On this day in history, Jan. 25, 1961, JFK hosts first live televised presidential press conference
January 25, 2023 at 05:02
President John F. Kennedy introduced a new era of White House communications when he hosted the first live televised presidential press conference on this day in history, Jan. 25, 1961.
"The fact of the matter is that [at] 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," Kennedy's press secretary, Pierre Salinger, told the JFK Presidential Library in an oral history of the 35th president.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY, JAN. 24, 2003, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY ESTABLISHED AS CABINET AGENCYThe president had been sworn into office just five days earlier.
The press conference was held at the new State Department auditorium in Washington, D.C.
The new president made a series of three announcements, the first related to atomic test ban discussions in Geneva, Switzerland.
He then addressed relief efforts amid the ongoing civil war in the Congo, which became a proxy war between competing Soviet- and U.S.-backed factions.
The Cold War hung heavily over the first televised presidential press conference.
"I’ve not heard officially of any proposal by Mr. Khrushchev to come to the United States," Kennedy said.
"In the period preceding the Kennedy presidency, the rules governing press conferences favored the president."
"In the period preceding the Kennedy presidency, the rules governing press conferences favored the president," writes the White House Historical Association.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY, SEPT. 26, 1960, KENNEDY AND NIXON BATTLE IN FIRST TELEVISED PRESIDENTIAL DEBATEWoodrow Wilson held the first presidential news conference on March 15, 1913.
President Eisenhower held the first televised press conference on Jan. 19, 1955, using file footage.