J. Edgar Hoover had his FBI eye on Runnin’ Scared in 1969, just-released Teddy Kennedy files reveal. In fact, he called us liars, the greatest blurb quote we’ve ever garnered.
Bill Bastone, once of the Voice and now of The Smoking Gun, sent us some of the thousands of documents just released by the FBI to his site and others that filed freedom of information requests after Kennedy’s 2009 death. Having once contributed to Runnin’ himself, Bastone swelled with pride when he read a marginal note in the file that is signed simply “H” and appears to have been written by the legendary G-man.
Runnin’ broke the story that Hoover, whose wars with onetime Attorney General Bobby Kennedy were legendary, had “quietly assigned several agents to Martha’s Vineyard in an effort to come up with information on Teddy Kennedy” after the infamous drowning of a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, in his car. The Runnin’ item, a product no doubt of then-Voice star Jack Newfield‘s close ties to the Kennedy family, concluded: “Kennedy’s people are furious about this and view it as a continuation of Hoover’s vendetta against all the Kennedys.”
The Runnin’ clip appears in the file with the inscription beside it: “It is a lie. H.”
The clip was sent to the agency by a source then associated with the Hearst Corporation whose name is whited out in the disclosed FBI file. An FBI executive, T.E. Bishop, was charged with looking into the origins of this story after UPI and a Virginia radio station picked it up and repeated it. “The Director has requested,” as one memo put it, “that Bishop nail this lie.” The Hearst source noted when he sent the clip to Hoover’s deputy, Cartha “Deke” DeLoach: “Didn’t know whether you ‘monitor’ the Village Voice. So here it is.”
Another FBI memo says the Voice is “the well-known ‘hippy newspaper'” of Greenwich Village, New York City.
Bishop calls the radio station and UPI, but not the Voice, and notes in a subsequent memo that “immediate steps” were taken by both “to kill” this story. It’s unclear from the fuller FBI file if Runnin’ got it right or not. The file is filled with letters from people across the country offering varying theories of Kennedy’s complicity in Kopechne’s death, including one from someone present at the party that preceded the drowning, and Hoover’s standard response was that there appeared to be no violation of federal law and that he wasn’t investigating it. If he did “quietly” dispatch some agents there, though, it would never have made the file.