I doubt Tuesday night’s PBS show on the Kennedys said anything about their father’s alleged bootlegging, anti-Semitism, or pro-Nazi defeatism early in World War II. I tuned in too late to see the beginning of “The Kennedy’s: America’s Emerald Kings.” But what I saw lived up to the title. It was an idolizing, worshipping white-wash befitting PBS’s bias towards the Left.
Brothers John, Robert and Teddy, the most prominent Kennedy’s of recent generations, are presented as stars of virtue, wisdom and social justice. There was no mention of their collective philandering, JFK’s duplicitous withholding of air cover for the Bay of Pigs invaders dooming them; John and Robert’s involvement in CIA attempts to assassinate Castro which may have factored into JFK’s Dallas murder, or Teddy’s scandalous and cowardly leaving of Mary Jo Kopechne to die in his car after he’d crashed it into a waterway off Chappaquiddick Island.
And there are other skeletons in the closet left out of this documentary like suspicions that Robert may have had something to do with Marilyn Monroe’s murder. The famous Hollywood star had had affairs with both John and Robert.
I’m not saying the Kennedy’s are guilty as charged in each of these accusations. But there is evidence and to leave these controversies out of any program about this important clan gives a distorted picture to viewers, like the young, who have little to no knowledge of the Kennedy’s and therefore get a wrong view of history. And we all know what that means: Those ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.
The two hour “documentary” was made by Robert Kline, a Hollywood producer and writer, from Thomas Maier’s book of the same name. I don’t know either’s politics. But the presentation was the kind of propaganda that perpetuates myth. The film of the brothers is wonderful. They are handsome and vibrant, articulate and cool. They play touch football on the grounds of their mansions. John suffers the heartbreak of losing a child. But does that make him a good statesman or have much to anything to do with morality or judgement?
At points in the show where Conservatives or Republicans were mentioned or shown, they are consistently disparaged. When JFK ran against Nixon, the narrator says Kennedy, smiling fetchingly, was made for TV; Nixon, dark-jowled, scowling, wasn’t. They show a picture of Nixon anxiously trying to shake Kennedy’s hand who absently and disdainfully looks at the outstretched hand, finally taking it.
There is the proverbial section on civil rights. JFK and Robert are shown as champions of justice fighting a mean and vicious George Wallace, governor of Alabama stopping Blacks from entering Alabama schools. No mention that Wallace was a Democrat or that the main obstacle to civil rights for Blacks in Congress at that time was the block of Southern Democrats. President Kennedy was the first president to recognize civil rights as a moral issue, intones the narrator. Only a mumbling reference by Nicholas Katzenbach, JFK’s attorney general, that President Eisenhower, a Republican, had earlier integrated the armed forces and thereby had actually started the political march for civil rights.
JFK is lauded for his courage and total win in backing down Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile crises of 1962. No mention that in a secret deal JFK agreed to get rid of missiles the US had in Turkey – and that’s how he won the crises.
Because it is tax payer funded, PBS has a duty to show both sides of the spectrum. It did not live up to that duty in last night’s “The Kennedy’s: America’s Emerald Kings.” Given its continual bias to the Left, as evidenced most recently by its firing of Fox News commentator Juan Williams for giving both sides, I doubt that it ever will.