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University of California
Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive

Gerald Ford's America

235 camera original tapes from TVTV's production of Gerald Ford's America (1975) in the 100 days following Richard Nixon's resignation

In 1974, it was all but certain that Richard Nixon would be impeached by the US House of Representatives for his role in the Watergate cover-up scandal. TVTV was prepared to be on the ground for Nixon’s impeachment and had established a “Washington Bureau” (complete with a neon sign for the Bureau—TVTV had a flair for details). However, rather than face the unprecedented humiliation of impeachment (and probable conviction by a duty-bound Senate), Nixon resigned on August 8th 1974, and TVTV had to act quickly to catch the story and its aftermath. Vice President Spiro Agnew had already resigned his office in 1973 in a separate scandal, leaving Gerald Ford, whom Nixon had appointed to replace Agnew, in line for the highest office. The result was Gerald Ford’s America a documentary aired on public television in 1975 in four thirty—minute episodes.

Ford’s brief presidency was already marked in its first weeks by a dogged commitment to not rocking the boat, with Nixon’s pardon a month after his resignation marking a zenith of mind-numbing adherence to the status quo. At a moment when working-class Americans struggled through (what was then) the deepest recession since the Great Depression and the Vietnam War dragged on long past any semblance of legitimacy, Ford amicably presided over social functions, diplomatic soirées, and gaudy Republican Party fundraisers. TVTV embedded with the White House press corps, following the president on junkets and following administration officials to lavish embassy parties. They also carried their portable video equipment into the streets to talk to protestors, media insiders, average American families, and Ford’s supporters across the country. These raw tapes capture the flavor of TVTV’s coverage of Gerald Ford’s America—both the media veneer applied to American politics and the politics underlying the American media’s version of reality.

These two hundred thirty-five tapes were transferred from camera original half-inch open reel videotape in 2019 through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. A small handful of tapes have been excluded from display due to privacy and other concerns. We have included some descriptions of tape contents written at the time of shooting along with notes compiled by BAMPFA’s Project Assistants during our digitization project.

8/8/1974. Interviews about Nixon impeachment outside the White House on the day of his resignation. See also 17247.

8/8/1974. Interviews about Nixon impeachment outside the White House on the day of his resignation. See also 17246.

Press conference begins 00:19:06. --mg, 6/4/2019

Gerald Ford’s America 005. 8/9 DC tape [2]

Betty Ford press conference begins at 00:05:15. --mg, 6/4/2019

Gerald Ford’s America 011. 9/8 Allen Rucker and Michael A. Shamberg in front of Lincoln Memorial on pardon day

Gerald Ford’s America 016. Rocky gets nod / White House

Congressional hearing on abortion begins at approximately 00:12:30. --mg, 6/4/2019

Interviews with pro-life activists at congressional hearing and demonstrations. --mg, 6/4/2019

Gerald Ford’s America 020. 9/6 women's briefing

Irv Kupcinet. Behind the scenes look at television interview with Betty Ford begins 00:18:05. --mg, 6/4/2019

A variety of shots edited together, e.g. footage at the TVTV house, Robert T. Hartmann interview at 00:14:34, state dinner footage.

9/10/1974. White House press briefing about Watergate and impeachment; mostly audio only.

Gerald Ford’s America 025. White House welcomes Prime Minister [of Israel Yitzhak] Rabin

Helen Thomas interview begins at 00:08:05. --mg, 6/5/2019

9/10/1974. Ramsey Clark interview outside polling place. Tour of Ramsey Clark's offices; interview with Clark press secretary Wendy Moonan.

Novasky is misspelled -> Navasky.

Gerald Ford’s America 033. 9/10 Clark: victory bash, entrance

10/8/1974. Press conference in the Rose Garden, then tour of [White House?] offices.

Gerald Ford’s America 037. 9/14 Husken int. #1

Gerald Ford’s America 038. 1,000,000 visitor

Gerald Ford’s America 040. 9/24 Rocky (1)

Gerald Ford’s America 041. 9/16 Amnesty Day at the White House

White House staff picnic; Betty Ford gives autographs.

High school students watching President Ford address on television. --mg, 6/10/2019

Interviews with demonstrators. --mg, 6/10/2019

Interviews with demonstrators and workers. --mg, 6/10/2019

Ehrlichman interview begins approximately 00:02:45. --mg, 6/10/2019

Formal interview with Fauntroy begins 00:06:11. --mg, 6/10/2019

Gerald Ford’s America 058. [Peter] Lisagor lunch

Gerald Ford’s America 060. Mrs. Ford's second reception (original)

Gerald Ford’s America 061. 9/24 Rocky (2)

Gerald Ford’s America 062. 9/23 Rocky hearings color #1

Gerald Ford’s America 064. 9/23 Rocky hearings b&w #1 no sound

Gerald Ford’s America 065. Rocky hearings (Byrd)

More direct interview with Jerry terHorst begins approximately 00:07:30. --mg, 6/11/2019

Gerald Ford's America 068. 9/24 Rocky (3) color and b&w

Gerald Ford's America 069. [Giovanni] Leone arrival

Gerald Ford's America 070. White House

Gerald Ford's America 072. 9/24 State dinner (PM)

A Drum Roll to- 200+9000 Music for walk down grand staircase and Hail to the Chief Pres intro and ragtime ensemble.

Angela Davis addressing Governor Rockefeller's response to the Attica Prison uprising. --mg, 6/11/2019

Nader statement begins 00:11:05. TVTV interview with Nader begins 00:20:22. --mg, 6/11/2019

Gerald Ford's America 078. 9/27 dog food and TVTV meeting

Group meeting discussing reporter access to the White House and TVTV's relationship with network reporters, as well as proposed topics and approach to coverage.

First few minutes of tape are (high school class?) discussing Nixon pardon; middle is Lions Club meeting; end of tape is in high school gym preparing for ceremony.

Also footage and interviews at local mill.

Donald Rumsfeld briefing and Q&A about his appointment as White House Chief of Staff from 00:02:48-00:26:48. Some back and forth about his previous role for Nixon. Another label says "10/13 Alioto/Ford photo opp. / Sylvia Porter briefing" on front of case but this is incorrect.

Interview with Lydia Preston starts at 00:12:25 (talking about Meridian House in DC). Interview with Bernard Fensterwald starts at 00:21:00 (talking about assassinations).

Skip Blumberg says at beginning of tape: "We're going to see Walter Cronkite throw a 75-cent piece across Jerry Ford's lawn." Footage at Washington Monument begins 00:09:50.

Footage of a large party at night throughout and outside the embassy. More footage in 17319.

Gala footage at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, including speeches, a concert band performance, and interviews with attendees and board members. Same event as 17320, 1321.

Footage of a small dinner party in one room (appears to be same as 17317), then of rest of party (17316).

Same Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden event as 17318, 17321. Footage of Joseph Hirshhorn starting around 00:21:20; footage of Hubert Humphrey starting around 00:24:20.

Tape labels say: "10/15 W/H surveillance / 11/4 Erlichman meets TVTV," "Erlichman 'Get a Little Closer' Megan/Betsy." First half of tape concerns proposed rules for White House Correspondents' Association; second half sets up outside U.S. Court of Appeals (D.C. Circuit) and catches people walking in and out of Watergate trial. Brief Erlichman interview 00:23:41.

Tape label says: "Chaplain." Footage and interview of Lindy Boggs (Louisiana representative) 00:02:20 through end of tape; Boggs was hosting party for retirement of South Carolina representative Thomas Gettys. Interview with Senate Chaplain Edward Elson 00:30:03 through end. Same event as 17323.

Lindy Boggs's party for Thomas Gettys. Interviews with Gettys at 00:18:00. Same event as 17323.

Brief conversations with passers by, footage of artworks.

Part of same interview as 17328. Dub from color.

Part of same interview as 17327. Dub from color.

Parade starts 00:10:50, football game starts 00:18:40.

Tape labels say: "GF 8. Cranberry Festival in Living Color. Cranberry Parade - downtown Bundon. Cranberry Bowl - football game. Halftime activities -- live color feed from KCBY, IVC color camera -> 8600 thru their IVC 870 recorder." Dub from local news in color.

Gerald Ford's America 109. 10/3 Byrd breakfast with Mansfield

Gerald Ford's America 111. 10/3 [Robert] Byrd lunch

Tour of Congress architecture and decoration; interview with Robert Byrd discussing Senate bill to preserve Nixon tapes; Byrd reviews tape of self. Identical content to 17336.

Tour of Congress architecture and decoration; interview with Robert Byrd discussing Senate bill to preserve Nixon tapes; Byrd reviews tape of self. Identical content to 17335. Label says: "interview with Congresswoman Edith Green" but this does not represent the content.

Group discussion of movement to cut off military aid to Turkey for giving Cyprus American arms. Participants include: John Brademas, Sen. Paul Sarbanes, Rep. Benjamin Rosenthal, Bill Sudow (Special Assistant and Counsel to Brademas), others. Same meeting as 17337. Brademas summarizes the meeting directly to camera around 0:02:05.

Bill Sudow, Special Assistant and Counsel to Brademas, in office. 00:06:00 on is candid footage of taxi rides and street views of DC (including Independence Avenue).

Social scenes, connected to Iran. Gerald and Betty Ford appear 00:18:20 and greet Henry Kissinger 00:19:10. Label on tape case says: "Gerry and Pomp (213) - 2nd 20 min Part -- this tape holds original material for the press edit -- please don’t use it for editing/roughing/dubs. etc."

Following Robert Byrd around Capitol, including subway; at 00:04:30, John Brademas and meeting depicted in 17337/17338; at 00:06:50, larger meeting about Turkey; 00:09:40 Gerald Ford signing veto.

00:04:00 Pye Chamberlayne typing and recording Nixon tapes piece for UPI (radio network) on audiotape; and again at 00:24:00. 00:15:20-00:24:00: Senator Gaylord Nelson television taping.

Labels on tape case say: "150 [ISO?] music. Orch + Hail to Chief," "Polish dinner [illeg.]." However, Ford's speech clearly concerns Italy and is translated into Italian (see sequence beginning at 00:24:00), suggesting the tape is of the Italian state dinner.

TVTV meeting about process and strategy.

TVTV meeting about process and strategy.

TVTV meeting about process and strategy.

10/7/1974. Robert Byrd playing fiddle and singing.

Pye Chamberlayne writing and recording radio story for UPI, being interviewed about Robert Byrd.

Social scenes. Polo match in West Potomac Park, D.C.; visit to recently-opened Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia; party scenes and interviews.

Anda Korsts and Megan Williams interview Helen Smith (press secretary to Betty Ford).

Gerald Ford’s America 134. 10/8 Polish arrival (see 144)

Allen Rucker speaks on telephone with Helen Collins, Television Coordinator for Gerald Ford.

10/8/1974. Interview with John Brademas begins 00:00:15; Tip O'Neill enters 00:07:04 and Brademas begins to interview him. Interview topics include the joint session, Ford and his economic policy, the current Congress and changes in the House of Representatives.

10/8/1974. 00:08:50: Sarah McClendon interviews Robert Byrd (through end of tape).

10/8/1974. 00:00:00-00:01:31: Sarah McClendon interviews Senator Robert Griffin (R-MI). McClendon in the halls of the Hill; McClendon on the phone asking followup questions about Ford's press conference and economic policy.

10/8/1974. Edward Gierek arrives for Polish state visit. 00:02:54 Henry Kissinger on camera; 00:04:13 Ford and Kissinger (long shots, nothing audible). 00:06:31 Gierek arrives. 00:12:32 Ford speech; 00:17:34 Gierek speech. Footage until 00:02:54 is inaudible due to audio buzz.

10/8/1974 Ford "Whip Inflation Now" speech to Congress joint session. Footage until 00:04:49 is inaudible due to audio buzz. Camera largely on Ford, with some shots of audience, including John Brademas and Henry Kissinger. See also 17371.

9/26/1974. 00:00:00 Angela Davis testifies before Congress at Nelson Rockefeller confirmation hearings. 00:01:20 through end of tape: edited cuts of Robert Byrd footage, except for 00:06:44-00:11:49 (TVTV meeting).

10/8/1974. House Radio/TV Gallery; John Rhodes (Minority Leader) and others' response to Ford "Whip Inflation Now" speech to Congress. Other reactions shot in hallways. Footage of reporters and cameras.

10/8/1974. Setup for Ford press conference in White House Rose Garden. Ford statement, followed by Q&A, begins 00:06:38.

Head: TVTV test tape and informal chatting. 00:06:13 Senator Thomas Downing (D-VA) with children on Capitol steps. 00:16:21 inside Capitol office planning logistics for a meeting TVTV will shoot.

10/8/1974 Ford "Whip Inflation Now" speech to Congress joint session. Camera focused on audience reactions in the House chamber. Includes recording of official responses in House Radio/TV gallery.

10/8/1974 Ford "Whip Inflation Now" speech to Congress joint session. Camera focused on Ford. See also 17363. 00:15:05 Sarah McClendon on phone, filing story in a newsroom, attending party.

10/9/1974. Party at Meridian House; interviews and conversations with attendees, including John Brademas. See also 17369, 17374. Tape case says "1" but shot log says "2 of 3"; the latter seems to be correct.

10/9/1974. Tape opens with TVTV meeting and discussion. Meridian House party begins 00:06:29; tape is largely party arrivals. See also 17369, 17372. Tape case says "2" but shot log says "1 of 3"; the latter seems to be correct as the tape begins with a strategy meeting.

10/9/1974. Meeting about Turkey foreign policy with John Brademas, Olin "Tiger" Teague, Carl Albert, Benjamin S. Rosenthal, John J. McFall, others.

Assorted footage at TVTV headquarters from October 9-11, 1974; phone calls and other conversations.

00:15:17: Oval Office, Ford announces he will veto Turkey aid bill (10/15/1974). Before and after: Allen Rucker on telephone with Bob Mead, requesting an interview with Ford Press Secretary Ron Nessen.

Betty Ford returns to White House (with Gerald) via helicopter landing on White House Lawn, with press in attendance. Despite title, same footage of same event as 17381 (Betty Ford returning from mastectomy, 10/11/1974).

Head of tape through 00:04:51 taped directly off television (NBC Nightly News). Middle of tape is assorted footage at TVTV headquarters, including a call from Allen Rucker to the White House. End of tape (beginning 00:21:58) is brief event at the White House and debrief with TVTV members.

Shots of monuments and memorials on the National Mall (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln) and nearby landmarks (White House, State Department).

10/14/1974. Very brief interview with Joseph Alioto. Second half of tape is press conference with Sylvia Porter (Citizens Action Committee to End Inflation).

Very brief interview with Joseph Alioto, then reflection. Rest of tape is shots of Washington around the Mall, with brief street interactions.

Shots of Washington around the Mall.

10/9/1974. [Likely Michigan.] Mr. Lasswell's journalism class discusses Ford's inflation speech. [Date on tape and shot log likely wrong, as shot logs specifies the class took place the day after the speech.] Discussion of recession, middle class, "scrimping and saving," Ford not leading by example.

10/8/1974 Association of the United States Army reception. Sarah McClendon reporting and mingling with a number of Army generals. Continued in 17358.

10/15/1974. Footage in Capitol hallways. John Brademas's office; Brademas makes calls and takes meetings. Brademas leads TVTV to the Majority Leader's office via Capitol subway, speaking about Ford along the way.

10/15/1974. John Brademas meets with Bill Sudow, Paul Sarbanes, Thomas Eagleton, and others about Turkey aid bill.

10/15/1974. Meeting from 17392 breaks up; rest of tape is Brademas lobbying on phone.

10/15/1974. Brademas in group meeting about military assistance to Cyprus and aid to Turkey. Second half of tape is setup and press conference about Cyprus and Turkey, delivered by George H. Mahon (D-TX, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee).

"Claghorns on Parade" - members of Congress racing up Capitol steps after meeting at White House. 11/12/1974 or 11/13/1974 Nelson Rockefeller confirmation hearings [shot log and tape label differ on date].

10/15/1974. Empty pressroom; reporters preparing and milling before Tennessee Ernie Ford's performance at the White House.

Continuation of footage from 17397 (10/15/1974 Tennessee Ernie Ford performance at White House; begins with Ford's speech). 00:02:28 through end: Peter Lisagor and Walter Mondale in conversation (see also 17404).

10/15/1974. Empty White House press room. Photo opportunity in Oval Office. Campaign reform bill signing, with Robert Byrd.

10/15/1974. Interview with staffer in Robert Byrd's office. George H. Mahon holds press conference responding to Ford's veto of bill with aid to Turkey. TVTV tapes each other outside the Capitol.

Interview with Lindy Boggs at her office on the Hill. Continued in 17403.

Interview with Lindy Boggs at her office on the Hill. Continued from 17402.

Peter Lisagor and Walter Mondale in conversation (see also 17398).

10/17/1974. Hubert Humphrey interviewed by Peter Lisagor. Continued from 17410.

10/17/1974. Press waiting for William Hungate during Ford's Congressional testimony on Nixon pardon; monitoring television broadcast. Hungate interview audible starting 00:22:15. See also 17405.

10/17/1974. Peter Lisagor reads out loud William Hungate's statement about Ford's Nixon pardon testimony; reads and marks up Ford's statement; dictates piece with commentary while on phone to Chicago. Continued in 17409.

10/17/1974. Peter Lisagor dictates piece with commentary while on phone to Chicago (continued from 17409). Lisagor interviews Hubert Humphrey beginning 00:06:48; continued in 17406.

Edit of John Brademas footage, with introduction focused on Turkey ad. 00:21:52 on is taped off broadcast television and silent.

10/18/1974. Peter Lisagor on Agronsky & Company [Martin Agronsky's television show], talking about Ford's pardon of Nixon and his testimony. Tape 17416 is same content, but shot from the control room.

10/21/1974-10/23/1974. Series of telephone calls where Allen Rucker tries to get ahold of Bob Mead [Meade?]/Ron Nessen through Judy Gibson and is denied access. TVTV discusses strategy.

International UN Ball at the Hilton. Interviews with people working the ball; attendees arrive. See also 17419.

10/18/1974. Peter Lisagor on Agronsky & Company [Martin Agronsky's television show], talking about Ford's pardon of Nixon and his testimony, as seen from the control room. Same content as 17412, but with commands from the control room as they broadcast live. File-GFA original. 10/18 WNET 3400 Vid NY Camera

11/2/1974. Dinner party at Clyde's. Attendees discuss the DC party scene and Washington, D.C. itself.

International UN Ball at the Hilton. Interviews with attendees. Extended focus on Betty Beale starting 00:22:15. See also 17415.

Betty Beale at [Weinberger's] private house party.

Betty Beale interview; see also 17459. Shot logs and tape label suggest this tape should be the Iran embassy party but this is not the content on the tape.

Iran embassy party: Betty Beale, Robert Hartman, ambassadors and other diplomats. Discussion of State Department and State Dinner.

Iran embassy party: light interviews with attendees about Washington social scene. Interview with ambassador Neville Kanakaratna of Sri Lanka at 00:04:35.

Robert Byrd stump speech in Winchester, Virginia.

Robert Byrd stump speech and interviews with supporters in Winchester, Virginia and Wise, Virginia.

Robert Byrd stump speech in Wise, Virginia.

Robert Byrd stump speech in Roanoke, Virginia, and aftermath.

Interviews with partygoers at the French Embassy.

Helen Smith honored at club reception.

Interview with Peter Lisagor 1/3.

Interview with Peter Lisagor 2/3.

Interview with Peter Lisagor 3/3.

10/28/1974 Veterans Day concert and memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Ford speaks at 00:16:45.

10/28/1974 continuation of Veterans Day concert and memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Sarah McClendon appearance and interview around 00:01:50. Interview with servicemembers and veterans starting around 00:08:45, then interviews with attendees about Ford and inflation in second half of tape.

Footage of Bob Porter working at mill + interview; discussion of Cranberry Queen. Interview with Kit Mean's family about family history, Nixon, current state of America. [Title misspelled]

10/28/1974. Washington International Horse Show, attended by Gerald and Betty Ford and other dignitaries. Military band performance. Interviews with attendees and footage of show. [Title misspelled]

10/28/1974. Washington International Horse Show, attended by Gerald and Betty Ford and other dignitaries. Interviews with attendees and footage of show. [Title misspelled]

10/28/1974. Washington International Horse Show, attended by Gerald and Betty Ford and other dignitaries. Interviews with attendees and footage of show. [Title misspelled]

11/12/1974. Hudson Marquez (TVTV) tour of the White House briefing room.

Shots of White House Press Room and adjacent offices; no briefing. Exterior shots of White House. Peter Lisagor watches TVTV tape and comments.

Press conference with Gerald Ford announcing appointments in the "energy administration," including Rogers Morton.

Lydia Preston giving tour of her home and the Art Barn in Peirce Mill, Rock Creek Park. Brief driving tour around Rock Creek Park and northwest DC.

Election night party for Ramsey Clark Senate campaign in New York City. Clark speaks at 00:10:24. Extended test segment at head of tape.

Rough edit of Byrd footage, including fiddling, campaign speeches, Congressional speeches.

Interview in car with Freda Reiter, courtroom sketch artist for Watergate. Surveilling exterior of courthouse.

Interviews with party attendees about Washington social scene.

Allen Rucker summarizes trip so far. Ford speech in Portland, Oregon. Ford arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Interviews with party attendees about Washington social scene, including the differences between gay and straight parties.

Interview with Betty Beale, Washington society columnist. See also 17422.

Title may be misleading; shot logs say "Lydia & Becky at Watergate." Content is interview with [unidentified] Lydia and Becky, both Washington society women, about their social life and pursuits.

10/1/1974. Portland, Oregon. Anti-Ford demonstration at Benson Hotel; "Working people must unite" chants. Auction at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Ford hikes football.

10/1/1974. Ford in Portland, Oregon. Interviews with local journalists about the presidential visit and the White House Press Corps.

Ford in Portland, Oregon. Interview with the Stevens family about Congress. Election watch party at Democratic Party of Oregon headquarters in Eugene, Oregon; election appears to be that of 11/5/1974 but shot log says 10/1/1974.

Interviews with tourists outside of the White House. Encounter with [park police?] asking them to stop recording at beginning of tape.

Interviews with police and tourists outside Capitol.

11/5/1974. Election watch party at Democratic Party of Oregon headquarters in Eugene, Oregon. Watching returns from election night (local and state races) with canvassers, union people, campaign workers, etc. Newly elected congressman Jim Weaver (D-OR) speaks at 00:15:01; interview with losing congressman John R. Dellenback (R-OR) at 00:23:48.

11/7/1974. Robert Byrd speech in West Virginia (continued in 17471).

11/7/1974. Continuation of Robert Byrd speech in 17470; shaking hands afterwards; driving tour.

Footage of an auction in Weston, West Virginia. Interviews with auction attendees about inflation and prices.

Square dance in Helvetia, West Virginia, continued from 17474. Interview with Jewell family about a dam project that could put their farm underwater (continued in 17475).

11/10/1974. Continued Jewell family interview from 17474. More interviews with farmers about money and inflation, dam, Byrd.

TVTV conversations in car. Interviews with cattle auction attendees about Congress, inflation, Byrd.

11/13/1974. Interview with reporter Pye Chamberlayne about Byrd, Congress, Supreme Court. Chamberlayne at work starting 00:17:02: recording radio segment while monitoring live Nelson Rockefeller hearings on television, filing typed story.

Test tape from head through 00:02:57. Staking out John Ehrlichman outside courthouse.

Test tape from head through 00:04:00, then audio content only through 00:05:06. Staking out John Ehrlichman outside courthouse; assorted street footage and short interviews; H.R. Haldeman declines interview at 00:11:30.

First part of tape is TVTV internal discussions about shooting plans and sleeping arrangements. 00:03:54 on is Robert Byrd press conference on 11/11/1974 (continued in 17482).

Robert Byrd press conference on 11/11/1974 (continued from 17481). Mingling after the briefing.

Interview with civil rights activist and District of Columbia House of Representatives delegate Walter Fauntroy; interview topics include Robert Byrd.

11/13/1974. Pye Chamberlayne recording radio segment and filing typed story while monitoring Nelson Rockefeller hearings on live television, specifically including exchange between Rockefeller and Robert Byrd.