Fox News has found a way to honor the upcoming 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination and still stay true to its core Republican-promoting, liberal-demonizing agenda: Spin Democrat JFK as a conservative and paint Lee Harvey Oswald as a “silly, squalid little communist.” As we all know, on Fox, “communist” is synonymous with “liberal.”
The spin started in an interview with JFK’s niece Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (Bobby Kennedy’s daughter) and JFK’s nephew, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of Ted Kennedy. Much of the interview was devoted to, as FoxNews.com called the segment, “Memories of ‘Uncle Jack.’”
But then, at about 7 minutes into the nearly 11-minute interview, Wallace began to try to co-opt Kennedy’s legacy for Fox News. As David, at Crooks and Liars’ Video Café pointed out, Wallace began by suggesting Democrat Kennedy was “quite conservative. From the Fox News transcript (edited for accuracy, punctuation and grammar):
WALLACE: Let’s talk about President Kennedy’s legacy half a century later. There is a growing body of thought that, in fact, that President Kennedy was quite conservative in some of his policies. He was a fierce Cold Warrior, he believed that tax cuts spurred the economy. Kathleen.
Both Kennedy family members politely pushed back. Kennedy Townsend noted that her uncle lowered the tax rate from 90 to 70 percent, which is far higher than the 22 percent rate now. She also said that JFK resisted generals who had wanted to go to war during the Bay of Pigs incident.
Patrick Kennedy pushed back more explicitly, especially with regard to Wallace’s subsequent suggestion that the “very troubled – I think some people would say ‘disastrous’ rollout of OBamaCare …raises doubts about big government solutions.”
PATRICK KENNEDY: Well, I think President Kennedy was so universally beloved because his message was such idealism. It was setting the goals. Obviously, in our own lives and the life of our government we’re not always that efficient in achieving the goals we set for ourselves. But the goal is right. The goal is to treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated from the vantage point that you don’t want to be discriminated against because of preexisting condition in health care.
In the very next segment, the panel discussion, Wallace continued promoting Kennedy’s supposed conservatism. Wallace’s first question to the panel went to George Will, Will didn’t just affirm the “JFK was conservative” meme, he took it a step further to suggest that Kennedy was killed BECAUSE he was too conservative.
WALLACE: And we’re back now with the panel. George, your thoughts about John F. Kennedy’s legacy and this growing notion that he, in fact, espoused a lot of conservative values.
WILL: Well, he was a conventional liberal before liberalism changed in the late 1960s. He was a Cold Warrior in the tradition of Harry Truman, and domestically, he hired as his Treasury Secretary C. Douglas Dillon, a Republican from Wall Street, he did indeed believe in supply side tax cuts, increased revenues from lower rates.
Chris, more people, substantially more people visit the fifth floor museum in the Texas Book Depository as it then was, than visit the Kennedy library. Which suggests to me that his hold on the nation’s imagination has more to do with the way he died than the way he lived. In fact, his record was rather thin.
And what his death did, was it gave rise to a narrative that America was somehow deeply flawed because of this. …Now, the narrative that immediately emerged, was a streak of violence, particularly on the right, killed Kennedy. We happen to know he was killed by a silly, squalid, little communist.
I’m surprised nobody found a way to blame President Obama or Hillary Clinton for it. But maybe that’s coming.