MacNeil’s reports, filed with his senior editors, comprise the heart of his collection. They are typed and detailed and cover a vast array of topics. These reports document the interplay between MacNeil, the reporter, and his editors. Further, they include off-the-record information as context for published stories. Together, the reports portray the time period in a personal, colorful, and informed way. The reporting is particularly strong for the start and end of individual Congresses, the various State of the Union addresses, the relationship between presidents and Congress, lobbying, the Watergate scandal, Senate consideration of the Panama Canal treaties and the SALT II treaty, the President Jimmy Carter’s proposal to sell military aircraft to three Middle East nations, the Iranian hostage crisis, Senator Ted Kennedy’s career and presidential hopes (see October 1979), various proposals for congressional reform, President Ronald Reagan’s budget and tax reduction proposals (Reagonomics) and the Democratic response (1981-82), Social Security reform efforts (1982), the congressional response to the attack on U.S. Marines in Lebanon (1983), and the state of ethics in America and in government (1987).
In cases pre-dating MacNeil’s reporting for Time, which began in 1958, occasional reports by MacNeil’s colleagues are included. MacNeil requested these reports as reference material for subsequent stories he authored.
Approximately three linear feet of MacNeil’s reports have been withdrawn from research because of their fragile condition. Preservation photocopies replace them in the series.
Organized chronologically, a list of the subjects his reporting covered is part of this guide and follows. Although this series is substantial, there are apparent gaps, suggesting that not all of MacNeil’s reports survived in his collection. There is no reporting related to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example.