Lady Bird Evaluates LBJ's Performance After a Press Conference

3/7/1964 - 4:10PM

Lady Bird Grades the President’s Press Conference

Lady Bird: You want to listen for about one minute to--

LBJ: Yes, ma’am.

Lady Bird: --my critique, or would you rather wait until tonight?

LBJ: Yes, ma’am.  I’m willing now.

Lady Bird: I thought that you looked strong, firm, and like a reliable guy. Your looks were splendid.  The close-ups were much better than the distance ones.

LBJ: Well, you can’t get them to do it--

Lady Bird: Well, I will say this:  there were more close-ups than there were distance ones.  During the statement you were a little breathless.  And there was too much looking down.  And I think it was a little too fast.  Not enough change of pace. Drop in voice at the end of sentence.  There was a considerable pickup in drama and interest when the questioning began. Your voice was noticeably better and your facial expressions noticeably better. 

[Second segment]

Lady Bird: I think the outstanding things were that the close-ups were excellent. You need to learn--when you’re going to have a prepared text, you need to have the opportunity to study it a little bit more and to read it with a little more conviction, and interest, and change of pace because--

LBJ: [talking over each other] Well, the trouble is that they criticize you for taking so much time; they want to use it all for questions.  Then their questions don’t produce any news, and if you don’t give them news, you catch hell.  So my problem was trying to get through before ten minutes.  And I still ran ten minutes today. 

Lady Bird: Mm-hm.

LBJ: And I took a third of it for the questions, and I could have taken, if I’d read it like I wanted to, fifteen minutes.

Lady Bird: Mm-hm.

LBJ: But I didn’t know what to cut out.  Maybe I ought to cut out Mary’s [Lasker] Heart [Cancer, Stroke Committee members] name[s], but I thought that every place one of those names was dropped they’d call up the fellow and ask him about it, and he’d get his name in the paper and then publicize it good, and it would help the committee.

Lady Bird: Mm-hm.  I believe if I’d had that choice I would have said use thirteen minutes--or fourteen for the statement. 
In general, I’d say it was a good B+. How do you feel about it?

LBJ: I thought it was much better than last week.

Lady Bird: Well, I heard last week, see, and didn’t see it and didn’t hear all of it.  And, at any rate, I felt sort of on safe ground [sigh]. I mean, like you had sort of gotten over a hump psychologically and in other ways.  It’ll be interesting to hear everybody else’s reaction.

Read the transcript of a conversation between Reverend Billy Graham and President Johnson, as he asks for prayer.