JFK’s Live News Conference

On January 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy became the first president to deliver a live television news conference.

Giving the speech from the State Department auditorium, President Kennedy read pre-prepared statements about the famine in Congo, the release of two American aviators from Russian custody, and impending negotiations for an atomic test ban treaty. After he was done speaking, he then opened the floor up to questions from the press.

John F. Kennedy knew how important it would be for the citizens of the country to see their President in real-time.

Kennedy’s Press Secretary, Pierre Salinger, would speak on the topic, saying that “The fact of the matter is that the time when President Kennedy started televised press conferences there were only three or four newspapers in the entire United States that carried a full transcript of a presidential press conference. Therefore, what people read was a distillation… We thought that they should have the opportunity to see it in full.”[1]


[1] Pierre Salinger, Press Secretary to President Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Library Oral History Interview, jfklibrary.org

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