Jackie Kennedy Tapes Create True-False Debate

The announcement of previously unreleased audio recordings featuring interviews with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis that are to set to go along with daughter Caroline‘s new book, “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy,” has created waves and sparked rumors that, if true, could turn the world of Jackie and John F. Kennedy lovers, conspiracy theorists and American historians upside down. “If true,” however, is the key phrase in the story and ensuing debate about the content of the tapes.

British tabloid Sunday Express initially reported that the tapes include everything from Jackie Kennedy’s theory that JFK successor and Vice President Lyndon Johnson was involved in the assassination to comments on affairs that JFK had been having with a 19-year-old White House intern to details of her own extramarital escapades. This report was followed by a statement from an ABC News spokesperson that “Tabloid reports about content of the tapes are total nonsense.” ABC is reportedly in possession of the tapes, and the network plans to air them in an exclusive segment in September.

Whatever the outcome, it is undeniable that Kennedy-related history is part of our national, and local, conversation. Albert and David Maysles’ 1975 documentary, Grey Gardens, which chronicled the living conditions of Jacqueline‘s aunt and first cousin in the Georgica Pond neighborhood of East Hampton became a cult classic, and in 2010 was distinguished by the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry for its “cultural” and “historical” significance. The film features “Big” and “Little” Edith Bouvier Beale (mother and daughter, respectively) living a surreal, unsanitary, and—with the exception of unusual attachments to their gardener and handyman—almost entirely reclusive lifestyle in the Hamptons. The 2009 HBO film Grey Gardens starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange won three Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes.

It may well turn out that the Jackie Kennedy tapes are not as shocking as originally reported.. Either way, whatever information is released is sure to be scrutinized down to its most trivial detail. For now, Kennedy-philes wait with baited breath.

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