Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

February 28, 1952

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

[1.] I asked Mr. Paul Walker to be Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and I am sending down the name of Robert T. Bartley to fill the vacancy.

Q. Would you spell his last name, please, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. B-a-r-t-l-e-y.

Q. B-a-r-t?

THE PRESIDENT. H-e-y.

Q. Do you know where he is from ?

THE PRESIDENT. Texas, I guess. Yes, he comes from Bonham, Tex.

Q. Bonham?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. A son-in-law of the Speaker,1 is he, sir ?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right

1Speaker of the House of Representatives Sam Rayburn.

Q. Nephew. [Laughter] Q. Nephew, isn't it?

THE PRESIDENT. He's a nephew--I guess.

Q. I had forgotten that. I would like to withdraw that. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. All right--you take that out--he's a nephew. A son of the Speaker's sister.2

2 Mrs. Samuel E. (Meddle Bell Rayburn) Bartley.

[2.] Q. I would like to ask a question, sir, if you have no other announcements. Have you made any progress, sir, in your search for an Ambassador to the Vatican?

THE PRESIDENT. NO.

Q. Do you still intend to appoint one?

THE PRESIDENT. I will let you know when I get ready.

[3.] I understand that we have some visiting newspapermen who have come to Washington to see how the Government works. And another thing that intrigues me is that they are paying their own way. [Laughter]

I want to congratulate you on showing that interest in how the Government works, and I hope you will have a chance to get information that you otherwise couldn't get.

It is a pleasure to me to have you here this morning, and I hope you enjoy the press conference as much as I do. I am ready for questions.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, we assume that you are still not ready to make any announcement about your political plans?

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct.

Q. Well, that being so--[laughter]--

THE PRESIDENT. Sixty-four dollars, please.

Q.--how do you account, Mr. President, for people continuing to come out of your office--the most recent one was Chairman Cooley3--and saying that you are going to announce within 2 or 3 weeks? He said that day before yesterday. He said it was a prediction, but apparently an educated one.

THE PRESIDENT. I can't be responsible for what people say when they go out of my office. This is a free country and they have the right to say whatever they choose. I never tell them what to say.

3 Representative Harold D. Cooley of North Carolina, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, do you object to officials of the executive branch appearing before congressional committees where they have air coverage--television and radio?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it is better if the committee transacts its business in the manner in which a committee should transact its business. But that is not my affair. That is a matter which the Congress itself has to pass on.

Q. Yes, sir. Did you discuss it with Speaker Rayburn before he made his decision?

THE PRESIDENT. NO, I did not. I heard him make the decision. He made it over the telephone in my office, but I didn't say anything to him about it.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, this is only indirectly connected with the question. Would you be happy if Adlai Stevenson--Governor Stevenson--were the nominee for the Democratic Party? I mean, do you think he would make a good President?

THE PRESIDENT. He is a very able person. He has made one of the best Governors Illinois ever had. That is one of the best recommendations a man can have for being President.

Q. If you had the chore of trying to guess what--who General MacArthur4 was for in this campaign, who would.--

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. I can't tell you what he is thinking about. He will tell you, I am sure, when the time comes along.

4General of the Army Douglas MacArthur.

[7.] Joe5 thinks maybe I ought to tell you a little something about the telephone call.

5 Joseph H. Short, Secretary to the President.

A gentleman called Speaker Rayburn and asked if they could use television at the un-American activities hearing in Detroit. And the Speaker's reply--I heard that reply--was that it was against the rules of the House and he would have to rule against it.

Q. Mr. President, where were you at the time of this"telephone conversation?

THE PRESIDENT. I was sitting at my desk, and Sam Rayburn was sitting right beside me.

Q. How did the man happen to call Speaker Rayburn when he was with you?

THE PRESIDENT. We had the Big four meeting, and it was an emergency call. We are always polite in the White House. [Laughter ]

Q. Sir, on that subject, I think you said that you think it was better that they testify the way they ought to--or that committee meetings be held the way they ought to. I, at least, got the implication there that you thought they should not be before television--

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't make any such implication. That is the business of the Congress itself to make that decision. I can't make it for them. I wouldn't try to influence them in making it. I conducted a lot of committee hearings down there, though, and we didn't make a sideshow of them.

Q. Mr. President, my original question stayed away from the House jurisdiction. I asked if you objected to your executive officials appearing before television and radio.

THE PRESIDENT. I never object to any of my officials appearing before congressional committees.

Q. Including radio and television?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't want to include anything. I just answered the question.

Q. Mr. President, our ex-colleague, Senator Moody, 6 in Detroit--I believe it was the day this all broke--stated that he had called Speaker Rayburn and got him at the White House. Is that--

THE PRESIDENT. He was on the other end of the telephone. [Laughter] May,7 aren't you satisfied ?

6 Senator Blair Moody of Michigan, former Washington correspondent for the Detroit News.

7 Mrs. May Craig of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald.

Mrs. Craig: No sir, because my original question--which I thought about very carefully, to close all loopholes--stayed away from the

THE PRESIDENT. I appreciate that. That's perfectly correct. Mrs. Craig: ..... the congressional jurisdiction.

THE PRESIDENT. That's perfectly correct. Mrs. Craig: I thought it stayed absolutely in your own attitude toward your officials appearing before congressional committees with air coverage--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think you ought to put that "with air coverage" in there. Whenever they have to appear or are invited to appear before congressional committees, they appear. And it is up to the Congress itself to decide on how the mechanism of the committee shall be run.

Q. And you would make no objection--

THE PRESIDENT. I never have.

Q.--on what they wish to do?

THE PRESIDENT. I never have.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, Senator O'Mahoney saw you this morning about the prospects of statehood for Alaska and Hawaii. Could you tell us anything about the results of that talk ?

THE PRESIDENT. The fight is still on. When I start anything I never give up until the last "dog" dies. [Laughter]

Q. Are you going to take some moves today that may help statehood for them?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope so. I hope they will.

Q. Can you tell us what you will do?

THE PRESIDENT. No.

Q. Mr. President, Senator O'Mahoney told us that he was enlisted in that fight for the duration for both Hawaii and Alaska--

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q.--and that he would oppose any attempt to sidetrack the Hawaiian bill with another bill until they dispose of that.

THE PRESIDENT. That is a matter for the Congress to decide on itself. What Senator O'Mahoney and I were discussing was the probability of a reconsideration of their vote by which the Alaska bill was referred back to the committee, and he is working on that now. But that is a matter for senatorial strategy. It is not my business.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, the situation in Indochina seems to be deteriorating. I wonder if the free world would say to the Communists that any action in Indochina would bring about the same thing that happened in Korea?

THE PRESIDENT. I'm sorry, I can't answer that question.

Q. May I ask a couple of political questions ?

THE PRESIDENT. Why sure.

[10.] Q. This is a Pennsylvania question, which is only indirectly a question connected with the other. Richardson Dilworth, who has just been elected district attorney on the Democratic ticket in Philadelphia, has said that Pennsylvania will be lost for the Democrats if you are the nominee, sir. Is that an echo of 1948?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question, for I don't know.

[11.] Q. Referring back to television, Mr. President, were you in agreement with Senator Cain of Washington in his rather strong criticism of the Kefauver committee8 telecasts ?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't join anybody in criticism of anybody else. When I get ready to criticise anybody I do it directly, not by implication. [Laughter]

8Senator Estes Kefauver, former Chairman of the Senate Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce, had allowed the use of radio, television, and newsreel cameras during Committee hearings.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, have you done anything lately about getting Bill Oatis9 out of jail?

THE PRESIDENT. Everything is being done that can possibly be done to get Bill out of jail, and I hope they will finally get him out.

9 William N. Oatis, American Associated Press correspondent, who was arrested April 23, 1951, in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and was given a 10-year prison sentence July 4 on a charge of espionage. On May 15, 1953, he was pardoned by the Czechoslovakian Government.

Q. Can you tell us some of the things-THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't. Wouldn't do any good to tell you, because we would tell the world then. And what we are trying to do wouldn't work.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, some of your friends have been reported in New Hampshire as being concerned about your prospects in the New Hampshire primary.10 Do you share that concern, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't been consulted about it in the first place.

[Pause] Well, well, well!

10 See also Item 28.

Q. Well, one more. [Laughter]

[14.] Q. Mr. President, do you foreclose the possibility that you might announce your plans in Key West ?

THE PRESIDENT. I do. That is foreclosed.

Q. That is foreclosed.

THE PRESIDENT. You will get the same answers down there that you are getting here. [Laughter] I hope we will be able to leave for Key West next Friday, if everything holds together--a week from tomorrow.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, could you say again what job Robert T. Hartley gets?

THE PRESIDENT. He is a member of the Federal Communications Commission--will be appointed.

Q. He takes the place of Paul Walker, is that it?

THE PRESIDENT. Walker will be made Chairman. The vacancy was caused by the resignation of Wayne Coy.

Q. Well then, Bartley takes the other vacancy, is that it?

THE PRESIDENT. He takes the vacancy on the Securities and Exchange Commission, and then I appointed--

Mr. Short: FCC, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. I mean Federal Communications Commission. There are so many of them, we get mixed up sometimes.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, just to clarify my thinking--[ Laughter ]--

THE PRESIDENT. All right.

Q.--you are not going to make a decision or announcement until after you get back from Key West?

THE PRESIDENT. That's the program. That's right.

Q. Might that be about a day after, Mr. President ?

THE PRESIDENT. I won't tell you. When I get ready to make it, I will let you all know so you can be there.

Q. Mr. President, don't you realize you are spoiling the possibility of a lot of correspondents going down to Key West? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I didn't spoil it. I didn't spoil it. 1 didn't ask the question. I don't know what we will do for amusement when that situation is developed to the point where you have the answer. I don't think you will have a good time at the press conference. I am sure I won't have as good a time. [Laughter]

[17.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment, sir, on the Lisbon conference and what was achieved ?

THE PRESIDENT. A very excellent conference, and a very successful one. Dean Acheson will explain it fully tomorrow night over radio and television.11

11 The text of the address of Secretary of State Dean Acheson is printed in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 26, p. 363).

See also Item 48.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, there is a story from the far East that President Truman is still contemplating making a trip to Korea. Any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I can't do that, I'm sorry.

Q. Can't comment, sir, or you can't make the trip?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't make the trip.

Merriman Smith, United Press Associations: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. It's all right, Smitty.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and ninety-sixth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, February 28, 1952.

Harry S. Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231463

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