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On this day in history, Jan. 25, 1961, JFK hosts first live televised presidential press conference

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President John F. Kennedy introduced a new era of White House communications when he hosted the first live televised presidential press conference on this day in history, Jan. 25, 1961.

“The fact of the matter is that [at] the time when President Kennedy started televised press conferences, there were only three or four newspapers in the entire United States that carried a full transcript of a presidential press conference,” Kennedy’s press secretary, Pierre Salinger, told the JFK Presidential Library in an oral history of the 35th president. 

“Therefore, what people read was a distillation … We thought that they should have the opportunity to see it in full.”

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The president had been sworn into office just five days earlier. 

The press conference was held at the new State Department auditorium in Washington, D.C. The Cold War hung heavily over the proceedings. 

The new president made a series of three announcements, the first related to atomic test ban discussions in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Semi-general view of press conference in Washington, D.C., as President Kennedy is shown at his first press conference since taking office. At the conference, which was televised live from the State Department's new auditorium, the president said he was asking that the Geneva negotiations with Russia for a nuclear test ban treaty be postponed until late March.

Semi-general view of press conference in Washington, D.C., as President Kennedy is shown at his first press conference since taking office. At the conference, which was televised live from the State Department’s new auditorium, the president said he was asking that the Geneva negotiations with Russia for a nuclear test ban treaty be postponed until late March.
(Getty Images)

He then addressed relief efforts amid the ongoing civil war in the Congo, which became a proxy war between competing Soviet- and U.S.-backed factions. 

Kennedy also announced that U.S. Air Force officers Capt. John R. McKone and Capt. Freeman “Bruce” Olmstead had been released by the Soviet Union after more than six months in captivity. 

Four other airmen were killed when their RB-47 bomber was shot down by a Soviet fighter jet over disputed airspace in the Bering Sea on July 1, 1960 — just weeks after the more famous U2 incident of May 1960. 

The Cold War hung heavily over the first televised presidential press conference.

The president then opened the floor for questions.  

“Do you conceive of circumstances which might warrant the resumption of such things as the U2 flight?” a reporter asked in the first media question posed to a president before a live TV audience.

(SEE the video below.)

“Flights of American aircraft penetrating the airspace of the Soviet Union have been suspended since May 1960,” Kennedy responded.

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“I have ordered that they not be resumed,” he also said.

A second reporter asked Kennedy about rumors that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev might visit the president in Washington in March to discuss nuclear disarmament following United Nations meetings in New York City

Released captains: John McKone, Bruce Olmstead, and their wives are honored at the White House by (left to right) Vice President Lyndon Johnson, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy. The RB-47 bomber flown by the U.S. airmen was shot down by a Soviet MiG fighter.

Released captains: John McKone, Bruce Olmstead, and their wives are honored at the White House by (left to right) Vice President Lyndon Johnson, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy. The RB-47 bomber flown by the U.S. airmen was shot down by a Soviet MiG fighter.
(Getty Images)

“I’ve not heard officially of any proposal by Mr. Khrushchev to come to the United States,” Kennedy said.

The immediacy of the event dramatically changed — or should have changed — the dynamic of the relationship between the seat of federal power and the press. 

“In the period preceding the Kennedy presidency, the rules governing press conferences favored the president.” — White House Historical Association

Independent media, when performing their duties, are meant to represent the American people and serve as a check on the president’s power. 

“In the period preceding the Kennedy presidency, the rules governing press conferences favored the president,” writes the White House Historical Association. 

“The sessions were off-the-record events from Woodrow Wilson through Harry Truman. If the president said something he believed unwise, he could alter the quote.”

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Woodrow Wilson held the first presidential news conference on March 15, 1913.

President Eisenhower held the first televised press conference on Jan. 19, 1955, using file footage. 

“President John F. Kennedy was the first to use the medium of television to address the American people live without delay or editing,” reports the United States Government Publishing Office. 

TV screen image of the presidential debates between Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon, left, and Sen. John F. Kennedy as Kennedy makes a point.

TV screen image of the presidential debates between Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon, left, and Sen. John F. Kennedy as Kennedy makes a point.
(Getty Images)

The use of television proved essential to Kennedy’s ascension to the Oval Office.

Most notably, most Americans agreed he projected better on television during a series of debates with vice president Richard Nixon in the fall of 1960. 

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His made-for-TV image proved critical in an election that JFK won by the slimmest of margins — he captured 49.7% of the popular vote, compared to 49.6% for Nixon. 

The Kennedy-Nixon debates “shifted how presidential campaigns were conducted, as the power of television took elections into Americans’ living rooms,” the National Constitution Center points out. 

Television also cemented Kennedy’s enduring image as a young, vibrant, energetic American leader, who served less than three years in office before his assassination on Nov. 22, 1963. 

President Kennedy was the first chief executive to allow his press conferences to be televised live from the State Dept. Building — or anywhere else.

President Kennedy was the first chief executive to allow his press conferences to be televised live from the State Dept. Building — or anywhere else.
(Getty Images)

“President Kennedy’s press conferences brought with them the glamour of a young leader, an activist policy agenda, and a tension between the president and his press corps,” claims the White House Historical Association. 

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“Young reporters flocked to Washington to cover the new president,” the same source said.

“Reporters were more willing to challenge the new president than was true in the Eisenhower years … The U2 spy plane incident changed the relationship for many reporters with their government. It was an incident where the U.S. government was caught in a lie.”

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On this day in history, Jan. 28, 1986, space shuttle Challenger explodes, shocking the nation

On this day in history, Jan. 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger — scheduled for a routine launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida — exploded after just 73 seconds in flight, killing all seven Americans on board.

The disaster shocked the nation — and led to an immediate pause in the space shuttle program.

The cause of the disaster was found to be the failure of the primary and secondary redundant O-ring seals in a joint in the shuttle’s right solid rocket booster (SRB).

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While the mission on that fateful day in 1986 was supposed to be like any other routine mission, unusually cold temperatures caused the external tank to explode seconds into takeoff — causing the orbiter to disintegrate and the spacecraft to explode, according to NASA. 

The space shuttle Challenger lifts off on Jan. 28, 1986. Carrying seven crew members, including teacher Christa McAuliffe, Challenger exploded just 73 seconds into its launch — killing all on board. 

The space shuttle Challenger lifts off on Jan. 28, 1986. Carrying seven crew members, including teacher Christa McAuliffe, Challenger exploded just 73 seconds into its launch — killing all on board. 
(Bob Pearson/AFP via Getty Images)

In addition to highly experienced astronauts, the Challenger carried a special passenger on board: teacher Christa McAuliffe. 

She was a social studies teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, chosen from among 10,000 others who applied to be the first private citizen in space, according to Britannica. 

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In her application, McAuliffe said she would keep a journal about her experience — and would include sections about her training, the flight experience and her feelings about returning to Earth.

One of the reasons McAuliffe was chosen, apparently, was her teaching experience — and the way she would be able to connect with children across the country. 

This November 1985 file provided by NASA shows the crew of the U.S space shuttle Challenger. Front row, from left: astronauts Mike Smith, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair; back row, from left: Ellison Onizuka, schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis and Judith Resnik.

This November 1985 file provided by NASA shows the crew of the U.S space shuttle Challenger. Front row, from left: astronauts Mike Smith, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair; back row, from left: Ellison Onizuka, schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis and Judith Resnik.
(NASA/AFP via Getty Images)

And that is why, on the day of the launch, scores of students in schools across the country watched as a teacher launched into space for the first time ever. 

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It was unfortunate timing for young children to watch this particular launch — something President Reagan was worried about when he was deciding how to address Americans later that evening.

Leading up to Challenger

Americans had been visiting space for decades before that — the first time in 1961, with U.S. Navy test pilot Alan Shepard. 

Shepard was the second man in space following the Soviet Union’s Yuri Gagarin just a mere weeks before. 

By 1969, space travel had progressed to visiting the moon — something the U.S. successfully completed with Apollo 11 that year.

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However, with this success, Americans began to fear the government was spending too much on space, according to NASA. 

A reusable manned spacecraft then became a focus by the Nixon administration, and the space shuttle program was born.

Christa McAuliffe (1948-1986), wearing a blue NASA jumpsuit, smiles in a studio portrait while holding a model of a space shuttle at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, on Sept. 26, 1985. She was the first private citizen to go into space on the shuttle.

Christa McAuliffe (1948-1986), wearing a blue NASA jumpsuit, smiles in a studio portrait while holding a model of a space shuttle at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, on Sept. 26, 1985. She was the first private citizen to go into space on the shuttle.
(Space Frontiers/Archive Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The Challenger’s first mission was in April 1983 — and it quickly became one of the most popular spacecrafts to be used in the following three years, according to NASA.

The annual State of the Union address for early 1986 had been scheduled to take place on the evening of the Challenger’s launch — but given the tragedy, President Reagan chose to delay the address by a week. 

“The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.”

Instead, that night, Reagan did address the nation but from the familiar Oval Office instead. 

President Reagan addresses the nation about the Challenger shuttle disaster, on Jan. 28, 1986, from the Oval Office of the White House.  

President Reagan addresses the nation about the Challenger shuttle disaster, on Jan. 28, 1986, from the Oval Office of the White House.  
(Diana Walker/Getty Images)

Reagan began by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’d planned to speak to you tonight to report on the State of the Union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans.”

He went on, “Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.”

Mandana Marsh holds her daughter, Molly, 4, as they watched TV coverage hours after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger inside their home in Concord, New Hampshire, on Jan. 28, 1986. When her mother explained what happened, young Molly asked,

Mandana Marsh holds her daughter, Molly, 4, as they watched TV coverage hours after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger inside their home in Concord, New Hampshire, on Jan. 28, 1986. When her mother explained what happened, young Molly asked, “Can’t Christa swim?” 
(Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

In his speech, Reagan also expressed a willingness to remain steadfast in the pursuit of space flight — but also, he focused on the families of those who were aboard the Challenger and on the children who were watching the flight from their classrooms or homes.

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“I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen,” Reagan told the country that night.

“The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave,” Reagan also said.

“The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future — and we’ll continue to follow them.”

On this day in history, Jan. 28, 1986, the Challenger spacecraft exploded — killing all seven passengers aboard. That evening, President Reagan addressed the nation from the Oval Office about the tragedy.  

On this day in history, Jan. 28, 1986, the Challenger spacecraft exploded — killing all seven passengers aboard. That evening, President Reagan addressed the nation from the Oval Office about the tragedy.  
(Getty Images)

The next mission launch was over two-and-a half years later, in September 1988 — named the “Return to Flight” mission. 

The mission lasted for four days and included 64 orbits around the planet.

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It ended with a successful landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, according to NASA. 

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JCPenney partners with shelters to help senior dogs like Kofi of Texas find a home

JCPenney is partnering with local shelters around the country to help adoptable senior dogs find their forever homes. 

The large retailer is taking its well-known JCPenney-style portraits of the dogs — so that interested adopters can step forward to help animals in need. 

Kofi is a spaniel mix at the Dallas Pets Alive organization in Dallas, Texas — and he desperately needs a home.

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Kofi is looking for a forever home where he could spend the last chapter of his life. 

He is well-behaved and considered docile — fully content with just sitting quieting next to his new owner, according to the organization.

Kofi is a senior spaniel mix who weighs about 35 pounds. He needs a forever home.

Kofi is a senior spaniel mix who weighs about 35 pounds. He needs a forever home.
(JCPenney Portraits by Lifetouch)

Kofi has a black-and-gold coloring and his fur is said to be silky soft — making him an easy dog to keep petting. 

He weighs roughly 35 pounds and enjoys going on walks, Fox News Digital is told.

“We’re excited to give the senior dogs in these shelters their chance to shine.”

He also gets along well with others — so having other pets or children in the house could be good for him. 

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Kofi is spayed, neutered, microchipped and up-to-date on all vaccines. 

JCPenney is partnering with local shelters around the country to help adoptable senior dogs find their forever homes. 

JCPenney is partnering with local shelters around the country to help adoptable senior dogs find their forever homes. 
(JCPenney Portraits by Lifetouch)

He is just one of the many dogs featured in JCPenney’s new campaign about shelter dogs and JCPenney Portraits by Lifetouch. 

Bill Cunningham, JCPenney’s vice president of marketing strategy, said the occasion is special for many reasons. 

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“We’re excited to give the senior dogs in these shelters, who are often less likely to be adopted, their chance to shine and encourage customers to get involved with their local communities to change a pet’s life for the better,” Cunningham said in a media statement. 

Kofi is located at Dallas Pets Alive, an organization in Dallas, Texas. 

Kofi is located at Dallas Pets Alive, an organization in Dallas, Texas. 
(JCPenney Portraits by Lifetouch)

The partnership runs from Jan. 24 through Feb. 28. 

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Those interested can visit JCP.com to see new adoptable pets … and some adorable portraits. 

JCPenney is partnering with local shelters across the country to try to help senior adoptable dogs find homes. 

JCPenney is partnering with local shelters across the country to try to help senior adoptable dogs find homes. 
(JCPenney Portraits by Lifetouch)

JCPenney will also be donating $1,000 to each of the 10 shelters it’s partnered with to help animals find homes.

The shelters are located in 10 different cities around the country: Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia and Phoenix. 

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For more information on Kofi, anyone interested can visit dallaspetsalive.org or email adopt@dallaspetsalive.org.

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They risked their lives for others: Author Richard Hurowitz remembers unsung heroes of the Holocaust

January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, designated as such by the United Nations. 

Why this date?  

On this date in history, Jan. 27, 1945, the infamous Nazi German slave labor and death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated by the Soviet army.

The day recalls the killing of six million Jews as well as millions of other people by the Nazi regime and collaborators.

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But there are scores of interconnected stories as well.

“During the Holocaust,” wrote Richard Hurowitz in a recent essay in The Wall Street Journal, “citizens from Denmark to Greece protected their Jewish neighbors from the Nazis by standing together.”

Richard Hurowitz's new book is

Richard Hurowitz’s new book is “In the Garden of the Righteous: The Heroes Who Risked Their Lives to Save Jews During the Holocaust.”
(Richard Hurowitz/Donna Newman)

Most of these heroic individuals were and are still largely unknown. 

Remembering the horrors of war — and chronicling how brave people, in the face of fear, brutality and cruelty, stood up for other human beings even when their own lives were on the line — is the job of historians, authors, journalists and others who believe the truth needs to be passed along to new generations.

“In the Garden of the Righteous” pays tribute to those who risked everything for others.

In this spirit, writer and investor Richard Hurowitz has just released a new book, “In the Garden of the Righteous: The Heroes Who Risked Their Lives to Save Jews During the Holocaust” (HarperCollins), which pays tribute to those who risked their very existence to help others in trouble.

Among them are Adolf and Maria Althoff, who hid Jewish acrobatic performers in plain sight from the Nazis — and Italian cycling champion Gino Bartali, who faked long-distance practice runs to sneak forged identity papers that saved hundreds of people.

Hurowitz, based in New York, is publisher of The Octavian Report, a quarterly “journal of ideas.” He is chief executive officer of Octavian and Company LLC, an investment firm.

Just ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Fox News Digital posed three questions to the author.

‘An under-covered topic’

Fox News Digital: Why did you write this book now? 

Richard Hurowitz: Rescue during the Holocaust and the courage of those who risked their lives to save Jews and others is an extremely under-covered topic — yet people find it enormously inspirational.  

Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg are well known, but beyond those two archetypes very few rescuers have gotten the acclaim they deserve.  

Author Richard Hurowitz told Fox News Digital that his new book "grew out of several profiles I wrote for newspapers of individual rescuers — and the response was extraordinary."

Author Richard Hurowitz told Fox News Digital that his new book “grew out of several profiles I wrote for newspapers of individual rescuers — and the response was extraordinary.”
(Courtesy Richard Hurowitz)

Some of the people rescued in my book were or went on to have enormous impact on the world — from the physicist Niels Bohr to the artist Mark Chagall to many members of royalty — while most were ordinary refugees.  

The book grew out of several profiles I wrote for newspapers of individual rescuers — and the response was extraordinary. 

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I think people are looking for stories of inspiration and courage during our own difficult times. 

At a time of rising bigotry, anti-Semitism, polarization and conflict, I think these stories are extremely timely.

‘I hope people are inspired’

Fox News Digital: If you wanted readers to have one memorable takeaway from your book, what would it be?

Hurowitz: I hope people are inspired by these stories and learn about some of history’s forgotten heroes. 

And I hope they are inspired and remember that there is good in the world and that everyone can make a difference.  

It is not just in times of utmost peril like the Second World War

Indeed, we can avoid our society heading in that direction by standing up for the values of compassion, kindness and tolerance.  

There were even communities in Europe during the war — such as Denmark or the village of Le Chambon in France — where the entire group stood together against the Nazis. And were able to save almost all their Jewish neighbors.  

So I hope the book is a message of hope — and [that it] offers lessons on how we can make our world a better place.

‘Rescues echo down through the generations’

Fox News Digital: What stays with you in terms of reporting and writing the book?

Hurowitz: I have had the profound experience, when I’ve written about rescuers, to hear from people I personally know who are alive today because their family was saved by them. 

Rescues echoes down through the generations. 

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There are possibly one million people alive today because of the 10 rescues profiled in the book. 

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And at least some of [these people] many of us probably know — and some of them have themselves done extraordinary things that would have been lost to us had it not been for courage eight decades ago.

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