According to biographers, Harding got along well with the press more than any other President, being a former newspaper man. Reporters admired his frankness, candor, and his confessed limitations. He took the press behind the scenes and showed them the inner circle of the presidency. Harding, in November 1921, also implemented a policy of taking written questions from reporters during a press conference. Harding's relationship with Congress, however, was strained and he did not receive the traditional honeymoon given to new Presidents. Prior to Harding's election the nation was adrift; President Woodrow Wilson had been ill by a debilitating stroke for eighteen months and before that Wilson had been in Europe for several months attempting to negotiate a peace settlement after World War I. By contrast, at the March 4, 1921 Inaugural, Harding looked strong, with grey hair and a commanding physical presence. Wilson's successor stressed the importance of the ceremonial aspects of the office of President. This emphasis fulfilled his desire to travel the breadth of the country to officiate at formal functions.
Motion picture footage of US President Warren G. Harding
Although Harding was committed to putting the "best minds" on his cabinet, he often rewarded those persons who were active and contributed to his campaign by appointing them to high federal department positions. For instance, Wayne Wheeler, leader of the Anti-Saloon League was literally allowed by Harding to dictate who would serve on the Prohibition Commission. Graft and corruption charges permeated Harding's Department of Justice; bootleggers confiscated tens of thousands cases of whiskey through bribery and kickbacks.
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