WaPo Editor: Ted Kennedy is 'One of the Greatest Legislators' Ever

While appearing on Tuesday's edition of "MSNBC News Live" to comment on Caroline Kennedy's bid to be appointed the United States Senate, Washington Post news editor Vincent Bzdek hyperbolically lauded Caroline's uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy, as "one of the greatest legislators in the history of the country."

Anchor Norah O'Donnell also read from a New York Daily News column harshly attacking Caroline Kennedy as unqualified. She then defended, "Is that really fair? Is that a little bit tough?" In a follow-up question to Bzdek, O'Donnell gushed at the legacy of the Kennedy family: "The Kennedys have long been known for their eloquence. Of course, Ted Kennedy, the lion of the U.S. Senate, a great speechmaker, in terms of delivering on policy." Wondering if Caroline could live up to such standards, she queried the Washington Post editor, "Is she being compared unfairly to her uncle?"

Bzdek, who has written "The Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby and Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled," a yet-to-be released book on the Kennedys, saw parallels between uncle and niece. He explained, "...When Ted Kennedy first ran for the Senate in '62 when his brother was president, the same criticisms were made of him, that he was just running on his name and that he didn't have much to offer."

Based on the product description on Amazon.com, Bzdek's book sounds like a love letter to the liberal clan. It will apparently answer these questions: "How did the brothers [John, Bobby and Ted Kennedy] pass the torch to each other? What have the three brothers left us collectively? And who carries the torch forward now?" The newspaper editor has also written a biography of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. According to a review in the Washington Post, that book is "a rather admiring picture of its subject."

A transcript of the December 30 segment, which aired at 10:32am on MSNBC, follows:

NORAH O'DONNELL: Caroline Kennedy, that's who we're talking about, has endured a lot of criticism about how she is handling her bid for the Senate seat. And the shots keep on coming today, like this one from the New York Daily News. Michael Goodwin writes, quote, "A strange thing is happening on the way to the coronation. The wheels of the bandwagon are coming off. Fantasy is giving way to inescapable truth. That truth is that Kennedy is not ready for the job and doesn't deserve it. Somebody who loves her should tell her. Her quest is becoming a cringe-inducing experience, as painful to watch as it must be to endure." Joining us from the Washington Post news room is news editor and author Vincent Bzdek. His book, "The Kennedy Legacy," is going to come out in April. All right, Vincent, thanks so much for joining us.

VINCENT BZDEK (Washington Post news editor): Thanks for having me, Norah.

O'DONNELL: Cringe-inducing? Is that really fair? Is that a little bit tough?

BZDEK: They have been tough. You know, I think we have to remember that this is mostly a media campaign. This is really an appointment not a campaign. And I'm not sure what I know of Governor Paterson that he is paying that much attention to what is said in the media. What I think is the more- the bigger question is what he thinks of what Obama has to say about it. Because Obama has been a big supporter of Caroline and Caroline, of course, was head of his vice presidential search committee. So, I think that's the real question is what kind of influence does Obama have on Governor Paterson?

O'DONNELL: Let's listen to this recent interview that Caroline Kennedy gave where some are making light of or criticizing her for using the phrase "you know" a lot.

CAROLINE KENNEDY: You know, in our family, my family in particular I think, you know- You know, we have to work twice as hard. Because, you know, people have this perception that, you know- But I think that's a question of what do you do with that opportunity?

O'DONNELL: The Kennedys have long been known for their eloquence. Of course, Ted Kennedy, the lion of the U.S. Senate, a great speechmaker, in terms of delivering on policy. Is she being compared unfairly to her uncle?

BZDEK: You know, it's interesting, because when Ted Kennedy first ran for the Senate in '62 when his brother was president, the same criticisms were made of him, that he was just running on his name and that he didn't have much to offer. And he really didn't. He didn't have much legislative experience. So, there's a lot of parallels and he's proven to be, you know, one of the greatest legislators in the history of the country. So, I think it's really early, too early, judge, especially judge her by a few verbal ticks. She's been quite eloquent in the past and was quite eloquent at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this summer.

O'DONNELL: No doubt. And we look forward to your new book coming out in April on the Kennedys. Vincent Bzdek, thank you so much.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org