Walter Shapiro has written a piece for us this morning looking back at JFK's old press conferences. Were they really that impressive? Will Obama be able to perform in the same way? Here's the beginning of the article:
With Barack Obama's first news conference slated for tonight at 8 p.m. eastern, it is a safe bet that--like on Inauguration Day--the most over-used word in the English language Monday will be "Kennedy-esque." There will be paeans to John Kennedy's style and grace in the press room, as well as questions about whether Obama could ever possibly match them. But were JFK's press conferences really that remarkable? Well, yes. Just as Babe Ruth remains baseball's greatest slugger even though his home-run records have been eclipsed by chemically fueled parvenus, John Kennedy reigns as the master of the live presidential news conference, an art form that he and press secretary Pierre Salinger invented. With an estimated 65 million Americans watching the 6 p.m. telecast, JFK strode onto the stage of the State Department Auditorium on January 25, 1961, and made history. As a breathless TV newscaster said on air, "This is being presented live for the first time. In previous years, presidential news conferences have been recorded and filmed, but never broadcast or televised live."