Despite the numbing volume of coverage devoted to the Kennedy assassination this month, the programming has touched only tangentially on what might be the 35th president’s most enduring legacy: defining the budding relationship between politics and the nascent medium of television.
In presidential terms, much of John Kennedy’s contribution was indecisive, or at best unfinished. Yes, he stared down the Soviets, but it fell to Lyndon Johnson to enact the Great Society programs, and debate lingers over whether the young president would have escalated the war in Vietnam had he survived.
As one historian says in “JFK,” a four-hour PBS documentary, “We will never know whether he would have been a great president. … We didn’t have that chance.”
What Kennedy set in motion regarding television, however, has since snowballed. Even the differences between the age in which he served and the modern landscape are illuminating.
For starters, »
- Brian Lowry
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