The media always comes up with a handful of familiar names as potential candidates for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations. Who decides on this small group of names? Russell Baker wrote in the New York (NY) Times on December 14, 1963, that this kingmaker was called the “Great Mentioner.”
Political columnist David Broder credited Baker for the “Great Mentioner” and wrote in 1973 that “the list of presidential prospects is effectively closed. Most of the men and women who distinguish themselves as leaders in state and local government or in the House of Representatives and virtually all whose achievements are in non-governmental fields are excluded from the presidential race before it even begins. The Great Mentioner never mentions them.”
The fictional media “Great Mentioner” is usually discussed in regards to potential candidate names for presidential elections, but is infrequently used for gubernatorial and other elections.
Wikipedia: Russell Baker
Russell Wayne Baker (born August 14, 1925) is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning writer known for his satirical commentary and self-critical prose, as well as for his autobiography, Growing Up.
12 December 1963, Boston (MA) Herald, “The Observer: GOP Needs New and Sharper Presidential ‘Mentioner’” by Russell Baker, pg. 27, cols. 1-6:
WASHINGTON—Why doesn’t anyone ever “mention” Sen. Thomas H. Kutchel of California as a potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination?
And yet, no one ever “mentions” Kutchel as a candidate. Why not? It is one of the deeper mysteries of presidential politics. But the fact is that getting “mentioned” is the first essential step to the WHite House and one of the hardest. Who is the kingmaker who grants the supereme boon of “mention?” Nobody knows. Nobody has ever seen him, but there is not the slightest doubt about his existence.
The double irony for Cooper is that, fitted with a beard and a top hat, he could pass for Lincoln. Lincoln cuts no ice with the Great Mentioner.
30 December 1973, The Sunday Oregonian (Portland, OR), “List of presidential prospects seen as surprisingly small” by David Broder, pg. 2F, col. 5:
Years ago, Russell Baker of the New York Times invented a character he called the “Great Mentioner”—that spectral someone whose existence is implied when a journalist reports that so-and-so “is being mentioned for his party’s presidential nomination.”
Most often, the mentioner is the candidate himself, his press agent or the reporter writing the story.
But whatever his identity, the striking thing about the Great Mentioner is how few people ever receive the blessing of his notice.
But beyond these limited categories, the list of presidential prospects is effectively closed. Most of the men and women who distinguish themselves as leaders in state and local government or in the House of Representatives and virtually all whose achievements are in non-governmental fields are excluded from the presidential race before it even begins. The Great Mentioner never mentions them.
Old Faces of 1976:
A few thousand fairly well-chosen words on Jerry Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, Teddy Kennedy, George Wallace, Hubert Humphrey, Ronald Reagan, Ed Muskie, Scoop Jackson, George McGovern, Hugh Carey, Abe Beame, Jack Javits, Jerry Brown, and some other men you probably wouldn’t want your daughter to marry
By Richard Reeves
New York, NY: Harper & Row
There is some speculation and learned discourse on the role of the press in projecting potential candidates — Russell Baker, The New York Times resident humorist, has had fun creating The Great Mentioner who mystically begins promoting people for the presidency in columns and on the nightly news.
An Introductory Analysis of American Mass Communications
By Peter M. Sandman, David M. Rubin and David B. Sachsman
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
Political satirist Russell Baker calls the media “The Great Mentioner.” It was The Great Mentioner that first suggested George Romney as an ideal Republican presidential candidate for 1968. And it was The Great Mentioner that ruled Romney out of the race after he claimed he had been “brainwashed” by the U.S. military in Vietnam.
New York (NY) Times
November 8, 2004
The Great Mentioner
By WILLIAM SAFIRE
But that will not silence the Great Mentioner.You know how some people go through life basking in the glory of having been “mentioned for” some high post? My old colleague in Times columny, Russ Baker, conjured the oracle: the Great Mentioner. Today that crystal ball is in my court.
The Great Mentioner - who will be the GOP’s VP nominee? http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2012/04/the-great-mentioner.html?mbid=social_retweet … via @NewYorker
8:53 PM - 13 Apr 2012
The New Yorker
APRIL 13, 2012
THE GREAT MENTIONER
POSTED BY RYAN LIZZA
Many years ago, the author Russell Baker used the term “The Great Mentioner” to describe the mysterious source who plucks politicians from obscurity and “mentions” them to political journalists as contenders for higher office. The second the Presidential primaries end, the season of The Great Mentioner begins for Vice-Presidential running mates.
Nowadays, the process is a little less mysterious, and it’s even possible to quantify who’s getting mentioned.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Tuesday, June 10, 2014 • Permalink