Magazine article The Spectator

Wild Stories

Magazine article The Spectator

Wild Stories

Article excerpt

As a Kennedy-hater par excellence, I never thought I'd see the day when I would come to the defence of 'Camelot', but then I never figured on anyone as immoral and disgusting as Seymour Hersh, journalism's answer to the Bitch of Buchenwald.

Hersh and Kitty Kelley are one of a kind, the difference being that Kelley repeats vicious gossip about living people, whereas Hersh skewers the dead. My friend Hilton Kramer, a gentleman and scholar if there ever was one, thinks Hersh is as low as one can get. I think that trying to get Hersh to act as a decent human being is like trying to make a fish walk.

Alas, vindictiveness sells. Hersh is a foulmouthed, dirty-dealing, amoral opportunist, but newspapers are falling all over themselves to review his book. This is what I find scandalous. Newspapers have been so trivialised by gossip and blinded by greed that they will treat a massive belch of viciousness as The Dark Side of Camelot in the same way they would deal with, say, The Red and the Black. (Mind you, there's far more historical truth in the latter.)

Both Arthur Schlesinger and Theodore Sorensen, historians of the Kennedy presidency, have denounced the book, but in my opinion not as loudly as they should have. It is a collection of wild stories about bimbos running around the White House and gangsters controlling elections. A $6.5 billion contract was supposedly awarded to General Dynamics, the defence contractor, as a pay-off for political blackmail. The father of two men who broke into Judith Exner's flat (she was the moll of both JFK and Sam Giancana, a mobster) was head of security at General Dynamics.

The old canard about JFK being married to Durie Malcolm, a Palm Beach socialite, is repeated as fact. Malcolm has denied it throughout. Hersh quotes Charles Spalding, an old Kennedy friend, as evidence. The trouble is Chuck Spalding is a very old gentleman in whose mouth words can be put. Hersh, after all, was called `an extortionist' by Henry Kissinger because of his methods in getting a story. Personally, I don't believe a word.

What I do believe is that John F. Kennedy's murderer has finally revealed himself from that grassy knoll. It is a terrible thing to assassinate a president, but to murder his name for ever is even worse. …

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