The First Televised Presidential Address Aired October 5, 1947
President Harry Truman broadcast the speech from the White House. His subject was food conservation.
Europe was still reeling from World War II food shortages and faced a winter famine brought on by regional droughts, floods and unseasonable cold.
Backing measures proposed by the Citizens’ Food Committee, Truman called on America’s farmers and distillers to reduce grain consumption and asked the American public to do their part by observing “meatless Tuesdays,” going without poultry and eggs on Thursdays and eating less bread.
He felt that food aid was vital to the success of the Marshall Plan for post-war recovery in Europe.
Truman assured the public that the government and armed forces would be following the measures as well. The following day, the Citizens’ Food Committee published the White House menu for the first two restricted days:
Tuesday, Luncheon — Grapefruit, cheese soufflé, buttered peas, grilled tomatoes, chocolate pudding
Tuesday, Dinner — Clear chicken soup, broiled salmon steak, scalloped potatoes, string beans, sautéed eggplant, perfection salad, sliced peaches.
Thursday, Luncheon — corn soup, peppers stuffed with rice and mushrooms, lima beans, glazed carrots, baked apples
Thursday, Dinner — Melon balls, baked ham, baked sweet potatoes, asparagus, cauliflower, green salad, coffee mallow.
In 1947, there were only about 44,000 television sets in the United States. Nearly everyone got their news from the radio and newspapers.
But the little-seen broadcast changed the relationship between the government and the media all the same.
All of Truman’s addresses from then on were televised.
In 1949, he became the first presidential candidate to air a paid political advertisement.
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