Nightly News   |  January 24, 2012

JFK hears contradictory advice on Vietnam

The John F. Kennedy Library released 45 hours of audio recordings. NBC’s Brian Williams reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> when you mention white house tape, richard nixon comes to mind, but he wasn't the first to have a secret taping system in the white house in the oval office . there was lyndon johnson before him, but the practice was started by president john f. kennedy . and today, his presidential library released 45 hours of audio recordings , a kind of narrative of his last weeks of his life.

>> reporter: at one point we hear a confident president on the tapes thinking about reelection and the best way to sell himself to younger voters.

>> kennedy was very well aware of the power of the image. he can be heard pushing the idea, quite revolutionary at the time of producing films for the '64 democratic convention in color for the first time.

>> jfk was one of several presidents who got conflicting advice on vietnam and in one conversation, you can hear his frustration with two separate aides just back from there giving him contradictory advice.

>> you both went to the same country?

>> john and caroline are on the tapes. we can hear the president introduce them to soviet foreign minister . .

>> come in a minute. say hello. do you want to say hello to john? you know the ambassador.

>> and then there's a scheduling meeting right before the president and the first lady leave on a trip to texas. they talk about a visiting dignitary and the busy monday he has planned when he gets home from dallas. it turned out to be the day of the president's funeral.

>> the voice of john f. kennedy , just days before dallas. you can hear more of these tapes. we've posted a link on our website tonight and on our facebook page