Friday, November 9, 2018

President-elect Kennedy Meets the Press

I was only ten years old, but I remember the post-election remarks given by John F. Kennedy on television on this day in 1960.  The president-elect was driven through a crowd in a white Lincoln Continental from Hyannis Port to the nearby National Guard Armory in Hyannis.  The reporters there gave him a standing ovation before he read congratulatory telegrams from Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower, thanked supporters, gave a brief acceptance speech, and ended by saying, “and now my wife and I prepare for a new administration and a new baby.”  John F. Kennedy, Jr., was born two weeks later.

This session would be JFK’s first as he transitioned from candidate to president.  Over the course of his 1,036-day presidency, he held sixty-four news conferences (about one every two weeks) at which he was well prepared and witty.  The typical venue was the cavernous auditorium at the State Department. 

Kennedy, who was once briefly a reporter himself (Hearst), had a good relationship with the press though—as with all presidents—it could be testy.  He understood the role of the media in American society. 

I have been by the historic armory several times over the years.  I am struck by how small the building is; it seemed enormous to me on television fifty-eight years ago.  Unfortunately, the armory has fallen into disrepair and is largely abandoned, but apparently there are efforts underway to rehabilitate it.  I certainly hope so.

Here is a photograph of the armory that I took earlier this year.

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