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Broadcast Firsts

Political Broadcasts - A special meeting of the Eisenhower administration cabinet held October 25, 1954 was the first time a US cabinet session was televised. The event featured then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles conveying his summary report on agreements signed in Paris, France. With the exclusion of vice-president Richard M. Nixon, all members were present. The meeting was carried over all ABC, NBC and CBS radio and television networks.

(Congress) Television was first brought from Washington to the homes of the American people on the opening of the joint session of the 80th Congress on Jan 3, 1947. In 1986, television cameras were placed in the Senate chambers on a trial six month experiment, thus allowing the American public see their politician's earn their paycheck. This service came to be known as CSPAN.

According to a survey conducted by the University of Maryland, 28% of the delegates who watched the political channel changed their opinion on either a candidate or an issue after hearing/viewing information on CSPAN.

(Conventions) The Republican National Convention held in Philadelphia on June 24-29, 1940, became the first political convention to be televised. It broadcast the nomination of Wendell Lewis Willkie (New York) and Charles Linza McNary (Oregon) as the Republican Party's choice for president and vice-president. Broadcast was covered by New York City station W2XBS.

(Debate) The first televised presidential political debate was telecast September 26, 1960 at 9:30 P.M.. The contestants included the Republican candidate, vice-president Richard M. Nixon and Democratic candidate, Senator John F. Kennedy. This face-to-face discussion originated live from Chicago and was telecast nationally into the homes of all American citizens lucky enough to own a television. Howard K. Smith of CBS Network was the moderator of these debates of which Kennedy opened and Nixon closed.

(Inauguration) Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first president sworn in on national television on January 20, 1953. (Interviews) Edward R. Murrow the host of the popular 1950s televised interview program PERSON TO PERSON conducted an interview with Cuban Leader, Fidel Castro who appeared in his pajamas on February 6, 1959. On October 22, 1974 Castro gave his first in-depth interview since 1968 when Dan Rather visited with him on the CBS Network report "Castro, Cuba & the U.S.A."

(Press Coverage) President John F. Kennedy's first press conference (covered by all three networks) was the first live telecast of a presidential news conference. Broadcast on January 25, 1961, the conference was held in the auditorium of the State Department building in Washington, D.C.. A total of 31 questions were asked over a 38-minute period. Before this press conference, the typical Presidential conferences had been filmed and scheduled for later broadcast to the public. The first such filmed news conference for television was held on January 19, 1955 in the treaty room of the State Department building.. It featured President Dwight D. Eisenhower talking to the press for the total of 33 minutes. The conference was edited to 28 minutes before the broadcast.

(Presidential Appearances) Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first President to appear on television. On April 30, 1939, Roosevelt spoke at the opening session of the New York World's Fair on the exposition grounds in Flushing, Long Island. The event was transmitted/received via two mobile vans owned by station WNBT of the National Broadcasting Company.

President Harry S. Truman made his first "live" television appearance at a Navy Day speech in New York's Central Park on October 27, 1945.

The first regular coast-to-coast telecast on September 4, 1951 was President Harry S. Truman's address at the opening of the Japanese Peace Treaty Conference in San Francisco. Broadcast by all four networks (ABC, DuMont, CBS, NBC). President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first President to appear in "color" on television over the NBC network. This historic event occurred during his June 7, 1955 commencement address to the graduates of the Military Academy at West Point, New York.


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