tv Around the World CNN November 20, 2013 9:00am-10:01am PST
hey. all right. well, that concludes the formal part of today's ceremony. i want to thank all of you for being here. obviously, we are deeply indebted to those who we honor here today. and we're going to have an opportunity to take some pictures with the honorees and their family members. the rest of you, i understand the food here is pretty good. so i hope you enjoy the
reception. and you know, i hope we carry away from this a reminder of what will jfk understood to be the essence of the american spirit. that it's represented here and some of us may be less talented but we all have the opportunity to serve and to open people's hearts and minds, you know, in our smaller orbits. so i hope everybody's been as inspired as i have been participating and being with these people here today. thank you very much, everybody. >> welcome back to cnn's coverage of president obama awarding the presidential medal of freedom to 16 extraordinary
americans, be including former president bill clinton. the honorees ranged from the former president to talk show host oprah winfrey and the late astronaut sally ride. this is also the 50th anniversary of the award, which was brought to the nation by president john f. kennedy 50 years ago. here with me eleanor, let's start with you, the clintons and obamas, this is a big day historically. after doing this ceremony, participating in the ceremony, the 50th anniversary of the medal of freedom, they are going to going to john f. kennedy's gravesite to pay homage to a president who forever be young and popular. i think it's fair to say this is a low point for president obama. president clinton had some low points of his own. he's now got extraordinary popularity. he's a democratic icon. republicans even like him. he's provided a life raft to the
this president in the past. they need each other. there's a third person that will be joining them at the gravesite, hillary clinton. >> of course. >> i can't think of a parallel in history where you have a sitting president, a former president and a potential next president and so bill clinton's legacy is involved here. obama's success, how hillary clinton terms her campaign if she runs. i did a lot of interviewing on in this week and one person said to me for hillary clinton, it's like a romance novel. she's torn between her two men. she'll be held accountable for the clinton years, the obama years and have to forge her own future. so these three people, their fates and their fortunes are really intertwined. i think there are tensions always underneath but they're all good politicians and good people and they know how to behave most of the time. >> donna, i want to talk about the times that president obama has needed president bill clinton, despite the tensions between them, he has needed him, and president clinton has delivered. >> i think the tension is
overrated at times because president obama reaches out to a lot of people. i know that's not well nobody, but bill clinton is one of those individuals who i think is always on the phone. if the president said today, off and on, he talked to bill clinton. he talks to hillary clinton. he talks to a number of people across the board. but jake, i want to say something. this is a day that people will remember as a moment when we look back at john f. kennedy and what he inspired. the civil rights movement. the women's movement. i mean, john f. kennedy was the first president to issue a report on equal pay for women back in 1963. this is a big day in history because we honor those who ruffled feathers, who step on toes and today we give them a medal because of the fact that they were courageous. >> you know that picture we were just showing on the air now of president obama looking at bill clinton, it just begs a question, what are they thinking at this particular moment.
you want little captions over hair heads, right? and you know, you read so much and we know so much about their uneasy relationship. remember, during hillary clinton's tough campaign against president obama, he was saying at that point, candidate obama, this whole thing is the biggest fairy tale i've ever seen. >> talking about his opposition to the war in iraq. >> exactly. >> the whole obama story. >> so you can't make this can relationship up. it's gone through so many turns and then of course, hillary clinton when she went into the cabinet, people were saying could she be loyal to president obama, and of course, she feels. so now. >> concerned about whether or not former president bill clinton would be able to control himself and -- >> which he did. which he did. so now, you know, there's a question of another campaign looming. and divided loyalty. president obama between joe biden, his sitting haven't and hillary clinton. i mean, the story will continue.
it was remarkable to watch these two men today. >> it really was. it's such a grand magnificent tradition, the presidential medal of freedom. and president obama made some jokes during the ceremony, in fact, when he was awarding the presidential medal of freedom to oprah winfrey, he said this. >> earlier i in oprah winfrey's career, her bosses told her she should change her name to suzi. i have to pause here to say i got the same advice. >> president obama making a joke about names there. and in a way, it's a funny idea, the idea of the suzi winfrey show. but it also shows something about where america is in 2013 compared to where the country was when oprah and president obama were starting their careers and the idea that those crazy names would be a
hindrance. >> that barack would be a hipd rans. that was the theme today, all about social transformation, women's rights, civil rights, gay rights. also people unlikely to make it to the top. and i think president obama sees himself that way and a lot of people in that room probably are pretty amazed they're sitting there. >> not a lot of silver spoons in that crowd. >> no, it's about the ability of this country to adjust and change and transform itself. and you know, we see that will. we were just talking when we watched gloria steinham as three women sitting here, wondering whether we would be here if it hadn't been for someone like gloria steinham particularly in the fields we've chosen, politics, journalism. it was a remarkable array of people there. kind of makes you proud. >> of course, donna, we can't ignore the fact that this is a tough time for president obama right now. even though there is tremendous ceremony and magnif sans about the day, about the medals of freedom with more some lelness
going to the gravesite of president kennedy. president obama did joke about that when he was giving an award to a noted psychologist earlier in the ceremony. >> all of us have moments when we look back and wonder what the heck was i thinking? i have that quite a bit. >> no specific medication of the healthcare.gov website, but -- >> self-deprecating humor, that's the road back. he can laugh at himself. >> kennedy trait, right? >> what did you read into that? >> i think it's a tough time. no question about it. i think about two years ago in the fall of 2011, up with year before the election, the president's job approval rating dipped. everyone was worried about his re-election prospects, and he came through with over 50% of the vote. i mean, when you think about
c.t. vivian, and bayard rusten, he can straw strength from those who can march on. this was a good day for him to go in with so many heroes and sheroes. >> bill clinton no, sir something about being a comeback kid. he had some comebacks during his time in the white house. president might draw inspiration from them as they stand at the kennedy gravesite, i was trying to imagine what they would be thinking, the two of them plus hillary clinton. the best i could come up with is we shall all hang together or assuredly we will hang separately. i think they are bound together. >> something tells me maybe bill clinton and the president might have a private conversation. that would not surprise me. >> i can tell you bill clinton will have a private conversation. >> i know. >> i can only think that john f. kennedy, martin luther king, bobby kennedy probably all today are singing "we shall overcome."
>> just one final thought on them going to the kennedy gravesite, president obama has no memory of john f. kennedy. he was born two years before john f. kennedy was killed. but bill clinton, there is the famous photograph. this was a man who meant a great deal to him. >> but he does have a memory of ted kennedy, one of his mentors in the senate, one of the people closest to him, someone without whom he could not have done health care reform, right? ted kennedy's part of it. >> thank you so much. stay with cnn as we continue special coverage. in the next hour, we will be remembering john f. kennedy as president and first lady. go to arlington cemetery for a special service. her busy saturday begins with back pain, when... hey pam, you should take advil. why? you can take four advil for all day relief. so i should give up my two aleve for more pills with advil? you're joking right? for my back pain, i want my aleve.
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flash apparently official. president kennedy died at 1:00 p.m. central standard time. >> that announcement confirming a monumental tragedy for the nation, the charismatic young president, john f. kennedy was gunned down in the prime of his career with his wife by his side. friday marks 50 years since that fateful day in dallas, the assassination of the 35th president of the united states. we want to welcome viewers to this special edition of "cnn newsroom." i'm wolf blitzer in washington. we're bringing you special live coverage as president obama gets ready to lead the nation in honoring the legacy of the slain president, john f kennedy. tributes have been under way over at the white house. you saw the ceremony here just
moments ago as president obama awarded the medal of freedom to a wide spectrum of prominent americans. prominent americans including the former president bill clinton, the former first lady and secretary of state hillary rodham clinton will also join the former president and the current president at the wreath-laying ceremony as it happens within the top of the next hour. i should say. we'll bring you live coverage. we have a panel of correspondents and commentators, historians that will take us back through this significant moment in american history. right now, let's go back to that all of all of day in dallas and the bright november afternoon in 1963 that became a dark moment in history. america would never be the same. here's an excerpt from our program, "the assassination of president kennedy." >> there are two or three emotional experiences burned
into his heart and his brain and no matter what happens to me, i'll remember november the 22nd as long as i live. >> there has been an attempt on the life of president kennedy. >> they are coving the floors of the texas book depository building to find the assassin. >> mr. president. >> oswald has been shot at point blank range fired into his stomach. police are working on the assumption that oswald's murder was to shut him up. >> gentlemen of the central intelligence agency killed john kennedy. >> the story has been suppressed. witnesses have been killed. we have a right to know who killed our president and why he died. >> i stand here tonight on what was once the last frontier. where pioneers gave up their safety and sometimes their lives
to build our new west. beyond that frontier are uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered problems of ignorance and prejudice. but i believe that the times require imagination and courage. i'm asking each of you to be pioneers towards that new frontier. >> in dallas, preparations were already underway for extraordinary police protection when the president should arrive. >> do you anticipate any trouble on the president's arrival? >> because of what has happened here previously, we would be foolish i think not to anticipate some trouble.
i don't, really i don't anticipate any violence. >> here comes air force number one, the president's plane now touching down. >> and mrs. kennedy and the crowd yells and the president of the united states. and i can see his untan all the way from here. >> looking at how things actually went, it wasn't just a trip to dallas. it was a political trip preparing for the 1964 elections. >> shaking hands now with the dallas people, governor and mrs. connolly. governor knowly on you ever left. >> it was whether president kennedy could use his influence to get all the squabbling democrats in texas to come together before the election the next year. >> and here comes the president now. in fact, he's not in his limousine.
he's departed from the limousine and shaking hands across the fence. >> in those days, everybody could get a lot closer to the president. i was standing behind mrs. kennedy and i au a hand reach through the chain link fence and break off one of the red roses. >> thousands of children swarming trying to get over the fence. the police trying to keep them back. >> this is great for the people and makes the eggshells even thiper for the secret service's job to guard the pan. >> the trip had gone well in texas. pretty hard to write a script for it going any better. >> thousands will be on hand for the motorcade now which will be downtown dallas. >> a number of my classmates were gone, they were at the parade. my father had been invited to have lunch with kennedy at the trade center. there was a mood, a climate of excitement. >> the speech of president kennedy at the dallas trademark will be broadcast by 570 radio. stay tuned for the president's
dallas speech at the trade mart on dallas 570 radio. ♪ ♪ big boss man, won't you help me when i call ♪ ♪ ♪ yeah, big boss man, won't you help me when i call ♪ ♪ well you ain't so big, you just tall, that's all ♪ >> this bulletin just into the news. date line, dallas, three shots were fired at the motorcade of president kennedy today in downtown dallas. >> police radios are carrying that the president has been hit. >> parkland hospital has been advised to stand by for a severe gunshot wound. >> this is walter cronkite in our newsroom. there has been an attempt on the life of president kennedy.
>> let's turn the mic on. i can't hear you, johnny. what do you want? do you want me to move back a little bit? is it all right now? is this all right? ladies and gentlemen, i'd like to introduce to you the chief camera mann and assistant news director. this is burt shift. burt, we have brought the people pretty much up to date. would you tell them exactly what you know as of this point? >> jay, i was standing at the trade mart awaiting his arrival there. all of a sudden, the -- we saw them approach. they didn't slow down. matter of fact, they were going 70, 0 miles an hour past us. and then i jumped in a police car and went to parkland. these twos men come running in. one of them had a large machine
gun and they was hollering for stretchers and cots and everything and the governor they brought in first. >> what happened after this? >> then the president came in behind him and they took him, both of them. >> albert thomas, democrat of texas, is standing outside the corridor of the emergency room, said he's been told the president was still alive. but in very critical condition. >> the president has not arrived here. a group of secret servicemen and other officials has gathered where the president normally would enter and discussing heatedly with one another some subject or other. we have no idea what. here's announcement from the platform. mr. eric johnson within announcement. >> it is true that our president, governor connolly in the motorcade have been shot.
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obama to place a wreath at the late president john f. kennedy's gravesite. in just two days, it will be 50 years since his assassination. president kennedy is one of two presidents buried at arlington. his grave has become a must see landmark for so many visitors to the washington, d.c. area. this special hour, we have a panel of correspondents, commentators and historians to take us back through that
significant moment. history. we'll talk to them in a few moments but now, let's take you back to that fateful day in dallas. here's another excerpt from the show "the assassination of president kennedy." >> a gentleman just walked in our studio that i am meeting for the first time as well as you. this is wfaatv in dallas, texas. may i have your name. >> my name is abraham zep pruder. >> would you tell us your story, please, sir. >> i got out about a half hour earlier to get a good spot to the shoot some pictures. 5-year-old boy and myself were by ourselves on the grass there on palmer street and i asked to wave and i waved. >> that's all right, sir. >> as he was waving back, he was -- the shot rang out and he slumped down in the seat. >> all of a sudden, this next
one popped and governor connally grabbed his stomach and kind of laid over to the side. and another one, it was just all so fast and president kennedy reached up and grabbed looked like grabbed his air and blood started gushing out. >> i didn't see any person fire the weapon. >> you only heard it. >> i only heard it and saw a man running up this hill. >> if it's a conspiracy, not only the president was hit, the governor was hit, who knows if the next in the shot would have been for lyndon johnson. his car pulse into the emergency bay at parkland hospital. four agents reach in and grab johnson and pull him out and start to run him down one corridor around looking for a safe place. >> mr. johnson his whereabouts are being kept secret for security reasons. if anyone knows where mr. johnson is, it it is not us at this moment. >> there was a an signal moment in our cultural history suddenly it occurred to us, the right
thing to do is to turn on television. >> reports continue to come in but in a confused and fragmentary fashion. >> president kennedy has been given a blood transfusion at parkland hospital here in dallas in an effort to save his life. >> it was odd because there were no commercials. it was just a continuous experience. >> two priests have entered the emergency room at parkland hospital where he rests after the assassination attempt which now was about a half hour ago. >> what are your feelings right now? >> shock, stunned. we have the same birthday. i was just crazy about him. >> who would want to shoot the president? what did he do? i mean he's been doing so much for the country. somebody shoots him? >> a flash from dallas. two priests who were with president kennedy say he is
dead. >> of bullet wounds. this is the latest information we have from dallas. i will repeat with the greatest regret, two priests who were with president kennedy say he has died of bullet wounds. >> malcolm chilledoff the assistant press secretary was filling in for the regular press secretary and he had to draw himself out to give the most fateful announcement a press secretary might ever have to give. >> all the cameras were rolling and i remember he put his fingers on the desk and pressed very hard to stop his hands tremblinging >> john f. kennedy died at approximately 18:00 central standard time today here in dallas. he died of a gunshot wound in the brain.
>> slow it down. >> i have no other details regarding the assassination of the president. >> the people standing here are stunned just as all of us are beyond belief. that the president of the united states is dead. >> all over the world, people are going to remember all their lives what they were doing when they first heard that president kennedy had been killed. >> the crowds are standing around in silence and sorrow and the rain. the strange thing is you don't even notice it's raining, and if you do notice, you don't care. >> i just capital believe it. i feel like someone in my own family has died. i just can't believe it.
>> ma'am. >> like a days. you don't know what's going on. why. why did it happen? who would have are done such a thing is the question. >> in the first minutes and hours, chaos and confusion was radiating out from the scene itself. it was very pervasive. >> i think the service agents saw the gunfire from an automatic weapon, fired possibly from a grassy knoll. >> i saw some police. i thought they're chasing a gunman. i ran with had im. >> we now hear it was a man and a woman. >> i got to the top, looked around and a policeman went over the fence so i went over, too. there was nothing there. >> the television newsman said that he looked up just after the shot was fired and saw a rifle being withdrawn from a fifth or sixth floor window. >> it was originally thought that the shots came from in here and now it's believed that the
shots came from this building here. >> i see police officers running back toward the school depository building. they are going to continue searching in that building for the would be assassin of the president. >> in the center of downtown dallas is in a virtual state of siege. they are combing the floors of the texas depository building in an evident to find the suspects assassin. >> in the building on the sixth floor, we found an area near a win that had partially been blocked off by boxes of books and also the three spent shells that will had apparently been fired from a rifle. >> crime lab "t" j.c. day just came out of that building with a british .303 rifle. >> it was a 7.65 mouzer. >> the high powered japanese rifle a ..25 caliber. >> a 3030 rifle. >> much of the first things you hear are going to be wrong. and to some degree, you have
constantly trying to separate out what seemed to be a fact. >> in dallas, a dallas policeman just a short while ago was shot and killed while chasing a suspect. >> j.d.tippett, a good experienced plif, was shot three times in the chest in the oak cliff section of dallas. then the manager of a shoe store saw the suspect walk into the texas theater. >> someone has been arrested in one of the dwoupt theaters. they don't know if it was the man who shot the policeman or the person who actually shot president kennedy. >> police suddenly jumped this man and decided to drag him out of the theater. hustled him out to the car as the crowd broke and started to mall the police officers and grabbed this man trying to run with him. they shot at him and ran away just as fast as they could. >> as we mentioned a short while ago, a number of arrests have been made in dallas in the wake
of president kennedy's death. we have scenes of one of those arrests in the downtown area. this was just after eight dallas policeman was shot in the vicinity of a downtown movie house. >> what's your first name? >> paul bentley. >> how did you approach him? >> i'm sorry. i approached him, as he approached him, the man hit mcdomd in the face with his left hand and reaped for the pistol with his right hand. as he reached for his pistol, i grabbed him along with two or three other officers. >> what did he say to you after he was arrested? >> we said, this is it. it's all over with now. i started part-time, now i'm a manager.n. my employer matches my charitable giving. really. i get bonuses even working part-time. where i work, over 400 people are promoted every day.
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edition of cpn "newsroom." i'm wolf blitzer in washington. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. in just a few moments, president obama along with the first lady and the clintons, the former presidenten at form are secretary of state, will arrive at arlington national cemetery, the final resting place for just two united states presidents, william howard taft and john
fitzgerald kennedy. president obama will lay a wreath at jfk's gravesite. it's been 50 years since his assassinati assassination. one thing we all saw in that historic film footage was charles collingwood, making that prediction that became absolutely the truth. he said these words "all over the world, people are going to remember -- going to remember all their lives what they were doing when they first heard that president kennedy had been killed." of course, all of us who lived through that era do exactly remember where we were. i was in social studies classes in ken can more, new york, outside of buffalo. i remember my social studies teacher telling us the president had been shot. we didn't know he had been killed yet but they called off school. they told us we should all go home and i remember walking into my home in ken moore, new york, seeing my mother in the kitchen crying hysterically at the time because by then all of us knew
the president was dead. let's talk to some people here about that tragic and memorable day. john king, our cnn chief national correspondent was just a baby in november, 1963. you're looking at live pictures from the jfk gravesite right there. doug brinkley, presidential historian, gerald posner who wrote a book called "case closed," about jfk's assassinati assassination, maureen orthwho has written extensively about how the presidency changed dramatically on november 2nd, 1963, and eleanor clift who just marked her 50th year at news week" magazine. eleanor, you remember exactly where you were, what you were doing and what you were thinking. >> i was hired earlier that will year in 1963 as a secretary to the national affairs editor. and the bulletin came across on the news wire, that the
president had been shot. then we turned on the television. it wasn't like there were televisions everywhere like there are today. i think there was probably one television everybody collected around. and, of course, when we learned that the president had died, the national affairs editor, he told everyone to go home and do their grieving. it happened on a friday, the day that the news magazine goes to bed. and he said go home. we'll put out the magazine the next day. i watched him sort of draft a story list, contact, we had a bureau in houston kind of unheard of today. we had a stringer in dallas. he assembled what was really vast machinery that a news magazine had to get the reporting, to assign the writers and researchers and just being among such professional people basically hooked me on journalism forever. the grief of that day lingers. when you watch the footage, you hope it's going to turn out differently even though you know the answer. >> i know you were inspired in
your life, maureen, because it had a powerful impact on you as it did on so many other people. >> yes, i was at the university of california, berkeley. and in those days, president kennedy had just announced really the peace corps. i had been inspired to try to join, and i september in my application. and then i received -- when i received my acceptance letter, was the next week and it was dated november 22nd, 1963. it was just a huge moment for me. and that was what i think was so much of his legacy was this inspiration to service. he made the world a much bigger globe for so many young americans. and his vision inspired us to go forth and to serve. >> john, i don't know how old you were, but you must have been a little kid. >> i was a week shy i have three months. my mom used to tell me that she was in the house when they heard the news and that i spent most of the day on her lap as she
watched walter cronkite. she would say that i was a bit of a distraction during the day, perhaps helpful in that. but for the generation that wasn't alive, that doesn't have the memory, i think we grew up in the myth of john f. kennedy. i don't mean that in a negative way at all. if you're irish catholic kid and you grew up in boston, most of the houses you went into, be somewhere in the kitchen, maybe in the front foyer, there was a picture of jack kennedy and a picture of jesus christ. that's sort of how you lived. that was what my neighborhood was like and kids you went to school with, whether they were italians, that was the way it was. so i, you have no firsthand memory. i had the great privilege last year, you remember, i was gone a lot. a fellow at the kennedy school of government, the institute of politics. because i was only part time they let me stay in his dorm reply room where he was a college student. they've redone the room to be like it was when he was there. it was quite a treat.
it was full of pictures of him at harvard and later in his political career. it's a somewhat different perspective when you can only learn through the hadivity books, but i think this 50th anniversary is hopefully stirring in people, especially because of what maureen and eleanor mentioned, the commitment at the institute of politics you see young people from all over the world who have this commitment to serve. and if that can be a legacy of any president, for give the language, that's damn good. >> he certainly had an impact on former president bill clinton. gerald posner, let me bring you into this part of the conversation because we saw the former president, bill clinton, there with the current president at the white house. they're all going to be over at the wreath-laying ceremony in a few moments. i want to put up a screen, a picture of a young bill clinton, a high school kid. there he is right there. he's shaking hands with president john f. kennedien an clearly like so many other young people, he was inspired there when he was visiting the white house. i think what, he was 16 years old off what.
there he is with the current president 50 years later getting this medal from the president today. gerald posner and then i'm going to bringing in douglas brinkley. give us your thoughts when you see these two presidents today about to remember jfk. >> you know, wolf, you're so right. that picture of bill clinton at 16 in the rose garden it's an iconic photo that becomes a clear moment that clinton always remembers. next to him, barack obama today giving him his award, barack obama's really the first president without a memory of jack kennedy. born in 1961. we have a first lady today with michelle obama born after the president was killed in 1964. so it's the first time we've had a couple in the white house without that memory. i think that is a defining generational shift and change in terms of the white house and the leadership in washington without that the visible memory of that assassination date the rest of
us have. >> are you surprised, doug brinkley, you're a presidential historian, how powerful that will moment to 508 years ago has become for so many people, not only in the united states but around the world? >> no it, i'm not at all. first off, being the first catholic president, you know, is a big deal. he was so handsome and we all get older and john f. kennedy's the gallant president gunned down in his prime. also, if you've been pointing out, television was just really coming into dominating communications around the world. so all this footage went everywhere. you can imagine. but also he had a lot of great -- when you go there to arlington to that eternal flame, you have the kennedy in space, kennedy in civil rights. kennedy in the environment with rachel carson. a lot of what he was doing and the new frontier sets up the -- what future presidents have to deal with.
>> all right. i want everyone to stay with us because we're getting ready, the president and the first lady, the former president, form are secretary of state among others, they will go here. you're looking at live pictures of the jfk gravesite. they will be here to lay a wreath and remember represident john f. kennedy. our special coverage continues right after this.
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these are live pictures from the john f. kennedy gravesite. the president of the united states, the first lady, the former president bill clinton, mrs. clinton will be there among other distinguished guests. they will lay a wreath there remembering 50 years ago friday when the former president of the united states was assassinated in dallas. since then, there have been so many conspiratorial theories about what happened, lee harvey oswald, did he act alone? was he ordered to do so? gerald posner has been investigating this for years. you've concluded, beak, gerald, and correct me if i'm wrong, there's no evidence i've conspiracy. the warren commission basically got it right, is that your
conclusion? >> exactly, wolf. the warren commission got the basic conclusion right. they were lied to by the cia and fbi had a cover-up to protect their own bureaucratic behinds. they got the sequence of shots wrong but got it right when they said oswald killed kennedy alone. this weekend as we get to the 50th, oswald was interrogated for nearly 12 hours five different times by dallas police homicide detectives and the district attorney. their first concern was the one you would expect from any terror investigation, are there accomplices, there others out there, is somebody going after lbj, somebody else on the plot. once they were convinced there wasn't, they sort of had their man although 508 years later, many americans don't believe that. >> i know doug brinkley, so many conspiracies out there involving cuba and castro, the former soviet union, the mafia, the cia. you can go on and on and on. you've done a lot of research. your bottom line?
>> i agree with posner. have for a while. anybody looks into it knows that lee harvey oswald killed john f. kennedy. what was his game? what's his motive? somehow i feel we're not positive about that. it would have been great if those dallas police would have tape recorded lee harvey oswald, but it was a different era. they didn't. there was some sloppy police work. the warren commission did sop sloppy work. think how quickly they had to do it. in the end we have to thank people like allen dulles, gerald ford, people on the commission for the pretty good job they did getting it right that quickly. >> pretty good in your opinion. we've got a lot more to discuss. we're getting ready to see the president and the first lady over there at the gravesite at arlington national cemetery. they will lay a wreath and have a little service there. our special coverage continues in a minute. farmer: hello, i'm an idaho potato farmer.
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this is arlington national cemetery. in just a few minutes, president obama will be here to honor the memory of president john f. kennedy laying a wreath at his grave. the first lady will be there, as well. the former president, bill clinton, will be there, as well. stay with cnn. you will see all of that live coverage coming up in a few minutes. let's continue our conversation though as we approach the 50th anniversary of jfk's assassination. john king, eleanor clift, maureen orthare still with me in the studio. also joining us historian douglas brinkley, kathy horn with the "new york times" and the author gerald posner. we've been discussing the historic moment 50 years later, what's going on. it's interesting, i want to show viewers, here say live picture. you see the eternal flame there at the gravesite of john f.
kennedy. this was the idea of jacqueline kennedy by all accounts, she was the one who told her associates and the u.s. army corps of engineers moved quickly, a last-minute decision to go ahead and establish that eternal flame. she later told william manchest manchester, the kennedy family friend, that the idea just came into my head she said because on an earlier trip toparis, the kennedys had seen a similar flame an the memorial to the french unknown soldier at the arc de triomphe. maureen, this is typical. you spent a lot of time studying jacqueline kennedy. it's not surprising she would want that eternal flame at her husband's gravesite. >> absolutely. i think the whole focus of that administration outside the official, sort of the official affairs of state was really to bring a sense of excellence and glamour and trying to appeal to
the very highest, her parties, for example, would be nobel prize winners and the top people in -- who contributed to our society. it wasn't as it is today,' lot of fat cats and fund raisers. it really trying to appeal to our highest nature. >> the those three years she was first lady were unique as far as jacqueline kennedy and what she did to the country. >> she was 31 years old. it's extraordinary the sense of history that she brought to the white house and the way that she so style lish shi shifted from the sleepy eisenhower years to really it's the first president who was born in the 20th century. so she brought a sense of modernity to the white house and everything this young family did was news. helen thomas who covered the white house then when caroline kennedy's hamster went missing 0 died, you know, that was