JFK HELD HIS LAST NEWS CONFERENCE 50 YEARS AGO TODAY
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy held his 64th and final news conference in the State Department Auditorium here in Washington 50 years ago at 11 a.m., November 14, 1963.
President Kennedy, who gave no opening statement, was asked...
"It now seems unlikely that you will get...your tax bill or your civil rights bill in this session of Congress. Does that disturb you?"
"Yes...both these bills should be passed. The tax bill has been before Congress for nearly a year (and) the civil rights bill...for a much shorter time. There may be a very long debate."
Later in the conference, the following question was put to the President...
"The Fred Korth* and Bobby Baker** cases have prompted some serious questions about the moral and ethical climate in Washington. What is your assessment?"
"There are always bound to be in the Government (and other areas) people who can't stand the pressure of opportunity...but the important point is what action is taken against them.
I think that this administration has been very vigorous in its action, and I think that we have tried to set a responsible standard.
Mr. Baker is now being investigated, and I think we will know a good deal more about (him) before we are through. Other people may be investigated as time goes on. We just try to do the best we can."
*Fred Korth (1909-1998) was appointed Secretary of the Navy by JFK in 1962. He was previously Asst. Sec of the Army (1952-53) and president of Continental National Bank in Ft. Worth, TX.
When General Dynamics won the government contract for the TFX fighter plant, at $6.5 billion, the largest contract for military airplanes in US history, and it was learned that the company's principal monetary source was the Continental National Bank, Mr. Korth resigned as Sec. of the Navy.
**Bobby Baker was born in Pickens, SC in 1928. He became a US Senate page in 1942 and Secretary to the Majority Leader, LBJ, in the 1950s. BB was investigated by the Senate on accusations of bribery and he resigned on Oct 7, 1963. The Senate was in the process of looking into LBJ's connection with BB on Nov 22, 1963. When LBJ assumed the presidency, this investigation was postponed and eventually dropped.
The President was also asked questions about America's military role in Southeast Asia. One of these was...
"In view of the current situation in South Vietnam, do you still expect to bring back 1000 troops before the end of the year?"
"We are going to bring back several hundred before the end of the year, but..on the question of the exact number...we (will) wait until...November 20."
Thurston Clarke writes in "JFK's Last Hundred Days,"...
"Kennedy's sixty-fourth press conference was a grim affair. He was mad at Congress for cutting his foreign aid budget."
Clarke goes on to say that while the President's responses seem "cool and reasonable" in the transcript, he appeared "nervous and tense" on TV.
Interestingly, Clarke writes about a party in the evening where UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, who had been spat on and hit in the head with a placard while visiting Dallas, warned JFK about visiting the city on his Texas trip.
Clarke says that Jackie's designer, Oleg Cassini, overheard the conversation and took the President aside and asked...
"'Why do you go? Your own people are saying you should not.'"
President Kennedy, Clarke writes,
"stared back wordlessly and shrugged."