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The President and the Press:
Address before the American Newspaper
President John F. Kennedy
New York City, April 27, 1961
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Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:
I appreciate very much your generous invitation to be here tonight.
You bear heavy responsibilities these days and an article I read some
time ago reminded me of how particularly heavily the burdens of present day
events bear upon your profession.
You may remember that in 1851 the New York Herald Tribune under the
sponsorship and publishing of Horace Greeley, employed as its London
correspondent an obscure journalist by the name of Karl Marx.
We are told that foreign correspondent Marx, stone broke, and with a
family ill and undernourished, constantly appealed to Greeley and managing
editor Charles Dana for an increase in his munificent salary of $5 per
installment, a salary which he and Engels ungratefully labeled as the
"lousiest petty bourgeois cheating."
But when all his financial appeals were refused, Marx looked around for
other means of livelihood and fame, eventually terminating his relationship
with the Tribune and devoting his talents full time to the cause that would
bequeath the world the seeds of Leninism, Stalinism, revolution and the cold
If only this capitalistic New York newspaper had treated him more
kindly; if only Marx had remained a foreign correspondent, history might
have been different. And I hope all publishers will bear this lesson in mind
the next time they receive a poverty-stricken appeal for a small increase in
the expense account from an obscure newspaper man.
I have selected as the title of my remarks tonight "The President and
the Press." Some may suggest that this would be more naturally worded "The
President Versus the Press." But those are not my sentiments tonight.
It is true, however, that when a well-known diplomat from another
country demanded recently that our State Department repudiate certain
newspaper attacks on his colleague it was unnecessary for us to reply that
this Administration was not responsible for the press, for the press had
already made it clear that it was not responsible for this Administration.
Nevertheless, my purpose here tonight is not to deliver the usual
assault on the so-called one party press. On the contrary, in recent months
I have rarely heard any complaints about political bias in the press except
from a few Republicans. Nor is it my purpose tonight to discuss or defend
the televising of Presidential press conferences. I think it is highly
beneficial to have some 20,000,000 Americans regularly sit in on these
conferences to observe, if I may say so, the incisive, the intelligent and
the courteous qualities displayed by your Washington correspondents.
Nor, finally, are these remarks intended to examine the proper degree
of privacy which the press should allow to any President and his family.