ABC's Kennedy Love Continues: Network Fawns Over Family Poetry

Good Morning America's historical coverage is mostly non-existent. Yet, there's one thing the ABC program finds time for every year: Kennedy worship. On Tuesday's GMA, the same program that ignored Harry Reid linking Marine deaths to sequester cuts featured the latest on Kennedy family poetry.

Reporter David Muir gushed, "The indelible images of Caroline Kennedy's childhood: The little girl in the White House hiding under her father's desk, sitting beside her mother in bed. And if you look closely, there is often something else, books." The purpose of the segment was to promote Poems to Learn By Heart, a  compilation collected by JFK's daughter. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Muir took this opportunity to trot out the pictures Americans have seen over and over in the 50 years since John Kennedy left the White House. This type of segment airs at least once a year on GMA. 

On September 26, 2012, it was to hype the release of new Kennedy tapes. On February 15, 2010, GMA celebrated one of JFK's many adulterous affairs as a "torrid" "love story."

On July 16, 2009, the show's hosts mourned John F. Kennedy Jr. As the "critical link to our fairy tale past." (For more on GMA's Kennedy love, go here.)

Interestingly, it was the Kennedy daughter, Caroline, who pushed the History Channel to drop a fictional miniseries that portrayed her family in a not-totally positive light:

A&E Television Networks (AETN) is owned by a consortium including the Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal and Hearst. According to THR, Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy, personally lobbied Disney/ABC Television Group exec Anne Sweeney, who serves on the AETN board.

Kennedy also has a book deal with Disney's Hyperion publishing outlet - she is set to edit, write an introduction for and promote a collection of previously unreleased interviews with her mother. She's also expected to release some of the 6.5 hours of previously unheard audiotapes of the former first lady that make up the basis of the book. But, the report states, that level of cooperation might have been unlikely if History had gone ahead with the project.

That Caroline Kennedy book, of course, ended up being promoted on a program airing on History Channel's parent company, Good Morning America.

Is it possible that, despite what the journalists at ABC think, Americans aren't interested in constantly reliving every aspect of the Kennedys?

A transcript of the March 26 segment follows:


8:37

ABC GRAPHIC: "Poems to Learn By Heart" Caroline Kennedy's Favorite Verses

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to hear from the real Caroline Kennedy. Her mother, Jackie, gave her a lot love of poetry and in her latest collection, Poems to Learn By Heart, Caroline hopes to pass that love on. She's also been doing it in New York's public schools, volunteering at a program called Dream Yard and ABC's David Muir spoke to her there.

DAVID MUIR: The indelible images of Caroline Kennedy's childhood: The little girl in the White House hiding under her father's desk, sitting beside her mother in bed. And if you look closely, there is often something else, books. Many of them filled with poetry.

CAROLINE KENNEDY: My mother taught me a short poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay when I was three and I do remember reciting it for my father.

MUIR: And what would your dad say to you after?

KENNEDY: Everyone would clap, of course.

MUIR: And it wasn't until years later that she discovered a poem selected by her brother, a young John. It had a twist.

KENNEDY: "Because careless Willy with his thirst for gore nailed his sister to the door. Mother said with humor quaint, careful, Willy don't spoil the paint." So then I saw it, I just couldn't even believe it. I was so, you know, I just picture us at that age. It really made me laugh.

MUIR: That laughter, those memories, kept alive by the poems and looking to do the same now for other young people in her new book, Poems to Learn By Heart.

KENNEDY [Talking to children]: Hi, how are you?

MUIR: Quietly, Caroline has been volunteering at New York's public schools at an innovative program called Dream Yard in the Bronx, using the arts to give students there a voice.

UNIDENTIFIED TEEN GIRL: It's really changed, like, who I am as a person.

MORAN: You wouldn't have been standing in front of this camera.

UNIDENTIFIED TEEN GIRL: Not at all.

MORAN: So when you hear that, that it's given them a voice--

KENNEDY: Yes?

MUIR: What do you think?

KENNEDY: I hope that other people their age will look at them and see how words and ideas have the power to change your life.

MUIR: For Good Morning America, ABC News, New York.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Poems to Learn by Heart goes on sale today.

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