From Satellite Spies to Russian Trolls

October 22, 2020

On October 4, 1957, the successful launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik sparked fear of Soviet Union dominance in technology and space. In this episode, we’ll look at how John F. Kennedy used American fears of the Soviet Union and creeping Communism to his political advantage in the 1960 campaign. We’ll also look at how 60 years later, threats from Russia -- this time in cyber space -- linger over our elections today.

Featuring interviews from Ambassador Nicholas Burns, Fredrik Logevall, Timothy Naftali.

View the transcript for this episode.

From the JFK Library Archives

Question and answer session, Multnomah Hotel, Portland, Oregon, 7 September 1960. Copies of Senator Kennedy’s remarks at Multnomah Hotel during his 1960 presidential campaign. Topics include labor, legislation, congressional relations, the 1960 campaign, and international relations.

Missile gap, 30 January 1961, and undated. Material concerning the perceived disparity between the number and power of the weapons in the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

From the JFK Library

Kennedy Library Forum: 50th Anniversary: The Missile Gap Controversy, September 26, 2011

Kennedy Library Forum: US Foreign Policy in Asia, May 14, 2018

Other Material

Indonesia joins the UN (British Pathé)

The Paris Summit Falls Apart (UPI)

Fourth Presidential Debate, October 21, 1960 (PBS)


Photo of Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev courtesy of AP Images.

1960 debate excerpts courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

Morning Joe clip courtesy of MSNBC.

Drew Griffin and Joe Biden clips courtesy of CNN.

Donald Trump clip courtesy of AP.

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends clip courtesy of Universal Pictures

Beijing Welcomes You courtesy of Lam Jik and Xiao Ke

Hosts and producers: Matt Porter and Jamie Richardson

Co-producer: Rick King

Research assistants: Megan McKee and Cassie Marando

Special thanks to our Foundation colleagues, in particular Meaghan Hohl and Executive Director Rachel Flor.

We also thank all of our guests for lending their voices and expertise to this podcast.

None of this would be possible without the work by archivists and other staff at the JFK Library and Museum, who make much of the material discussed available to all online and to visiting researchers.

Logo: Brian Kang

Music: Blue.Session