1962 December 6

OK to Lie to the American People Says Kennedy Administration Official


Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs in President John Kennedy’s administration, stated on this day that it was OK for the government to lie to the American people. At a meeting with the press sponsored by the Deadline Club in New York City, he claimed that the government had an inherent right “to lie to save itself.” It was not clear whether he was referring to saving the country or the administration.

The statement was part of an ongoing controversy over “news management” by the Kennedy administration, which began immediately after Kennedy became President (see January 25, 1961) and continued with President Kennedy’s notorious (and quickly dropped) proposal on April 27, 1961, that the press censor itself in matters of national security.

Read the memoirs of President Kennedy’s Press Secretary: Pierre Salinger, With Kennedy (1966)

Watch Pierre Salinger discuss “The President and the Press”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FhH351wYvk

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