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Secret Jackie Kennedy tapes not as sordid as reported, ABC says

August 8, 2011 |  5:48 pm

Image: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and her children, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Kennedy, in 1992. Credit: Associated Press The British newspaper the Daily Mail recently posted a story on its website claiming to have inside information on the secret tapes Jackie Kennedy made with historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. just months after her husband's death. 

According to the Mail story, the tapes are filled with sordid information -- including tales of the president's affair with a 19-year-old intern, Jackie Kennedy's belief that Lyndon Johnson and a cartel of Texas businessmen were responsible for John F. Kennedy's assassination, and stories of her own affair with the movie star William Holden.

The story quickly made the rounds of the Internet, but ABC, the network that actually has the tapes, dismissed the Mail's claims as bogus.

"The tabloid reports about the content of the tapes are totally erroneous," a spokesperson from ABC said in a statement. "ABC News isn't releasing any content from those tapes until mid-September, at which point it will be clear how off base these reports are."     

The Mail updated the original story to include ABC's response, but did not remove the original story from its site.

Jackie Kennedy had requested that the tapes, which total eight hours and were made just four months after her husband was killed, not be released until 50 years after her death. But her daughter, Caroline Kennedy, agreed to let ABC have access to the tapes now — just 17 years after her mother's death. The network is putting together a "20/20" special with by Diane Sawyer in which Americans will get to hear the tapes for the first time. It's scheduled to air in September.

The special will coincide with the release of a new book based partly on the tapes: "Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy." It has a forward by Caroline Kennedy and annotations by historian Michael Beschloss.

"It is a great privilege to be able to share these recollections with the millions of people who admire my parents. My mother took very seriously the obligation to preserve and document the history of my father's administration -- and these interviews are the result. I am honored to play a small part in that effort by bringing them forward in connection with the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy administration," Caroline Kennedy told ABC News.

It's unlikely she would feel that way if the tapes reveal details described in the Mail article.

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-- Deborah Netburn

Image: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and her children, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Kennedy, in 1992. Credit: Associated Press

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