Video clip from the documentary film Gerald R. Ford: A Test of Character

  • 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.

    1. How did Ford’s interactions with the media differ from Nixon’s?

      Nixon’s “imperial presidency” was sometimes seen as distant. The Ford Administration, on the other hand, was more relaxed and less guarded with the media than its predecessor. 

    2. What image did Gerald R. Ford hope to convey to the American people?

      Gerald R. Ford wanted to be seen as an everyman—someone like them. He wanted to restore the American people’s trust in the presidency.

    3. What example does the video provide about how Betty Ford used her position as first lady to advocate for causes?

      Betty Ford did not shy away from the media and used her platform as first lady to enact social change. She spoke out about the Equal Rights Amendment for women, and maintained that the first lady had a right to be heard about important matters. 

    • 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.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    digital media Noun

    electronic methods of communication.

    media Noun

    means of mass communication, such as television or the Internet. Singular: medium.

    public Noun

    people of a community.

Funder

Partner