On June 16, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy made history by being the first presidential candidate to appear on a late-night television program.
We must remember the times.
In the year 1960, a political candidate making an appearance on a late-night entertainment show was something which had not been done … because, in many circles, such an appearance would be frowned upon.
For example, as Frank Rich wrote in the New York Times, “By the standards of 1960, a Presidential candidate’s appearance on an entertainment program was considered a bit shocking.”
John F. Kennedy would become known as the first “TV President.”
We have only a short clip from the show, but it is amazing how the statements Senator Kennedy made, resonate so clearly with our times, with our world, today.
His response to questions regarding why he went into politics, the responsibility of the United States in world affairs, the responsibility of the office of President, the issue of enemy countries sending “fellow travelers” into the United States, and how important it is for the United States to set an example which citizens of other countries would want to follow.
Senator Kennedy stated that “in the final analyses, they have to believe in freedom themselves. I don’t think you can sell freedom … In the long run, the best asset we have is the desire of people to be free.”
In other words, you can’t “inject” democracy.
For the record, this was 58 years ago.
Yes … 58 years ago.