Amid all the coverage of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, this op-ed by Tom Brokaw last week in the Wall Street Journal might not have gotten the attention it deserves. Looking back at Kennedy’s tenure, the former NBC News anchor wondered how the echo chamber of cable news and tweets, combined with today’s take-no-prisoners political climate, might have affected the most tumultuous crises Kennedy faced. Here’s an excerpt:

Watching the recent government shutdown debate, I tried to imagine how Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs disaster — the invasion of Cuba with a small surrogate army in April 1961 — might have played out in today’s Benghazi climate. How long would it be before a national chorus of critics arose, demanding his impeachment? Can you imagine the wall-to-wall, channel-to-channel, blog-to-blog tsunami during the 12 days of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962? That’s when Kennedy had arguably his finest hour as commander in chief, cooling off potentially catastrophic war fever with imaginative diplomacy.

Brokaw’s whole piece is worth reading.


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Steven Brill , the author of Class Warfare: Inside the Fight To Fix America’s Schools, has written for magazines including New York, The New Yorker, Time, Harper's, and The New York Times Magazine. He founded and ran Court TV, The American Lawyer magazine, ten regional legal newspapers, and Brill's Content magazine. He also teaches journalism at Yale, where he founded the Yale Journalism Initiative.