Miller Center

LBJ on Ted Sorensen

Late in the evening, the President recorded a lengthy call of over 22 minutes with his confidants on the Bobby Baker scandal, in which an insurance salesmen had testified that he had given Johnson a kickback-a hi-fi stereo set-in exchange for Johnson purchasing a life insurance policy from him. The full conversation offers a sense of Johnson's relationship with his closest advisers, some of the ways he arrived at decisions, and his administration's complicated relationship with the press. In this edited snippet, Johnson worried that making public statements on the matter was a mistake, a sentiment echoed by Ted Sorensen. A few days earlier, Johnson had made a statement in a press conference, then left. Several reporters claimed he fled the room to avoid further questions. In the following clip, Johnson explained that Sorensen thought they were "the biggest damned fools he's ever dealt with" and that Sorensen "told me tonight he just thought I was a big, fat, cigar-puffing, potbellied numskull by following the advice to get out here in front of the press."

Date:  Jan 27, 1964
Participants:  Lyndon Johnson, Abe Fortas

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