The president’s health: How much does the public get to know?

For more than 100 years, the White House has gone out of its way to obfuscate or outright deceive the public about the president’s medical condition. In 1893, President Grover Cleveland had secret oral cancer surgery aboard his friend’s yacht. Throughout the 20th century, presidents Wilson, Roosevelt, and Kennedy all concealed the scope and extent of their illnesses.

Now the U.S. is undergoing the most serious presidential health crisis since Ronald Reagan was shot just months into his first term in 1981.



  • Tim Naftali - Clinical Associate Professor of History and Public Service, NYU and the former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library - @TimNaftali