The presidential press conference was initiated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the great interest of the press in his programs, the world situation, and himself. He held over a thousand of them. Presidents Truman and Eisenhower continued the practice, as did John F. Kennedy, who averaged one every sixteen days...
The presidential press conference was initiated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the great interest of the press in his programs, the world situation, and himself. He held over a thousand of them. Presidents Truman and Eisenhower continued the practice, as did John F. Kennedy, who averaged one every sixteen days during his abbreviated term. What seems utterly remarkable about these press conferences as we look back today is that they were unscripted and predicated on the proposition that the press was there to ask the hard questions and ferrit out important answers rather than to make the President look good. Sarah McClendon was the colorful dean of the White House press corps during all those years, and her pointed questioning bedeviled and amused presidents and other officials from 1944 on. Here President Eisenhower gamely states not only that press conferences are informative to him, but that he he enjoys them. It is clear that he agreed with their premise entirely and thought that they benefited the American people.
Typed Letter Signed on White House letterhead, April 30, 1956, to McClendon. “…You flatter me highly with your comments about my so-called “paintings,” but nonetheless I am glad that you like them. I also appreciate your references to the press conferences. As I have tried to explain, I find them valuable in that the questions serve to give some hint as to what the people of our country are thinking about. Sometimes they are very informative for me. Likewise, I find them stimulating and, more often than not, enjoyable. For fifteen years I have been questioned periodically by the press and during that time have formed many friends among reporters; beyond this there is nearly always something unexpected, interesting or even amusing that comes up in the normal press conference…”
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