seal  Purdue News

October 29, 2003

Note to Journalists: Nov. 22 is the 40th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. Two Purdue University experts can talk about the former president's communication style and the conspiracy theories surrounding his assassination.

Expert remembers JFK: TV president and wordsmith

More than 40 years after President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address it remains one of the most cited and referenced speeches of all time, says a Purdue University presidential communications expert.

"His inaugural address is the best political speech I have ever heard," said Henry Scheele, professor of communication in the School of Liberal Arts. "Kennedy, along with his speechwriter Ted Sorensen, was a master at creating some of this country's most memorable and lasting lines. 'Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.' During his press conferences he was a master in providing sound bites and humorous quips when answering reporters' questions."

Scheele can talk about how modern presidents' speaking styles compare to Kennedy.

CONTACT: Scheele, (765) 494-4358,

Expert explains fascination for JFK conspiracy theories

Americans' tendency to be conspiracy theory driven will keep the speculation about John F. Kennedy's assassination alive for the next 40 years, says a Purdue University expert in the rhetoric of conspiracy.

"People will believe forever, no matter the credibility of the evidence," says Charles Stewart, a communication professor who studies and teaches how conspiracy theorists make their conspiracies believable. "We love conspiracies in this country. Even back to the colonists, Americans always have been suspicious about their government and have rallied around conspiracies."

On Nov. 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas while riding in a motorcade. A lone gunmen, Lee Harvey Oswald, was arrested but murdered before he could stand trial. The conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy's assassination have centered on government involvement and charged there were multiple assassins.

Stewart can talk about Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories, as well as how the assassination has been reported on for the last 40 years.

CONTACT: Stewart, (765) 494-3335,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page