Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
Photo Gallery

Part:         Session:         Page of 512

person at the Times who brought back the word that this man should really be taken seriously as a presidential candidate, as a presidential possibility, quite early.

To go back a bit, I had been at a dinner in New York at the Century Association, sitting next to one of the editors of Harper's. I turned to him and said, “You're just the fellow who can tell me the answer to a question that's been puzzling me. I have heard a very great deal about the probability that Senator Kennedy was not the author of Profiles in Courage.” The book had recently been published and had created a big sensation, and it was very widely stated around New York that Kennedy had had this book ghostwritten for him by Ted Sorenson and by others. I had heard this repeatedly, and a few days before the dinner party where I found myself next to the Harper's editor, who to the best of my recollection was Mike Bessie, had heard a very specific account of how Kennedy was not the author, and who the author of the book really was. So I naturally in a half-joking way said to Bessie that I thought he could give me the lowdown, because, after all, Harper's were the publishers of the book. He was visibly annoyed and spent the rest of the dinner pounding into me the fact that Kennedy was the author and this was a terrible canard that was going around, and I should know better than to repeat it in even such a form as I had, which was actually in the form of a question. He was so irritated by the whole thing that we really had a rather unpleasant meal, and that was that.

Well, a few days later I made one of my period trips to Washington and had a date with Jack Kennedy as usual. As I walked into his office, he got up and greeted me with a letter held in his outstretched hand. He said, “John, this was a letter that I had dictated to you

© 2006 Columbia University Libraries | Oral History Research Office | Rights and Permissions | Help