148. Memorandum From the President’s Personal Secretary (Roberts) to the President’s Press Secretary (Reedy)1


Rick Smith (NY Times) called saying he had been talking with you, Jack Valenti, Walter Jenkins about how the President works and how information flows to him.

He said he wanted to check with me on some specifics about the “Night Reading Envelope” that had been mentioned to him—

I told him I was on a “rush” and couldn’t take a minute right then to talk—could I call him back.

FYI, the night reading comes about this way:

All day long papers come into the office to my desk, from various sources—from WH staff members, from Cabinet, from various Depts [Page 349] and Agencies, from mail, telegraph and from notes resulting from telephone messages and/or conversations.

All day, in the light of the day’s program and demands on the President’s time, I sift, sort and shift—taking in some items through the day and giving them to the President in person or putting them in various spots on his desk (spots having meaning as to urgency) and into my “stack” for consideration at end of day for night reading.

I try to keep the night reading from getting too bulky—sometimes hold items not requiring a decision or a response (nor needed as information for decision making) to a night when bulk is less, evening schedule lighter for example—I try to keep Monday nights’ night reading lighter because of the early hour of the regular Tues Legislative Leaders b’fast and particularly so if there is a late evening event on Monday night.

Intelligence reports, position papers, reports that have tedious detail and need uninterrupted time for reading and study make up the body of the night reading envelope. And I try to lighten this “load” by putting in the thank-you notes, happy little items of information etc. that are good to go to sleep on.

In addition, items needing decisions for early the next day which have not been made today go in—each covered with a “brief” with a space for him to check his desired action to save him time from writing (since he has no secretary to dictate to when going thru his night reading).

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Press Office Files, Box 135, Bits and Pieces of Useful Information. No classification marking.