Faded memories of JFK

I had been with WSB-Television in Atlanta less than a year when John Fitzgerald Kennedy took the oath of office to become President of the USA.  It was 50 years ago today (Thursday).  Georgia’s 12 electoral votes went to the Massachussets junior senator, but Kennedy had a very narrow margin of popular votes nationwide over Richard Nixon.   The difference was 0.1 percent.  WSB-Television had a unique insight into JFK’s campaign.   J. Leonard Reinsch was our top executive.   He was also in charge of  broadcasting from the Democratic national convention and making Kennedy look good in his debates with Richard Nixon.  Reinsch would occasionly give the WSB news staff off-the-record briefings on what was going on behnd the scenes, but he also emphasized that we should cover the election accurately, fairly and impartially.

Historians have written that Georgia played a unique role in helping Kennedy achieve his narrow victory.    A DeKalb county judge had ordered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr to jail on a minor traffic charge.   JFK’s brother, Robert Kennedy, called then Georgia Democratic Governor Ernest Vandiver.    He asked Vandiver to intervene with the judge.   The Governor did.   Dr. King was freed.    A very large majority of blacks voted for JFK.  Some say it provided the margin for him to become the 44th President of the USA.


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