“David Susskind Archive: Interview With Nikita Khrushchev”— Remembering Khrushchev


“David Susskind Archive: Interview With Nikita Khrushchev”

Remembering Khrushchev

Amos Lassen

“In October 1960, Eisenhower was President and the election that put John F. Kennedy into the White House was less than a month away. The Cold War was at its zenith. Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Premier was visiting the United Nations headquarters in New York City. No Soviet leader had ever been interviewed by an American, yet Khrushchev agreed to appear live on David Susskind’s ‘Open End’. There was an immediate negative reaction to the announcement, even causing then F.B.I. director Hoover to ask What do our files show on Susskind? The program aired live on Sunday, October 9 on New York television station WNTA. The two-hour conversation (through an interpreter) was very spirited and focused on two main topics: First, the virtues of Soviet styled communism versus American style capitalism, and second, would Khrushched give his assurance that he would never initiate a nuclear war. At one point after a commercial break, Khrushchev is informed that one of the commercials during the break was for Radio Free Europe. The commercial depicted a communist soldier smashing a radio set with an axe. Initially, this set Khrushchev off, but after a moment he said Well, alright, let them screen it. We are not afraid. This will only make us stronger… Let them do it. The show is followed by an extensive panel discussion that incuded DEAN EDWARD BARRETT OF COLUMBIA SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM HENRY SHAPIRO, JAMES WECHSLER, MAX LERNER OF NEW YORK POST, MARGUERITE HIGGINS & JOE NEWMAN OF NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE EUGENE LYONS OF READER’S DIGEST BLAIR FRASER OF MCLEAN’S MAGAZINE & CBC HARRY SCHWARTZ OF NEW YORK TIMES FRANK KANIF OF HEARST NEWSPAPERS And more….”



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