing up all over the hotel. And so my editor came back from the luncheon and said Let them have morning sickness today in Terre Haute is and I wonder those are two of the most powerful ladies in Washington. In fact maybe in the entire country. The first one with the pool pushing scoop is Betty Beale the one on rabbit tests is Maxine Cheshire. There are
columnists who cover the other Washington the behind the news world of parties off the cuff remarks pregnancies and politics after 6:00. Their power rests in what they reveal about whom and to whom. Each of them reaches about 10 million readers through syndication to big and small town papers across America. In the next half hour they'll say why they think you should know who gets pushed into Ethel Kennedy's book the role of columns like theirs and how different administrations make their jobs easier tough. You also meet a writer who straddles the worlds of hard news reporting and behind the scenes of labor writing. Candy Stroud Washington correspondent for Women's Wear Daily. I had written a story on the attorney general that I got it what he wanted and his comments were the first off to go. To any reporter since he's been in Washington so the story was picked up considerable. How did it happen. Well we were at a press party and it was the end of the long even though a few people standing around and he
walked in and I was the friend of my husband's who my husband asked me to take to see if there were any interesting people he was going to leave Washington and so I brought him and I said Would you like me to turn in general so we waited in line and there was. This young man was going up to Harvard Kennedy School and I said to the attorney general how do you feel about coming up sometime and talking was well this idea intrigued him and so he kind of kept us on the hook talking for a long time and. We lost any number of subjects from talking about the president being a very informed man and he said I don't know how people can call him isolated. He said he's the most informed president I've ever known he reads everything and he said Henry Kissinger is the one who informs and he said Henry you know he's a real egocentric maniac but he has his good points and he's a brilliant man and he said he boils down all these memos gives in the president and so the president you know I mean what do you think he's doing during state dinners he said he's upstairs reading his memo and then we talk about campus. He said all this do but that's just don't know what to do. It really was a place
for you that this is a federal case. From Washington D.C. the National Educational radio network brings you an examination of current issues facing our nation and its capital city. Here is an E.R. IOM correspondent Susan Stamberg. Candy Stroud paper Women's Wear Daily started as a house organ for New York's Seventh Avenue in the diamond industry. But today its circulation is enormous and it has correspondents in a number of cities other than New York. Candy covers Washington in general reports on anything that's happening here because her paper publishes only five days a week she can't break news very often so she looks beyond the news for an angle that's offbeat or funny. We talked in her house in Georgetown and I asked whether she'd ever had a phone call from Martha Mitchell. Yes it is a fact I was home in the flu the other day and she called in and I put in a call to her because I was going to do a show in New York and I knew that they were going to ask something
about Martha Mitchell So I called her with left a message of great fear and trepidation after this national story written and I was wondering if she really would call back and sure of the phone rang and she said he won't. So she said where's your mom and you want me to model a dress for you. And so I said. Tell me I want to ask you how you feel about how your husband feels about reading the paper the next morning and finding out that you made a midnight phone call does he really not know that you met him. So actually you know it's the way I communicate with him she said. We never see one another anymore. And so she says he usually hears on the radio in the morning and he punches me and he says Well honey you've done it again. Oh and guided missile. Whenever I hear Martha Mitchell my nerves begin to twitch Oh. That bit of doggerel was clipped from a newspaper and is pasted on the door of Maxine Cheshire's cubbyhole office at The Washington Post. More on Maxime later. First Betty.
Betty B.O. writes a column called exclusively yours it appears twice a week in the Washington evening star the more conservative of Washington's leading newspapers. She also writes Bette Beals Washington a column that syndicated to over 10 million readers. I asked her the same question. Have you ever had a phone call from Martha Mitchell. Oh every day we are friends. Does she call you for scoops in for crucifixions or just to say hello now we discard chat I'm one of her friends in Washington we. Just about everyday talk about something do you think that Mrs. Mitchell would make the time to various newspapers if she were the attorney general was wrong. No because she did she was married to him when he was not there when he was calling. Oh you have to have this is the stage Washington's power monovalent society is a stage with all and all the world is looking at it spotlighted for the whole world. So if you go about it
being the behaving like most cabinet wives have in the past but just you know you across the states being charming and smiling and talking and so forth but doing what is then expected of you in the past you're not going to cause a ripple. But if you do something different if you do something different you'll get written about in Betty Bill's column. She's been writing for The Star since 1945 was born in Washington and has watched it ministrations come and go observing their glitter and relishing its fallout. I'm looking at one of her columns now with an item that begins the good looking 53 year old wife of the German ambassador to the United States uses the doggoned a special treatment you ever heard of. And goes on to describe the lady's ritual mourning application of chilled black tea and a fresh carrot juice. What would you call that kind of writing trivia. Society coverage gossip. I know I don't say Castle because I check out things much more carefully than the political news writers political columnists.
It's hard to categorize a column like mine and actually it's I would I would guess the closest thing of the society I cover the social political figures. And usually I either not you know sometimes I think maybe the closest would be sort of politics off to sex or your criterion that would be a person's proximity to power. More or less that's what excites people in Washington. That's the essence of the social scene. It's a power motivated society and it's far more exciting for someone to go to a dinner party and find they're sitting next to one of the president's key advisers they get all excited about that and whatever he says they feel like they may be getting an insight into what the president is thinking these days the West Wing of the White House is ruled by Richard M. Nixon. First Candy Stroud then Betty Beale discussed the current administration. Maxine Cheshire the other day wrote that maybe that big social story for the week
in this current administration is who Tricia Nixon had in for tea on a Wednesday afternoon. Do you agree is there glamour in the White House these days. Well it was a little 98 year old lady at the White House last night who is the granddaughter of the great granddaughter of Ulysses Grant who said that to her in the White House has gotten very young and swinging you know I think it depends there have been a few really funny things at the White House but the Nixons don't stay around and mingle with their guests except during you know that when they pass a coffee at the White House and then. Immediately after the entertainment they had upstairs. Needless to say when the principals have gone the gate he really is missing you know. There might be some interesting conversation but that's about it. Sharp criticisms at the New York Times. If you've seen one White House dinner you've seen them all too. Very true in many ways that the cast of characters changes somewhat I mean you and then everyone has a party I've been to I think last year I've seen somebody from the
Ford Motors you know in their hand you your Christine over the both of them together or the vice president. And you very often see the same members over and over again it always Henry Kissinger. And how much can you turn it into Kissinger. Let's get into the subject of the White House and the current administration and also some past ones. Does this particular White House have a glamour Well let's put it this way except for the Kennedys the people in the White House generally NOT have not had clamored. Yes you wrote that may be the highlight of the week in the current administration. Tricia invites for tea. I think that's where she's trying to be very sarcastic and the president had several there and Ms Nixon had several good parties. There's no question that this isn't very different from any other administration I've ever covered I've been here since the Eisenhower days and it's very different. That's Maxine treasure the one who wrote that business about Nixon's tea parties and the one Barry Beal
said was trying to be nasty. Maxine Cheshire writes for The Washington Post the evening star is a liberal counterpart. Her column VIP for very interesting persons appears three times a week in Washington and is syndicated to some 300 papers. She's also seen and heard regularly on the TV and radio station owned by The Washington Post in Washington. She's almost 40 from Kentucky and was once a police reporter. We spoke in her office at the post of pigeon hole cubicle off the city room jammed with telephone books and newspapers and posted with choice fan letters one underlined in red that scolds her for the unadulterated hogwash she writes. In the middle of the hubbub she leans close to the mike and speaks very softly as if she doesn't want to be overheard. She's just said that this is very different from any administration she's ever covered. I ask her why. You have these so Christian Scientists who believe it's more a blessing to work than to play when they are holed up in there they neither drink nor smoke nor socialize and they are
never seen and was a Christian site. Well a great many people Haldeman and Ehrlichman if there are a great many up and down it's they just don't get out you know what I mean to have something to write about. Any body is in collision any people you know talk about any conversation any day activity movement and color and stuff. You don't get what the poem on Martha Mitchell 30 percent more people know who she is than recognize the name of the secretary of state but this is your job really is news you can sit and complain about that but in a way it's your fault and the fault of the Washington society writers who have to flesh out the cardboard. So doesn't it in a way I mean maybe you're not doing your job I just mean I can't get to one of my editor somebody who's locked up in an office in the White House all the time. So much for the current administration. On now to some others gesture then BBO about why we only just learned that Jacqueline Kennedy served slop drinks at White
House dinners at that time. This when we were still at a time when you did not growing the nice things about the president's work now we rode it but we never got it. We would write the stories and they've never been would never cross the editor's desk so it would be read and one of my editors after she married onus and after that. It was very critical of Jackie my editor who had kept down everything I have ever written. And I would have to wait until she went on vacation to get anything my doing about China. It was said to me Maxine a terrible mistake in not telling the world which I can this really life. The fact of the matter is the Kennedys were untouchable. How much does that have to do with the press. Terry always has very little do because Pam to New York was completely controlled and what she could tell us about by Jackie and by PR Sancerre press briefings and the press secretary are more important to a writer like candy
Stroud who covers events as well as personalities for Women's Wear Daily. She talks about covering the Nixon European trip this past for that European trip the lead story I think that you filed begins this way. Sure and if there had to be a gaffe in the floorless Mr. Nixon Mediterranean marathon Ireland was it. In short the blarney stop book was a bloody disaster. Why. Well I thought Ireland was awfully funny. Visit Susan because everything that could have led up to a Kennedyesque visit for example the president did not know exactly where to locate his ancestors so there were advanced men that were sent ahead to a place called him a home and discovered there were two tomatoes and so this was terribly confusing to the eye so they didn't know which to Machota choose. So it turned out that after a careful
scrutiny that the first demo produced Montgomery's not Milhouse And so that was scratched from the list and the other was chosen I really believe because of his proximity to Dublin. And that's for the present one of his trip you know. But even when we got to the first him home it turned out that they had not been able to unearth the millhouse graveyard and so the Secret Service had vocal give. There's a lot of booze in it for you. And so the Irish feeling considerable imbibers said wonderful they were seven of seven of them digging in the graveyard when the promise of the booze got around and the afternoon was over there were forty in the town that only has nine houses and you can be sure that everybody was there and anyone that ever really did on Earth anything so they built it a little. Stone and with you know in the memory of Richard Nixon's relatives or something. And this is the way it went all the way down the line you know I mean the great crowds would turn out on the street on the
way to and the president they all for him and there was a man sitting next to me in the bus and he said Sure and you know don't don't get the press didn't get excited by this the Irish even come out and wave at funerals. Now we're going to look hard at the philosophies that motivate the two big guns in this trio Betty BMX in Cheshire talking about what they do and why they do it. And getting off some extremely neat shots at one another in the process. This current Tuesday former press secretary to Mrs. Lyndon Johnson said about you Betty opened doors for society reporters in this company town. What did she mean by that. Well she's told me so and I hope she means what she said that by being responsible and not taking advantage of someone's hospitality to go write a snide piece. Or let's say let's be frank bitchy and bitchy piece just just do. It. Just because some people think that's the way to get readers and it may be but I am not about to
do it and so also I go to a party as any other guest. And I don't brandish a pen and notebook because I know other guests don't do it. She went on to say let's come to finish that sentence by saying unfortunately there has been a mischief making trend lately that is closing doors. Explain that. Well it would be very hard for me to discuss that without being very critical of some of my. Colleagues so I don't really think I should comment on it do you. But I think that I mean well let me put it this way. I don't consider myself either a police or investigative reporter. I can I consider myself. Real hard news getter on the social scene if possible and somebody who presents gives you the color of the picture I would hope that future generations or maybe centuries if they particularly wanted to get the flavor of Washington side here or know who
to whom who took part in it what it was like to go the embassy Dennis how they entertained would have to go back and read me I would and I think they could do so and get the truth. You see use of them as a kind of social historian. Well it sounds nice that way don't you think. And where you may ask does a social historian in the making go to watch social history being made. Oh I go wherever my invitations take me. So your invitations could take you to dinner at the home of a prominent Washington administration person say you know right at the home of justice of the Supreme Court. I haven't done that with the burgers yet but I'm done with the Bloods and the finches and it shows I haven't you know I mean and then I am. But generally speaking most most of the entertaining them. Most of the dinner parties in Washington which I attend which my husband I go to and which actually most of the officials go to are given by
diplomats ambassadors are usually invited as a guest rather than a working reporter or is it a combination of the two. Well there are where invited by friends just to be ourselves lots of times I I I do not fool myself for a moment if I wasn't during the con I'm certain the invitations from embassies wouldn't be forthcoming unless I'm at the many house and entertain them. I mean if I didn't have to go sometimes and I don't usually go unless I'm willing to return it either in print or in my house. Are you a political animal. Oh yes I do door politics. Do you take sides you've been called pro-establishment pro ministration would you say it was a fair description of ministration to talk about current. Well when they said the same thing in the last the last three you know you know I mean I tell you what I feel a great deal of sympathy for those in the White House because I can see I keep thinking if I were there what I've done well there's not much you can do about the situation. So I don't go out to ax them.
I don't think that you should always just look for the warts. You've been described as one of the most feared ladies in Washington. Can you understand that. No not really. And lest some people fear to be ignored. You think that's what I said I don't know I don't I don't I. It could be that I say that they get to chatting and you get interested in that at a party and you first thing you know you've said something but even then I use my judgment you know it you know you're not going to be invited back. And you also can feel like an absolute worm. If you took took the advantage of getting a conversation going it was very interesting and you were talking to a lot of the top men in the state Berman and he told you something because he thought you were an interesting or intelligent person and then he finds that after you'd wormed your way and like that you spill it you're not going to be invited back. It is the very below tradition of journalism which is something on its well which is
you know editors will not accept the idea that a reporter has to pay to edit censor what she writes and write only lovely things so that she'll get invited back. Really. Down there we just don't buy that in a voice. I mean they know perfectly well that there is someone who keeps news out of the paper that you know they resent it and they know it immediately when it's done. They know that not everybody is beautiful and lovely and they know that that things happen you know nice there that some writers don't tell oh it tell I think television has had a great deal to do with that because I think that you see people know you. Is it the buttons on the top of the tube and you know the old saying What is Johnny Carson really like they're there for you to say they give themselves away. And it's very difficult to do people who watch you like we're on television I think that's created an interest with most people in in knowing more about public figures but
wouldn't know your stories be told God wouldn't the story of back. To Henry Kissinger's who gave a party and invited people without trying to be labeled as a gossip story rather than a hard news story or how would you characterize it. Do you think it's gossip to say that somebody on the national security staff was at a pension security. I mean that's a statement of fact. It sheds light on the other people in the White House doing this stuff. JOHN MOORE No I think that when I try and do is use glimpses and insights into personalities. I think you understand people better if you know something about it that much if you know nothing of the details of people's lives. You don't you don't really know them. And I she said that's the purpose and you can use this kind of people no matter what I write it that I have no loyalty I mean I'm not trying to advance my social position or that I really am trying to be simply a good neighbor.
Betty be says that she won't accept an invitation unless she's willing to return it either in print or in her column. Do you agree with that price. Well you see she does something different than I do. I mean she's sitting there and I think almost completely restricted due to chronic coverage and I don't do that now and I don't feel I'm there. For it either to write a bread and butter story or bread and butter note. Part of returning you know I'm there. And it is a working newspaper woman not as again how do you work. Do you actually go to cover an event I don't cover you know I circulate move and I cover Washington the way I used to cover police and that is that I have contacts and spies you know. I try in every strata of Washington and there are circles within circles within the circles in Washington and I sort of try to keep people in all of those areas and I doubt I stay in this no more or less constant contact. With those people. How much do you rely on
telephone tips. What I have and I would say 95 percent of what I do is I do it by phone. You can't hide. People will not come up and out of horny and tell you so and especially not me because some of my best sources would be terrified to have anybody know. And so I get on the phone I have code names for my people they call here and leave code names and they know that's not their real name or anything else they don't have a telephone number they just need a code name and I called them out. How much of the top secrecy does that have to be. You have to protect your stories if they're scoop the stories from a leaky you have to do kind of undercover stuff to make sure that nobody else gets that news until it's out in your column. We've had stories go down and specially set and walked away before anybody so that nobody would see even a page for what's a specific example of such a juicy story that had to be handled that well we know jacking scenario this is that
was in the wind down to 22 inches Sunday I was with no doubt and you know what no identification at all as to subject matter not even in editorial comments. You've been described as one of the most feared women in Washington. Can you understand why someone would hear you. I find me and I have started to understand it. He used to seem so funny to me. He said You know I really don't know when you you know on my own since that and I really I simply tried to be a good newspaper and I couldn't understand why people were so terrified. But I finally realized what the moon but everyone has something they don't want or they feel it could embarrass them. Senator John Shimkus wife was explaining this to me why people just couldn't understand why they were so afraid and she said that everyone feels that they do foolish things so they do things that will not look good in print or that they don't particularly want people to know about
and that they were afraid of saying that in print and they think I would have no qualms at all about printing printing it. And actually it's not true. You know there are some things that people do that are embarrassing that are not newsworthy I mean they you know if someone is tipsy at a party I'd never write anything like that. But they can't disassociate that in their minds and I know I realize why. So many people fear me so terribly. Maybe there should be created a fifth estate for Lady journalists like Maxine Cheshire and Betty and Kenny Strout too who may be a Cheshire in the making. And the state hung with a glimmering chandelier ears and rimmed with spies wielding code names and hotlines in terms of social history you'd really have to read them all to pin down what it was really like in this place at this time. But in terms of pure fun and games it all depends on whether your cup of tea is chilled and goes on your face with carrot juice or shows up pants less at parties where power people play.
I think I'd rather have Bette Beale come to my house for dinner and find out how the evening went by reading Maxine Cheshire. I have tried to give this kind of reporting integrity and accuracy. It's still called gossip column you couldn't help but use expression. And yet I've tried to give it a standing then would you say that you made Martha Mitchell what she is today. No I'm saying I made him what he is today. This is Susan Stamberg for the national educational radio network from Washington. You've been listening to a federal case a weekly examination of a national issue from the perspective of our nation's capital. A federal case is produced with farms provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is the national educational radio network.
- A Federal Case II
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- National Educational Radio Network
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- "A Federal Case II" is a weekly program produced by the National Educational Radio Network which examines current political topics in the United States and Washington, D.C. Each episode features interviews with experts, members of the public, and lawmakers concerning a specific issue of government.
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Producing Organization: National Educational Radio Network
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 70-18-17 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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- Chicago: “A Federal Case II; 17; Maxine Cheshire Betty Beale Kandy Stroud,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 4, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-8k74zj0v.
- MLA: “A Federal Case II; 17; Maxine Cheshire Betty Beale Kandy Stroud.” 1971-00-00. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-8k74zj0v>.
- APA: A Federal Case II; 17; Maxine Cheshire Betty Beale Kandy Stroud. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-8k74zj0v