ABC Continues to Revel in Ted Kennedy's Push for Health Care: 'The Lion's Legacy'

Good Morning America continued its post-health care victory lap for the late Ted Kennedy on Tuesday. An ABC graphic enthused, "The Lion's Legacy: Kennedy's Widow on Health Care." Reporter Jon Karl talked to Vicki Kennedy and prompted her to lament Republican obstruction: "How disappointed would [Kennedy] have been to see that this was a vote without a single Republican in either chamber voting yes?"

As video of tea party protesters appeared onscreen, Karl wondered, "Did he anticipate in any way, the level of vitriol?" (It seemed lost on Karl that Ted Kennedy often attacked people with his own invective, such as in 1987 when he slimed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork's America as one of back alley abortions and segregation.)

Tuesday was day two of ABC's trumpeting of Kennedy. On Monday, GMA co-host George Stephanopoulos demanded of Senator John McCain, "...You were good friends with Senator Ted Kennedy. What would you say to him this morning?" On the same show, a graphic during a Roberts segment gushed, "Rep. Kennedy on Dad's Final Wish: Father's Life Work Was Reform."

A transcript of the March 23 segment, which aired at 8:33am EDT, follows:

ROBIN ROBERTS: But, although Senator Ted Kennedy, as you know, did not live to cast his vote on the health care bill, his memory was evoked by many of the bill's supporters. His widow, Vicki Kennedy, visited his grave at Arlington Cemetery as the final debate was taking place. And she spoke with our Jon Karl, who joins us right now from Washington. That had to be- That had to be a moment for her.

ABC GRAPHIC: The Lion's Legacy: Kennedy's Widow on Health Care

JON KARL: Oh, really. We have heard very little publicly from Vicki Kennedy since Ted Kennedy's death. But, despite her low profile, she has been following the ins and outs of this debate. And actually working hard behind the scenes to get the bill passed.

NANCY PELOSI: The bill is passed.

KARL: What was your reaction when you finally saw the gavel come down?

VICKI KENNEDY: It was one of great joy. And it's one that I knew my husband would have loved to have seen.

KARL: How would he have reacted to the vote?

VICKI KENNEDY: I think on this one, he would take a little bit more time and celebrate it. I have to say. Because, this one was a long time coming.

KARL: How disappointed would he have been to see that this was a vote without a single Republican in either chamber voting yes?

VICKI KENNEDY: I think he would be happy that it passed the legislation. I think he certainly would have tried, as did the Senate and as did the House. President Obama certainly made the outreach. He certainly would have tried to make this bipartisan.

KARL: Senator Kennedy wrote this letter to President Obama in May.

BARACK OBAMA [Reading Ted Kennedy's letter in a speech to Congress]: "What we face," he wrote, "is above all, a moral issue. At stake are not just the details of policy. But fundamental principles of social justice."

KARL: Why did he decide to write this letter?

VICKI KENNEDY: He knew that he was very sick. And in the event he were not here, he wanted to thank President Obama for his leadership. And to basically, just go on the record and say he thought it was the moral issue of our time. Everything he did was about the future.

TED KENNEDY [Giving speech to DNC]: Thank you. Thank you.

VICKI KENNEDY: Think about his convention speech in Denver.

TED KENNEDY: Every American, north, south, east, west, young, old, will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.

VICKI KENNEDY: Wasn't about him. It was about going forward. It was about passing the torch to a new generation.

KARL: When he writes, if you allow me to, "When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in the closing days that while I would not be there when it happens, you will be the President who, at long last, signs into law, the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society."

VICKI KENNEDY: That's what he believed. And he was right.

KARL [Onscreen video of tea party protesters]: Did he anticipate in any way, the level of vitriol?

VICKI KENNEDY: Oh, absolutely. He absolutely knew it was going to be difficult. He talked to me about the fact that the closer we got, people would start to get more at odds because change is a scary thing.

KARL: When Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, did you think even for a moment that the cause was lost?

VICKI KENNEDY: No, I didn't.

KARL: Really?

VICKI KENNEDY: I didn't. I believed in this President. I believed in the Speaker. I believed in the members of Congress. And I believe in the American people.

KARL: A lot of people have been saying that, you know, wanting you to run for that seat. Did you have a moment when that happened, where you second-guessed your own decision?

VICKI KENNEDY: No. You know, I've been in a very emotional time. You know? Very emotional time.

KARL: Sure. [Interview ends.] Vicki also told me that in the days before the final vote, she was talking to wavering members, in person and on the phone, wavering Democrats. Telling them to vote yes. Including a face-to-face meeting with a Massachusetts Democrat named Stephen Lynch, who had come out saying he would vote against the bill. And Lynch did up end voting no. He was the only Democrat from Massachusetts to vote no on that bill. Robin, we can only imagine what that conversation must have been like.

ROBERTS: Yeah. We can only imagine. It was great to see Vicki. And you can tell, it's been an emotional time for her.

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