Jacqueline Kennedy is heard anew in Diane Sawyer’s ABC spe­cial

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Diane Sawyer hosts “Jacqueline Kennedy, in Her Own Words” airs at 9 p.m. Tues­day on Chan­nel 4. The two-hour pro­gram of­fers ex­cerpts from seven in­ter­views the former first lady taped with jour­nal­ist Arthur M. Sch­lesinger Jr. early in 1964, un­der the con­di­tion they not be made pub­lic un­til af­ter her death. Then re­cently wid­owed, Mrs. Kennedy re­flected on such events of her Demo­crat hus­band’s pres­i­dency as the Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis, as well as her times with him out of pub­lic view. Caro­line Kennedy, who wrote the fore­word to a re­lated book and calls her role in the re­lease of her mother’s tapes “a great priv­i­lege” in a state­ment, is in­ter­viewed by Sawyer dur­ing the spe­cial.

In a re­cent con­ver­sa­tion, one- time Repub­li­can po­lit­i­cal aide Sawyer dis­cussed her im­pres­sions of the record­ings and the im­pact of be­ing among the first to hear them.

Q: What was it like for you when you ac­tu­ally first heard her voice on the tapes?

A: It was stun­ning. We’d heard her voice on tele­vi­sion, but this was the ex­pe­ri­ence of sit­ting in a quiet cor­ner of a room and eaves­drop­ping, and be­ing able to trans­port your­self into those dra­matic events in his­tory.

You could be the Zelig who got to hear what was re­ally go­ing on, what was re­ally be­ing said in those pic­tures we’ve looked at a thou­sand times. And sud­denly, to know the true thoughts of the per­son in the pic­ture.

Q: How was your own con­tact with Mrs. Kennedy?

A: I didn’t meet her un­til I came to New York, and I think that so much of who she was is present on these tapes — funny, ir­rev­er­ent, in­cred­i­bly in­tu­itive and wildly in­tel­li­gent. She read every­thing, and she had been a real stu­dent of his­tory.

She read about French his­tory, Rus­sian his­tory and all the ways power and per­son­al­ity in­ter­sected over the years. And you can see how all of that comes to bear when she ar­rives at the White House.

Page 19 TV Crossword an­swer: Christo­pher Meloni

Diane Sawyer

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