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Betsy's Trivia: Michigan Edition

Answer: Senator Blair Moody (D-MI)

Michigan Senator Blair Moody has gone down in Meet the Press record books for a unique feat: he was the first guest to appear on the program as a journalist and later as a political officeholder. Moody was a reporter for over twenty years before his headline appearance on Meet the Press -- as a foreign correspondent during World War II and later the Washington correspondent for his native Detroit News. When he became a senator, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette described Moody as “one of the few genuine, honest-to-goodness working newspapermen … a major leaguer in the business”  – a reputation that Moody bore out on Meet the Press in the 1940s.  During his Meet the Press reporting days he was an outspoken member of the panel, often using his knowledge of Washington to sharply question the political guests on the issues. In his last turn as a reporter on the program, Moody got into an exchange with Senator Theodore Green of the Foreign Relations Committee about the McCarthy investigations. You can watch a clip from the 1950 interview below.


Less than a year later, Moody found himself on the other side of the Meet the Press panel. On April 22, 1951, Michigan Governor Mennen Williams appointed Moody to the Senate as a Democrat to fill the seat of the late Arthur H. Vandenberg. The month after he took the seat, the new Senator, in the words of moderator Lawrence Spivak, would “see what it is like to receive a few questions” on Meet the Press. Spivak noted ominously at the beginning of the show, “One thing is certain about a newspaperman. He is on the record over a long period of time.” And the reporters on the Meet the Press panel went on to hold their former colleague to his record and press him with questions for the rest of the program. But the first question of the 1951 show was an unusual one. Reporter Joseph Harsch of the Christian Science Monitor said that before “we get into serious things very quickly,” he had a question for Moody that he had always wanted to know and never had a chance to ask: “what happens in the Senatorial cloakrooms between Senators when there are no newspapermen around?”

Watch Senator Moody’s response, as well as his discussion with Spivak about newspapermen in the Senate, in the clip below.