Ted Kennedy died this week at the age of 77. For decades, the youngest Kennedy brother lived his public and private lives under the media glare. We remember his many incarnations.
Artist: Build Buildings
BOB GARFIELD: We originally aired Brooke’s conversation with Ted Conover in October, 2008. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER] Senator Edward Kennedy’s hometown paper, The Boston Globe, commenced an editorial page obituary with a startling line: “Ted Kennedy was not a great man.” We'll leave that conclusion for others to debate. What the words reflected, though, and synthesized, was a 47-year public career in which the youngest Kennedy brother lived out an ongoing metamorphosis, from ingénue of dubious gravitas -
[MUSIC UP AND UNDER]
NEWS ANNOUNCER: Another Kennedy has thrown his hat into the national political arena. Edward M., or Ted, officially announces his campaign -
BOB GARFIELD: To accidental eloquent paterfamilias -
TED KENNEDY: On behalf of Mrs. Kennedy, her children, and the parents and sisters of Robert Kennedy, I want to express what we feel to those who mourn with us today.
BOB GARFIELD: To cowardly, negligent embarrassment.
TED KENNEDY: There is no truth, no truth whatever, to the widely circulated suspicions of immoral conduct that have been leveled at my behavior, and hers, regarding that evening.
BOB GARFIELD: To presidential candidate -
TED KENNEDY: Today I formally announce that I'm a candidate for President of the United States.
BOB GARFIELD: To drunken caricature.
[CLIP FROM THE SIMPSONS]
[MUSIC UP AND UNDER]
QUIMBY: Remember, if anyone asks, you’re my niece from out of town.
LADY: I am your niece, Uncle Joe.
QUIMBY: Good lord, I’m an abomination!
BOB GARFIELD: To liberal standard-bearer -
TED KENNEDY: Mr. Bork should also be rejected by the Senate because he stands for an extremist view of the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court -
BOB GARFIELD: To lion of the Senate -
TED KENNEDY: I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate!
[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]
BOB GARFIELD: All played out in the media for a public endlessly intrigued by the epic exploits, tragic fates and tragic flaws of America’s most enduring political dynasty. Now the tragic, comic, appalling, inspiring, above all, epic odyssey has come to an end, with all the media attention befitting the last male Kennedy of his generation. As to the question of greatness, it is a subject that the senator himself considered in 1968, in eulogizing his martyred brother, Robert. Perhaps this is the passage the editors of The Globe had in mind:
TED KENNEDY: My brother need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
BOB GARFIELD: Edward M. Kennedy died this week at the age of 77.
[MUSIC/MUSIC UP AND UNDER] That's it for this week's show. On the Media was produced by Jamie York, Mike Vuolo, Mark Phillips and Nazanin Rafsanjani, with more help from Kasia Gladki and Sarah Fidelibus. Sarah, thanks so much for your time here. Good luck teaching this semester. The show was edited this week by – give or take – me. We had technical direction from Jennifer Munson and more engineering help from Zach Marsh. Our webmaster is Amy Pearl.
Katya Rogers is our senior producer and John Keefe our executive producer. Bassist/composer Ben Allison wrote our theme. This is On the Media from WNYC. Brooke Gladstone [LAUGHS] will be back next week, [LAUGHS/SIGHS] thank God. I'm Bob Garfield.