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JFK Centennial

Written by guest contributor Kandie Stroud

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews joined Former MD Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and other family members in honoring President John Kennedy at the Woman’s National Democratic Club May 8th. The evening, which marked the slain president’s 100th birthday and focused on his jocular relationship with the press, opened with a grainy yet humorous video collection of clips from Kennedy press conferences which was underscored by amusing stories related by former staffers, political colleagues and even White House correspondents who covered him.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend spoke of how her uncle, the President, liked to hang out with the Washington Post’s Ben Bradlee and his wife Tony, Columnist Joe Alsop and his wife Susan Mary and Pulitzer Prize winner journalist Charlie Bartlett and his wife Martha. JFK and Jackie would regularly dine with their reporter friends. Townsend pointed out that JFK had once been a journalist before he ran for the House of Representatives and that Jackie had been a photo journalist for the Washington Times-Herald. Added Matthews: “He had the gift of a journalist which is love of gossip, love of news. He loved getting everything first. And that is the great appetite of a journalist—‘I want the story first– I want to know what everybody is up to… totally. I love knowing what’s going on.‘ Tim Russert had that too—the ability to just eat up the news and to be first with it. And I think Kennedy had that.”