The Globe, the Times, and RFK’s papers
Library of Congress photo via Wikimedia Commons.
There's been a pretty interesting development in the battle over Robert Kennedy's papers. The New York Times reports
that members of Kennedy's family are unhappy with the John F. Kennedy
Library in Boston, and may move the papers to George Washington
The story also says the family decided on March 1 to release 63 boxes
of papers, some of them "dealing with Cuba, Vietnam and civil rights,
[that] are classified as secret or top secret."
These would appear to be the "54 crates of records" that the Boston Globe revealed
last January were being withheld from all but a few favored historians.
At that time, Robert Kennedy's son Max placed his foot firmly in his
mouth, telling the Globe's Bryan Bender that he's all for openness
except in those cases when he's not.
"I do believe that historians and journalists must do their homework,
and observe the correct procedures for seeking permission to consult
the papers, and explain their projects," Max Kennedy was quoted as
saying. Max's boffo performance led me to bestow a Boston Phoenix Muzzle Award upon him recently.
In the Times story, there is no mention of Max. Instead, another of
Robert Kennedy's sons, former congressman Joe Kennedy, emerges as the
family spokesman, and he comes off as considerably more diplomatic than
his younger brother.
A search of the Globe and Times archives shows that the family's
March 1 decision to release the papers was not reported prior to today's
Times story. That suggests a deliberate strategy of working hand in
hand with Adam Clymer, the retired Times reporter who gets the lead
byline today. Clymer, you may recall, is the author of "Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography," a respected though admiring treatment of the late senator published in 2000.
All in all, fodder for a follow-up by Bender.
This post was originally published at Dan Kennedy's Media Nation blog.