Despite former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw’s account of right-wingers who were delighted John F. Kennedy was killed, he also suggested on MSNBC Friday that “Dallas didn’t have anything to do with the assassination,” and assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was “a far-left guy, not a far right guy.”
It came up on “Now with Alex Wagner,” and she was pushing a New York Times article by Sam Tanenhaus, where JFK was somehow a god, and “With this horrific, irrational deed, a curse was laid upon the land, and the people fell from grace.” (Video, transcript below)
ALEX WAGNER: Sam Tanenhaus, writing today in the New York Times, talks about the sort of electric undercurrent of discontent that was still – that was palpable in and around the time that Kennedy was shot. And that Dallas was a very dangerous place to be at that moment.
TOM BROKAW: And Dallas didn't have anything to do with the assassination, which is the interesting thing.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Yes.
BROKAW: It was this lone misfit who'd gone to Russia. He was a far-left guy, not a far-right guy. So it's hard to untangle what was going on. Chris was quite right, the early part of the '60s had nothing to do with what we think of the '60s. My own very strong impression is that, yes, the assassination did change us, there's no question about that. Did you have a mass of people saying, "I've had it with institutions and with the government as it stands"? I don't think that was the case.
Tanenhaus didn’t explicitly blame the right wing for killing Kennedy (although the Times fanned that Dallas-bashing flame with James McAuley bashing his own grandmother as a hater.) Tanenhaus some rebellion emerging on the left and right, from the Goldwater movement to the SDS:
Had Kennedy lived, he might have found himself contending with these fresh rebellions. Instead his memory was sacralized, and his death seen as a kind of freeze-frame, the moment at which America pivoted away from its better self.