#TBT: What do Kennedy and Trump have in common? Current events

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Story highlights

  • JFK held the first live televised presidential news conference
  • Many of the issues are still the ones we hear today
  • Wait until you read the last question

(CNN)A January 25 presidential news conference touched on atomic weapons, Cuban-American relations, electoral reform and trade. But it wasn't President Donald Trump at the podium -- it was President John F. Kennedy. This news conference occurred almost six decades ago, in 1961. The more things change, the more they stay the same, am I right?

This news conference, which took place at the State Department days after Kennedy's inauguration, was the first of its kind to be televised live. President Dwight D. Eisenhower had taped some news conferences, but they were aired later. The press corps, as it is wont to do, asked about the history being made:
"Mr. President, there has been some apprehension about the instantaneous broadcasts of Presidential press conferences such as this one, and the contention being that an inadvertent statement is no longer correctable, as in the old days, could possibly cause some grave consequences," a reporter asked.
    There was a time where inadvertent statements were correctable and their consequences were topics of concern? What a time to be alive!
    "This system has the advantage of providing more direct communication," Kennedy replied, in the age before Twitter.
    It's almost eerie how many of the same issues are still presenting themselves today. If Trump did a news conference today, you could probably swap out Russian President Vladimir Putin's name with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's and ask almost all of the same questions.
    For example: "Under what conditions would you consider reopening diplomatic relations with Cuba, and are you considering such a step now?"
    "We are not considering such a step, at the present time," Kennedy replied in part.
    China, imports, the workforce, "refugee problems," the election -- this news conference had it all!
    Kennedy even addressed the classic Q&A problem: "That is a statement, really not completely a question."
    Looking back, the final question might give you shivers.
    "Without being morbid, have you given any consideration to the problem which President Eisenhower resolved with his vice president; that is, the problem of succession in the case of injury, illness or some incapacitation? Have you thought of some agreement with the vice president, such as your predecessor had, or some other?"
    "Yes -- well, I haven't developed that at this present time, though I do think that President Eisenhower's decision was a good one, and I think it would be a good precedent. Nothing has been done on it yet, but I think it would be a good matter which we could proceed on," Kennedy responded.
    The 25th Amendment wasn't adopted until after Kennedy's assassination. Sometime after this news conference, Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson did enter into an agreement about succession. Johnson took the oath of office aboard Air Force One after Kennedy's death in 1963.