Gerald R. Ford became the 38th President of the United States after Richard Nixon resigned due to his involvement in the Watergate scandal. Ford set out almost immediately to rebuild the public’s broken image of the presidency.
Gerald and Betty Ford reached the American people through media such as television, newspapers, and radio. President Ford granted the media access to his day-to-day activities. Betty Ford also stepped into the public arena, lending her voice to causes such as the Equal Rights Amendment.
Gerald and Betty Ford’s increased visibility, as they opened up their life through media, began to restore the public’s trust in the presidency.
- In September of 1974, Betty Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer and disclosed her medical condition to the world—an act that broke social conventions of the time.
- Betty Ford held press conferences and answered questions about women in politics, abortion rights, and the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
- After assuming the presidency upon Richard Nixon’s resignation, Gerald R. Ford amassed a 71 percent approval rating.