tv American Dynasties The Kennedys CNN March 31, 2018 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
his back. >> i am pleased to accept the position of the attorney general. >> he says bobby grab your balls, let's go. i, john fitzgerald kennedy, do solemnly swear -- >> just over 100 years after his family first set foot in the country, john f. kennedy becomes president of the united states of america. the kennedys have achieved their dream. but in his first year in the white house, jfk learns winning power is one thing, wielding it is another. engulfed by violence and home and conflict around the world he turns to those he trusts the most -- family. >> the day of the inauguration
♪ >> the day of the inauguration was very, very cold. we were on the structure where all the press were, freezing cold. but it was a moment of great pride for our family. >> john fitzgerald kennedy is making history. he is about to be sworn in as america's youngest elected president. >> j.f.k. arrived when he became president. what a big satisfaction and relief for the family. >> we had this beautiful couple in jackie and jack that believed in trying new things, see new worlds and believing in the promise of america in a way that had not been said or thought of previously.
>> i john fitzgerald kennedy do solemnly swear that i will faithfully execute the office of president of the united states. >> for the family, having a kennedy in the white house is the inauguration of their ambition. >> jack is cheered on by his family. the president's brothers, his sisters, his mother rose, his wife jackie, and the patriarch himself, joseph p. kennedy. >> joe kennedy, who had been the behind-the-scenes strategist, architect, stood up and doffed his top hat to kennedy. >> waving to his father. >> it was a great moment that showed his paternal pride. >> let every nation know whether
it wishes us well or ill that we shall pay any price to assure the survival and the success of liberty and so, my fellow americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. [ cheers and applause ] >> there was just a sense that we could see a different world. the torch is passed to a new generation who is focused on what the future would bring. >> invitations to the inaugural celebrations are the hottest tickets in town. the stars come out in full force for jfk, tony curtis, janet leigh, gene kelly and frank sinatra. >> one of the things the kennedys did well was to bring hollywood to washington. >> they understood performance, they understood style, the
kennedy administration was the rat pack '60s. >> jackie appeared in the white gown she had designed to set her apart and it was a very tight sheathe in comparison to all these women in these big skirted gowns. >> here comes mrs. joseph p. kennedy, the mother of the president of the united states. >> on the road to the white house, rose kennedy has campaigned tirelessly to get her son elected. >> mrs. kennedy, this must be the proudest day of your life. >> oh, yes, wonderful. >> it's important to keep in mind that rose kennedy evidently had dynastic ambitions for the family. this is not just the story of joseph p. kennedy prominent pushing father. this is a joint effort on the part of both joseph p. kennedy and rose. >> have you had a chance really to sit back and realize.
>> no, no, that will take a little while, i think. >> jack's brother robert and wife ethel joined in the family's triumph. bobby had been jack's campaign manager and their father is adamant he's handed an important role in the new administration. >> joe kennedy let jack choose his cabinet with one exception. joe insisted that the next attorney general be robert kennedy. >> one cold december morning the president gets bobby kennedy up in his house in georgetown and tells him he is going to be appointing him as attorney general and he says, bobby, grab your balls, let's go. >> jfk stops at the door and says, hey, comb your hair.
>> bobby for most of his career a senate investigator is announced to the world as the new head of america's criminal justice system. >> in looking for an attorney general, he must lead the fight for law enforcement, who must administer our laws without favor and with matchless integrity, i have turned to a man in whom i have found these qualities. >> it was an act of outrageous, brazen nepotism. >> bobby, who had never tried a case in a court of law may have been in american history the least-prepared person to be attorney general. >> i am pleased to accept the position of the attorney generalship of the united states. i understand and realize the great problems and difficulties that will be facing all of us in that position. >> what was really kind of stunning at the time, barely a peep of objection.
the press went completely along with it. >> bobby didn't want to be attorney general. jack didn't want his brother to be attorney general. nobody thought it was a good idea. but joe insisted. joe knew that jack, newcomer to the presidency, needed someone to watch his back, someone to protect him. he knew that the responsibilities that were now going to be put on his son's shoulders were absolutely enormous. ♪ ♪
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the country is really swept away by jfk and jackie in a way that the country has never been swept away before by anybody in office. jack is at the forefront and he brings with him his beautiful wife and his amazing family. >> the kennedys have two young children, three-year-old caroline and baby john jr. >> no one could remember seeing children in the white house. there were suddenly playthings around, animals, toys strewn the floor.
it's a beautiful and welcoming image. >> if it's not presumptuous, mrs. kennedy, what about your role as a mother and a wife. >> i think it doesn't matter what else you do if you don't do that part well. if you fail your husband and your children. that really is the role which means the most to me. >> she was gutsy. i mean, here's -- she's really young, what was she 31 or something? so young. >> it has been more difficult, though, honestly, to fulfill this role? >> since we've been in the white house? >> yes, ma'am. >> no, my husband loves a challenge and i do, too. he set me a good example. let's hope it works out. >> the president's sister eunice shriver approaches his door with some trepidation. >> the kennedy sisters find
themselves in a more formal relationship with brother jack. >> the president autographs pictures for his sisters and their children. >> stevie? for you? >> but in signing autographs for the family, the president finds it hard not to be presidential. >> it's pretty hard to turn these. i find myself writing very best wishes. >> that is really boring. >> listen, have a good trip. >> joe kennedy, the brains and money behind his son's campaign retreats to the family homes in florida and hyannisport. joe kennedy knew he had to be very careful not to rain on his son's parade. he decided very early on that he was not going to visit the white house, he was not going to appear in public with his son. he didn't want anybody to think that jack kennedy was not his
own man. >> jack knows that traditionally american presidents are judged by their first 100 days. >> jack kennedy saw himself as an historic figure. he saw himself as somebody who could lead the country into a new golden age. now, it was a golden age tinged by shadow because 1961 was the height or the depth of the cold war. >> america and the soviet union are locked in a titanic ideological struggle. the u.s. is terrified of the spread of communism as it reaches the nation's backyard cuba is under the control of the fiery revolutionary fidel castro. >> he was not only a communist and a marxist but he was going to align himself with the soviet
union on an island 90 miles from the coast of florida. >> the moment jack becomes president, the cia present him with their plan to bring down the cuban leader. >> the bay of pigs was a plot that was hatched during the eisenhower administration. the idea was to train some cuban exiles to invade cuba on the assumption that on their arrival there would be a popular uprising and fidel castro would be thrown out. >> kennedy was suspicious about the viability of this plan and the wisdom of this plan up until essentially the last moment. >> reluctantly jack gives the go-ahead for the operation with one crucial condition. >> he did not want it to be clear that the united states was supporting this. he wanted it to be a quiet invasion. >> it turns out to be an unmitigated disaster. early morning hours, kennedy is
pulled away from a soiree at the white house. >> the president in white tie at 2:00 in the morning is meeting with his generals. the cuban exiles were being attacked by tanks. they were going to be driven into the sea. >> back in washington, the u.s. navy and deputy cia director are basically saying let us invade cuba. the cia had the notion president kennedy would send in the marines, he would come to the rescue. but that's not what happens. kennedy says this was supposed to be a covert operation in which the u.s. hand did not show. we are not going to invade cuba and attack cuba ourselves to salvage this operation. >> over 100 cuban exiles are killed and more than a thousand are taken prisoner.
>> in the end, the united states is revealed to be completely behind this invasion. >> as castro boasts to the world about his victory, america is humiliated. >> kennedy was so overwrought that he began to cry. jackie had never seen her husband as distraught, as despondent, as depressed. he believed his presidency was over before it had even started because of this tragedy. at one point in the depths of his despair he and bobby were together and bobby said "let's call dad, maybe he can cheer us up." >> joe kennedy may not be in washington, but he remains a trusted adviser to his son. >> if you look at the records of kennedy's calls during the days of the bay of pigs fiasco you will see how many times he called his father.
joe kennedy never, ever, ever trusted the intelligence services and he had warned jack about the cia, so the bay of pigs shook kennedy's confidence in his advisers. it even shook his confidence in himself. but what it also did was it strengthened his conviction that he had to rely more on those he trusted most. members of his family.
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i believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal before this decade is out of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. >> it set our sights up high. and when you look up, you think of something more than yourself and it's just terrific. >> in may, 1961, jfk announces to the world an extraordinarily
ambitious project. >> now it is time to take longer strides, time for a great new american enterprise. >> the soviets have already put the first man into space and after the bay of pigs fiasco jack cannot afford for america to be left behind. >> the united states was engaged in a space race with the russians. we weren't trying to just beat the soviets militarily, we were trying to beat them to new frontiers. >> this is the kennedy approach to life, which is win at all the costs. it's not good enough to come in second. and that was what they were told by their father from the time th were lile children. >> as jack projects the superiority of his country around the world, back at home a desperate struggle for civil rights is tearing america apart. >> if you're african-american in the united states in the '60s, you're not living in a
democracy. you're living under an apartheid dictatorship based on race. >> we're still seeing intense violence, lynching is still the reality. >> if you were black you couldn't vote. you couldn't buy property, you couldn't go certain places. >> i said i'm sorry, our management does not allow us to serve niggers in here. >> while jfk is looking at the moon and stars, you see real hypocrisy and contradiction. >> how can the united states be a democracy if its citizens are killing, are hurting, are hospitalizing its other citizens >> but in the spring of 1961, john f. kennedy and his brother robert didn't care that much about civil rights jack and bobby kennedy grew up rich and privileged. they never saw any african-americans other than people who waited on tables.
>> so they didn't get the terrible, terrible prejudice of southern whites against blacks. >> they were worried about russia. they were worried about the cold war, about the big game as they saw it, and they were afraid the civil rights struggle would somehow distract or deflect from the main event. >> many are saying enough is enough. they want the president to take action against the brutal oppression that so many african-americans are forced to endure. >> in the south, blacks could not ride on the same buses, or at least at the front of the bus, with whites. >> so in late may of 1961 there were these young black and white students who decided that they were going to integrate the interstate bus system in america. they called themselves the freedom riders. >> they're going to challenge segregation in the south by
riding through the most dangerous areas. >> passengers on one bus were attacked at the bus station in aniston. another bus that had a flat tire was set afire. >> it puts the savagery and the brutality on television and it puts kind of this massive resistance on display not just across the country but across the world. >> and the governor of alabama, john patterson had said citizens of the state are so enraged i cannot guarantee protection for this bunch of rabble-rousers. >> the whole world is watching. the violence could undermine kennedy's presidential authority. >> jfk says get them off the buses. stop them from demonstrating. >> jack does not want to back the protesters. supporting civil rhts would make him very unpopular with southern democrats. >> let's not forget, the south is solidly democratic. they call them dixiecrats but
they were democrats, so a big part of the power base for the kennedys rests in the south. >> in a desperate attempt to defuse the situation, bobby makes a call. >> bobby tried to convince the freedom riders that they should cool down for a bit and not embarrass the president. the wonderful response of the young civil rights leaders is "we've been cooling off and slowing down for 50 years and we're going to keep going." >> civil rights leader the reverend doctor martin luther king jr. arrives in montgomery, alabama, to join the assembly. the church is soon surrounded by an angry mob of 3,000 southern whites. >> there's a risk they're going to burn the church down, and king calls the attorney general in washington and says i need your help. >> hundreds of lives are in danger. bobby realizes he has to act. >> on the issue of civil rights, there's no middle ground. you're either for civil rights
or you're against civil rights. >> the attorney general couldn't let all these people die, that would have been an immense tragedy. bobby knew he had to protect them. >> it was a question of doing the right thing, politics be dammed. >> bobby sends in a federal force to protect the lives of martin luther king jr. and the freedom riders. >> and this was bobby's real baptism in terms of what the civil rights movement meant to him. >> bobby kennedy has to be educated. he doesn't come to the civil rights struggle with anything much different than any other wealthy white man of privilege would. >> but after the freedom riders, bobby went from wanting to have nothing to do with the civil rights movement to feeling he had to play a role. >> i think they're going to have to face up to our responsibilities. this is 1961, not 1861.
we're going to have to continue to make progress. >> for jack, the freedom riders' protests could not have come at a worse time. all eyes are on him when he heads to europe for his first face-to-face summit with the leader of the soviet union. >> john kennedy wanted to show the world he is a statesman but kennedy was walking into an ambush and he had no idea. right now when you lease a samsung galaxy s9, u get another for your friend, that's two for one. and with galaxy forever you can upgrade to the newest galaxy every year. it's like pre-ordering for the future. upgrades, every year? every year. upgrades, every year? every year. every year? every year. upgrades, every year? every year. upgrades, every year? yes, every year. how come no one's getting this? lease a samsung galaxy s9 and get a second on sprint. for people with hearing loss, and with galaxy forever, visit sprintrelay.com. always have the newest galaxy. music ends.
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i returned this morning from a week-long trip to europe and i want to report to you on that trip in full. it was in every sense an unforgettable experience. >> the kennedys' first international tour is their chance to present themselves on the world stage. in paris, however, jack kennedy is not the main attraction. >> that really was the moment when jackie kennedy became a genuine star. because she was so beautiful and because she was so young and effervescent the primary interest for the french media was jacqueline kennedy. >> she was so cultured and spoke fluent french to crusty old charles de gaulle yet you can
see him just melting. >> thousands of people lined the streets to see jackie. she was the first really glamorous american first lady they had ever seen. >> she wore american couture in the united states, but when in paris, givenchy. she just knew how to present herself to make the most of her personality, her beauty, her fashion. >> we had never seen a first lady in the tv age become the story herself. >> she made an enormous impact and jack recognized that this was greatly to his advantage. >> i do not think it all together inappropriate to introduce myself to this audience. i am the man who accompanied jacqueline kennedy to paris. and i've enjoyed it. [ laughter ] >> paris is a triumph for the kennedys.
but their next stop, vienna, is the real test for the young president. for the first time, he meets with the leader of the soviet union, nikita kruschev. >> the world is nervous about nuclear r in 1961 and they welcomed a summit meeting between the head of the soviet union, kruschev, and president kennedy. >> what kennedy wanted to do was to show the world i can find common language with this man. we can do business. >> a historic palace. the state dinner brings mr. and mrs. kennedy and mr. and mrs. kruschev together. >> during two days of talks jack launches a charm offensive spearheaded by the first lady. >> they had a lovely banquet, kruschev sat next to jackie and she did what she could to charm him. >> mr. kruschev visibly enjoys the evening with the glamorous american first lady and even insisted on shaking her hand
before her husband's. >> there's another kennedy dining with the kruschevs that night -- jack's mother rose. >> john f. kennedy did not want his mother to go. he didn't want a huge family delegation going with him to europe but his mom insisted. his mother loved the limelight. she was interested in power and she liked being around people with power. >> away from the banquets and the cameras, jack has a serious mission in vienna. both sides have enough missiles to destroy the entire world so kennedy intends to make a deal on nuclear disarmament with kruschev. >> john kennedy was deeply concerned about nuclear danger, that the cold war could spiral out of control. >> since the bay of pigs, jack no longer has full confidence in his own advisers.
>> kennedys always operate on more than one track. they always like to do things privately. and jack acts like a secret messenger to his friends and to his foes. >> in washington, bobby has gone so far as to hold secret meetings with a russian spy to open a back channel between the president and kruschev. >> it was something exciting and extraordinary. things like that had probably never gone on before. kennedy had taken risks by having bobby set up this back channel and he was hopeful that the soviets would respond. >> bobby through the russian spy had been led to believe that kruschev was ready to talk about nuclear arms. as it turned out, he wasn't the least bit interested. >> kruschev has only one agenda -- berlin. divided by the russians in the west after world war ii, people are flooding through
soviet-controlled east berlin to escape communism. it's a major source of embarrassment for kruschev. >> people are fleeing the eastern part into the west, and kruschev wants to stop that flood of refugees. >> in vienna, they went off into their meeting which was five hours long and a complete disaster. >> the soviet leader makes an impossible demand. he wants kennedy to surrender the western sector of berlin. >> kruschev just bullies kennedy. >> there was nothing kennedy could say to him except "i give up on west berlin" that would have made kruschev happy. kruschev was determined to put kennedy's feet to the fire. >> despite his best efforts jack is humiliated. leaves the mmit having achieved nothing. >> kennedy's first meetings with journalists after vienna, there was no spin. he was dejected, he didn't hide it. >> i will tell you now, it was a
very sober two days. no spectacular progress was either achieved or pretended. >> and two months later kruschev built the berlin wall, sealed off east berlin from west berlin and kennedy did nothing. >> kruschev goes one step further, testing even more powerful nuclear weapons, he shatters kennedy's hopes of slowing down the arms race. >> kennedy learned the soviets were not as committed as he was to avoiding war and that the world was in a very dangerous place. ♪ ♪
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at the compound all of that was forgotten. >> jack finds solace in his ever-growing extended family. in addition to his own children john jr. and caroline, his brothers and sisters have 17 children between them. >> the excitement when the helicopter landed and then they would take us for a ride on the golf cart with all the cousins. there were games and sailing and parties every night. there was always something going on. >> i think it's those moments that really kept them sane and focused on who they were and what their mission was. especially their political goals because a lot of politics talk was going on there. it was the center of all power. >> the kennedys may have power
but jack is frustrated by how difficult it is to achieve real progress. he needs his brother now more than ever. >> bobby became the chief law enforcement guy, his chief foreign policy adviser, his chief political aide and the closest thing that we have and we will ever see to a co-president. it seems amazing to this day to have these two brothers who are basically running the country together. >> there's one battle bobby kennedy is determined to fight on his own -- taking on the mafia. >> the mafia was huge in this country and there was a stronghold of mobster influence on politics and entertainment and government. >> they were very powerful, they were politically connected and when you investigated them, who would you run into? you'd run into an elected
official. >> this is robert pierpoint and that building across the street is the u.s. department of justice. >> since the 1950s, bobby has been rooting out corruption in the mob-infiltrated labor unions. >> the attorney general seldom leaves the office before 8:00 at night. >> as attorney general, he's determined to wage the biggest war on the mafia in american history. >> we need now more than talk, we need action. >> bobby kennedy had the single adjective stick with him more than anything else and it was the word "ruthless" and bobby learned, to joe's great delight, how to be a tough guy like papa joe. >> you have a reputation for toughness, for being a fighter. we've heard your father foster spirit of competition in the family.
>> i think so. as we were growing up i think in any family where there's a lot of children you're always fighting with one another, competing with one another. >> joe believes making such dangerous enemies could ruin the kennedy presidency. >> he said democrats don't go after labor leaders no matter how corrupt they might be. not only will you destroy your future but you'll destroy your brother's future. >> bobby was a stern moralist and tough guy, and there was a rebellious streak in him. he was willing to defy parental authority to go after the mob. >> this was personal. he felt these people were animals and he wanted personally to destroy them. >> there's one mobster in particular whom bobby is obsessed with bringing to justice.
>> sam giancana was the boss of chicago, was exactly the sort of villain bobby kennedy would want to take on. when bobby took on giancanna, the fat was in the fire. it was a confrontation that was never going to go away. >> so the fbi detail in chicago begins harassing him and his top lieutenants. >> they follow giancanna everywhere, wiretapping his girlfriends. even onto the golf course. >> were we afraid? no, as a matter of fact, we were pushed very hard by robert kennedy to do everything we could. he was a great guy if you were his friend. i would not have wanted to be his enemy. >> bobby's investigations may be hitting too close to home. >> this guy was well known t joe kennedy and he was a co-investor in a large casino. he and joe kennedy had bought condos in the hotel vicinity. >> wiretapped by the fbi,
giancanna makes a shocking allegation about joe kennedy. >> on the fbi tapes you can hear him bragging that he has a deal with joe kennedy, with the patriarch. he thinks he helped jfk get elected by arranging for him to get some votes in chicago. is this the sins of the father coming home to roost? >> there's absolutely no independent evidence that anything like that ever happened. i think those are gangsters talking. i don't think there's any truth to it. >> the truth is the kennedys did not need giancanna to win chicago. nevertheless, giancanna thinks he's been helping the kennedys so he feels betrayed when the kennedys turn against him. >> giancanna felt double-crossed and was threatening murder and revenge. >> but there's a greater danger than the mob or the perils of the cold war that will threaten the kennedy dynasty.
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you can't judge sugar looking at the cane, you can't judge a woman looking at her man. you can't judge a daughter by looking at the mother. you can't judge a book by looking at the cover. taking one look. try to read me like a book but i leave 'em all shook 'cuz you can't judge a book by its cover. you can't judge a book by looking at the cover [x2] joseph kennedy, while he had left the stage, was very much a leader. he was a source of advice, of
strategy, and he was a sounding board. >> he was an essential support for jack kennedy. he spoke to him a lot on the phone, who jack could call at 2:00 in the morning. he was really always there for him. >> and in december of 1961, all of that disappeared. >> joe is at the family vacation home in palm beach. >> joe kennedy goes out to play golf. he loved nothing better than to play golf. he was pretty good. especially when money was on the line. >> and on the 8th hole, he began to feel faint. he said, please take me home. >> and he goes back to the house. jackie is there. >> he said, i just need to rest. >> don't call any doctors.
those were his last words. he then went into his room, and he suffered a massive stroke. >> joseph is taken to the hospital. immediately he's put on the critical list. he's in real bad shape. he's even given last rites because they think he might pass away. for jackie to be the one to tell jack that this has happened, it's devastating. >> jack, bobby, and their sister jean, fly from washington to be at their father's side. >> they all rush to be with him in the hospital, and everybody is in a panic. joe might not live. >> joe's doctors don't think they can save him. but bobby refuses to let them turn off his father's life support. >> bobby i think partly as a matter of adoring his partly, partly as a matter of his
catholic faith, was not about to do anything that was going to end his father's life. >> joseph kennedy survives. but the stroke takes a terrible toll. >> it was awful. because he was such a vital force. we would play with him in hyannisport where we'd walk on the beach or go swimming. so when he had a stroke, it was shocking. >> his face was disfigured. one side of his body was useless. but worst of all, you lost the power of speech. this man who never stopped talking. who was fabulously eloquent. who could walk into any room with anybody and command the attention of the crowd lost his voice.
lost his words. lost language. >> there was always a sense that as long as joseph is at the helm, things are going to work joe is ttehe arc of everything. and for him to be sidelined when they're finally there is such a tragedy. >> and for that to come at the end of a mean year, that was a terrible way for john f. kennedy to end 1961. >> as jack and jackie pose for the cameras, the mood in the white house is anything but
festive. >> we know exactly what president kennedy was thinking at the end of his first year, when he was approached by an author who said, i'm going to be writing a book on the first year of your presidency, the president's response was, why would anyone want to read a book about this first year? >> in 1961, the kennedys came out of the white house cocky. confident. bright. by the end of 1961, they're chastened. bullied by khrushchev, humiliating by castro. the mob is threatening. they've made more enemies than friends and some of those enemies are truly dangerous. >> next on "american dynasties: the kennedys" -- >> jackie smiled for the camera, but there was sadness behind that smile. >> he had a reckless streak.
>> sinatra goes absolutely berserk and just starts destroying things. >> aggressive conduct ultimately leads to war. >> she said, i'd rather die with you than live without you. ♪ beirut. my birthmark. what came with you, beirut, bullets before my mother's milk. beirut, you are under my skin, split bit by bit, you melt into sunset on blistered rooftops. it hurts to touch you, beirut. you are a lesson i will never learn. it hurts to love you, beirut.
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