JFK Publishes An Article On Television And American Politics - 11/14/1959

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On this day in history, the future president of the Unites States, then a senator from Massachusetts, by the name John F. Kennedy wrote an article, which appears in an issue of TV Guide. Kennedy's article carefully examined the influence of television, which was somewhat a new technology as at the time on America's political campaign

Kennedy noted in the article that television has the ability to reveal the identity between political campaigns and propaganda's right to the public while also shedding more light on the personalities of each contestant. He explained further that the a smooth or eloquent orator who jumps around shouting at the top of his voice just to get the attention of the masses cannot do better than a friendlier, honest and intelligent candidate who appears composed and displays strength and compassion. It is obvious Kennedy tried to express the latter. 

In the article, Kennedy made comparisons with President Woodrow Wilson's long cross-country railroad journeys in order to promote his League of Nations proposal in 1919, which eventually stopped when Wilson suffered a stroke as a result of the stress, to President Eisenhower's ability to reach millions of voters with a television appearance of 15-minute.

The following year, Kennedy faced his Republican opponent, Vice President Richard Nixon in the country's' first-ever presidential campaign debates to be broadcasted. During the debates, it was obvious that Kennedy is a master at projecting the ideal presidential image. He displayed a calm character and replied to questions with intelligence, while his opponent Nixon appeared nervous without proper grooming. At the end, Kennedy won the race. Even after becoming the president, Kennedy did not fail in exhibiting his skills at handling the press and facing the camera when needed. He had a cordial relationship with the journalist

It is worthy to note that the article did address the dangers of mixing mass media with politics. He noted that public relations experts might be hired during political campaigns to teach the candidate on what to say, how to say it when addressing the public, thereby deceiving the public. He also gave warnings to Americans to be careful and cautious about what they watch on TV, that the power to detect lies is in their hands, and to demand legislation when needed. He also stressed that the public should have it in mind that political campaigns can be fixed just like game shows.

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Meg Wong

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