3. Editorial Note

In a November 26, 1963, memorandum to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Acting Director of the United States Information Agency (USIA) Donald M. Wilson asserted that world media attention was shifting focus from President John F. Kennedy’s assassination to “prospects for the future under your Administration.” Wilson noted that editorial commentary reflected a “generally positive image” of Johnson. However, he added that there were “anxieties about [Johnson’s] probable course of action.” Wilson stressed that many observers around the world approved of Johnson’s “long service in domestic and foreign affairs,” the “important functions” he executed at President Kennedy’s request, and his civil rights advocacy. (Johnson Library, White House Central Files, Subject Files, Federal Government Organizations, Box FG–314, FG 296, U.S. Information Agency 11/22/63–1/31/64)

In a subsequent December 3 Weekly Report memorandum to Johnson, Wilson described the key themes that the USIA emphasized about Johnson and his activities as the new President, which included: “the person, record and policies” of Johnson; the “uninterrupted continuation of the U.S. Government;” and Johnson’s “commitment to the stated foreign and domestic policies of the United States.” Wilson wrote that USIA had placed special importance on publicizing Johnson’s November 27 address before a Joint Session of Congress, in which the President stressed his commitment to Kennedy’s policies and to continuity. (Johnson Library, White House Central Files, Confidential File, Agency Reports, U.S. Information Agency, Box 135 [1 of 2], United States Information Agency)

A December 24 research report entitled “Worldwide Reaction to the First Month of the Johnson administration,” prepared in the [Page 8] Research and Reference Service, USIA, provided a detailed assessment of global public and media opinion, divided by geographical region. The summary highlights section of the report stated that “Worldwide confidence in the United States was demonstrated impressively during the first month of the Johnson administration, with growing confidence in the new President.” Noting the upheaval created by Kennedy’s assassination and questions surrounding U.S. global leadership, the report continued: “While recognizing that the President faces many foreign and domestic tests, there is growing confidence overseas that he will work for peace and civil rights.” While comparisons between Kennedy and Johnson were inevitable, the comparisons “did not seek to put the new President at a disadvantage,” and that “President Johnson is seen as a skilled, experienced political leader more pragmatic than President Kennedy.” (National Archives, RG 306, Office of Research, Research Reports, 1960–1999, Entry P–142, Box 18, R–223–63)