HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

February 26, 2007, Herald Journal

McCarthy’s ‘lost magic’ found on the Internet


In December of 1971 Democratic presidential candidate and former Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy where on the campaign trail in the upper Midwest.

This would be the second of five attempts for the presidency that McCarthy would make. He did have a very strong showing in the 1968 New Hampshire primary against the sitting president at the time – Lyndon Johnson.

That primary gave his campaign some national momentum but in the end, it was Hubert Humphrey who became the Democratic nominee to face Richard Nixon in the presidential election of 1968.

People should not confuse this McCarthy with a Senator Joseph McCarthy – who sought out Communist spies within the federal government.

In searching for column ideas on the Internet, I came across the Vanderbilt Television News Archives: http://tvnews.vanderbilt.edu/.

The Vanderbilt Television News Archives is located in Nashville, Tennessee at the Heard Library of Vanderbilt University.

They have an amazing collection (over 30,000) of all the nightly news programs broadcasted by the national television networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC since August 5, 1968.

The Vanderbilt News Archives also includes most major speeches given by U.S. Presidents and each Republican and Democratic political convention beginning in 1968.

These news broadcasts are stored on VHS tape.

Individuals may request to loan out VHS tapes for study, classroom instruction, and research – for a modest fee.

While I was browsing through the archives looking at some of the news footages they had available, I suddenly remembered something about one of my siblings – something that had a direct link to Eugene McCarthy and the place that he was campaigning in Minnesota on Dec. 2, 1971.

I made use of the Vanderbilt’s search engine and after finding the correct search terms I was surprised to see, no more than that – I was shocked to see and have confirmed – a news event my family had known about but never saw.

“I really need to try and get this segment on tape,” I thought to myself while still looking at the search results.

I did send for the tape – all five minutes worth. Two weeks later it arrived.

I put the tape into the VHS player, sat down and began to watch the news segment I requested from the Archives.

Here I am sitting in my chair watching Walter Cronkite and the CBS Evening News broadcast from Dec. 2, 1971. The film was in black and white but the picture and sound quality were excellent.

The news video then switches from Walter Cronkite to the CBS news reporter who is giving his account of what is happening.

Eugene McCarthy is now speaking from behind a podium in front of the many college students in attendance at an auditorium in Mankato.

After McCarthy’s speech, the camera switches to outside the auditorium where a group of college students are gathered. CBS News reporter Jeff Williams is interviewing a young college student by the name of Tom Ollig.

On December 2, 1971 Eugene McCarthy was campaigning at Mankato State College where my brother Tom was attending his first year there.

I realized I was the only member of my family to see what had been broadcast on national television –over 35 years ago.

My mother and father usually watched the CBS Evening News, but that evening they had the NBC News on.

We did not find out until later that my brother had been on the CBS Evening News that night.

After watching the tape I drove to Winsted and showed the video to Tom (who watched it twice) and my mother.

I made DVD copies before I needed to mail the VHS tape back -- with a note of thanks to the Vanderbilt Television News Archives.

There was one more thing I wanted to do.

Recently, I have been writing columns about how we are able to upload family and other videos onto the Internet.

Many of us are aware of how much of our social, technical and political history during the last 100 years has been recorded on film.

This recorded history is slowly being “shifted” to video websites like YouTube and Google -- which allows anyone with Internet access to view them.

I made up my mind to put into action what I have been writing about and get a piece of family and political history on the Internet.

I chose to use Google, mostly because people are more familiar with it.

In order to upload videos to Google you need to set up a user account – which I proceeded to do.

I needed to use a program called “DVD Decrypter” to convert the existing DVD format into something that could be saved and viewed with my computer’s media player.

The DVD video file format I ended up using was “.vob” which means: “Video Object” or “Versioned Object Base.” This DVD file played fine on my computer, but is not the file format of choice when uploading to Google – as I soon found out.

To upload a video file to Google I needed to convert it to an AVI, MPEG, or QuickTime file.

I choose the MPEG file format and then proceeded to find a program on the Internet that I could download to make the video and audio stream conversions.

I found one called “YASA VOB to MP4 Converter.” located at http://www.yasasoft.com/.

I used the program and it worked . . . it converted the file from vob to mp4 (MPEG-4).

It was now time to try to upload my video to Google.

I used the “upload form” program on Google to select the video file from my computer and filled out the name, title, genre, language and type of access.

After agreeing to the upload terms and conditions, I clicked the “Upload Video” button and in about 5 minutes, the video stored on my computer was in the video database of Google.

I needed to wait for about 30 minutes as Google kept showing the status of my video as “processing” before it became “available” for public viewing.

I watched the uploaded version on the Google video website and everything must have worked because the video’s picture and sound quality turned out great.

I e-mailed the link to family members who were able to see the video for the first time.

The video is now in Cyberspace. You can see it by going to: http://video.google.com and in the search terms enter: “Eugene McCarthy campaigns in 1971” and hit enter.

This is the direct URL to the video on google: “http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7194284326097200219” which you can copy and paste into your web browser.