(Disclaimer: I am a shameless fan of U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg.)
The fast approaching 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has launched a publication frenzy of special edition magazines to commemorate the event. Such venerable newsstand stars as TV Guide, Life, Time, People, Smithsonian, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and USA Today have all generated special issues on the life and death of JFK.
National Enquirer, usually not regarded as a serious news source, even generated a slick special edition entitled Who Really Killed the Kennedys! which regurgitates the work of many authors who have written on the murders of John and Robert Kennedy. That publication gathers information on several conspiracy theories and is surprisingly readable.
I have been collecting these assassination retrospectives - something that one of my grandchildren can sell for a nice profit on the one-hundredth anniversary of President Kennedy's murder. Last week, while perusing the periodicals at Walgreen's, I spotted another Kennedy cover that was at least marginally related to the assassination of JFK. It turned out to be a hatchet piece on the lady once memorialized by singer Neil Diamond as "Sweet Caroline."
Three-quarters of the cover of the regular edition of National Enquirer dealt with Caroline Kennedy's liquidation of her mother's property. The cover featured a photo of JFK and Jackie in Dallas on the morning of the assassination, and a contemporary photo of Caroline in which she looked wrinkled, haggard, and possibly suffering from a skin disease. The headline roared, "Coldhearted Ambassador Caroline Kennedy Cashing In on JFK Assassination!"
One irony, of course, was that by having a Kennedy cover, the National Enquirer was also cashing in on the Kennedy assassination.
The story itself was a two-page spread in the exact center of the publication with a banner headline proclaiming "Greedy Caroline Cashes In!" The main sub-headline, positioned next to a close-up of Ambassador Kennedy that made her look as though she might be suffering from a case of poison ivy on her face, said "Kennedy daughter making millions from JFK and Jackie deaths." Within the meat of the article, meat sliced so thin as to almost be transparent, was a statement declaring that Caroline is "a greedy phony who is shamefully hawking her family's moments to the highest bidder!" A second sub-headline declared, "She's a shameless fake & huckster!" was placed next to a picture of her deceased brother, John F. Kennedy, Jr, giving the appearance that the quote was his - though in the article the attribution was to an anonymous "one source."
(The National Enquirer is big on exclamation marks. They seem to add to the integrity and strength of the story!!!)
The story itself expresses outrage that Caroline had the temerity to sell family memorabilia - a collection of items which belonged to her and included such things of historical unimportance as a sugar bowl and some cracked jars. The Enquirer was also miffed that she has published books which were essentially the work of other people - such as a collection of her mother's favorite poems. None of the books appear to be efforts by Ms. Kennedy to take credit for the collections or anthologies. There was some muffled outrage over her appointment as Ambassador to Japan. And the article was capped with a claim that Caroline's marriage to Ed Scholssberg is falling apart. (Why would that be anybody's business but theirs?)
One significant aspect of this piece was the Enquirer's penchant for not revealing sources. In fact, only one actual human was quoted anywhere in the entire article. Most of the "facts" in the piece were attributed to "insiders," "a Kennedy family insider," "a source," "one source," "another source," and "an outraged source" - with several of those "sources" being quoted multiple times. One quote, "But she's living a lie," wasn't attributed to anyone, and another quote which told how much money she had cleared at a "yard sale auction" was linked to the New York Post - something short of an A-list source.
In all honesty I did not plop down four dollars for a copy of the National Enquirer expecting to encounter much in the way of quality investigative journalism. It is a publication that needs to be read when the mood is right - such as during commercials on Saturday Night Live or while using Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity for background noise. When it comes to good journalism, the National Enquirer might as well be Fox.