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Interview with Larry Leamer

Aired July 1, 2003 - 19:31   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Four years ago this month John F. Kennedy and his wife Carolyn Bessette and her sister died in a plane crash. Today the couple was again front page news in two New York papers. There they are. The "Daily News" and the "Post" both focused on explosive charges in a new book a book that describes the marriage on the rock with tales of affairs, anger and drug abuse. "The Kennedy Curse: Why Tragedy Has Haunted America's First Family For 150 Years" by Edward Klein is being exerted in "Vanity Fair." That's the book causing all of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
Among its claims, John Kennedy was angry over his wife's alleged abuse of cocaine. Here's an exert, which the author says is from an unnamed source.

"He found Carolyn sprawled on the floor in front of a sofa, disheveled and hollow-eyed, snorting cocaine with a gaggle of gay fanshionistas."

But another Kennedy Biographer doesn't think there's much to the book's claims. Larry Leamer us the author of the "Kennedy Men."

He joins me to talk about this latest story. Thanks very much for being with us.

LARRY LEAMER, AUTHOR: Thanks for having me.

COOPER: Just first blush, when you read this article, what did you think?

LEAMER: I've done a lot of things in journalism, I've covered wars, I've worked in a coal mine in (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but I've never interviewed a pedicurist. I never thought a pedicurist...

COOPER: You're saying that because a lot of these quotes and a lot of these stories are all from unnamed sources and one of them, in fact, is from someone who was allegedly getting a pedicure next to Carolyn Bessette while she was getting a pedicure.

LEAMER: Yes, this is our history and the cover of our two leading tabloid papers in New York today. Not looking to see whether it's true or not. Not making any type of investigation. And you know, it's all about sources. Where does this material come from? I mean, you know, the author's not here to defend himself. But when the book comes out he should have the right an obligation to say where this material comes from. COOPER: Let's talk about some of the specific claims in this book. Klein claims that Carolyn Bessette was upset about her dress on the day she was getting married, delayed their wedding by two hours. You say this is not true.

LEAMER: No. This is an example of that. That -- the wedding was delayed. It was delayed for two and a half hours. Yes, she was having trouble putting her dress on, and John lost his cuff links. This is the kind of guy losing his wallet -- all this kind of -- that's why he was late. But you know what, nobody noticed because they're having such a great time. They weren't at the chapel in Las Vegas having to be pushed out of there. So, he misses the whole point. There was a wonderful party. Nobody even realized and two and a half hours later, didn't matter at all.

COOPER: Also in this article, a Klein says, quote, "It Was Carolyn's constant meddling that finally wrecked John's the relationship with business partner Michael Berman (ph)."


LEAMER: I'm working on my book, "Kennedy Sons," coming out early next year and I have cooperation of all John's close friends and all kinds of people who have never talked before.

COOPER: So you're say that's not true.

LEAMER: That's absolutely not true. It had nothing to do with that. In that article, everything bad that happened is blamed on her, you see. But he -- I mean, and that's just not -- has nothing to do with that.

COOPER: I mean, do you believe any of the things in this article? I mean it talks about extramarital affairs.

LEAMER: I think it got the ages right.

COOPER: That bad?


COOPER: What the difference?

You've talked to a lot of John Kennedy's friends for years.

LEAMER: All of his closest.

COOPER: Have you talked to any of them about this article and reaction?

LEAMER: Yes. Last night I talk to these people all day long, at 10:00 she hadn't called me. I called her and she started laughing and she said as I read it to her and she said John is looking down on us laughing his eyes out. He thinks this is so amusing. He just knows this isn't him. And then this morning she called me at 9:00 and she was crying. She said she went on the Internet last night and looked at this material and hadn't slept all night long because this is nothing about her John.

COOPER: Do you think an author has a certain responsibility when writing about someone who is not here to defend themselves.

LEAMER: Yes. because there are no liable laws. You can say whatever you want about anybody. And I think we as journalists aren't aware sometimes how hurtful we can be to people. You know, I think we have a responsibilities about that.

COOPER: All Right. Well, Larry Leamer, appreciate you joining us talking about this controversy no doubt. It's not the last time we'll be talking about. It appreciate you coming in.

LEAMER: Thanks for having me.


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