Good Morning America on Monday touted an adulterous affair John F. Kennedy had in the early 1950s as a "love story" and a "torrid and fleeting romance." Co-host George Stephanopoulos lauded the Kennedys as "American royalty" and the show offered no hint of criticism over the infidelity. [Audio available here.]
"Love letters" revealing the relationship between an engaged and then just-married Kennedy and a Swedish woman are being put on auction this week. The correspondence between the two show that JFK was cheating on his wife from the very start. Yet, Stephanopoulos delicately spun, "They've been called a window into the complicated and conflicted existence that was Kennedy's life."
Reporter Chris Bury narrated one of the letters from Kennedy to his Swedish mistress, Gunilla Von Post, asserting that the then-Senator "senses that their destinies are drifting apart." He quoted, "I just got word that my wife and sister are coming here. It will be all be complicated, the way I feel now, my Swedish flicka. All I have done is sit in the sun and look at the ocean and think of Gunilla. All love, Jack."
In total, Bury and Stephanopoulos referred to the "love letters" or "love story" three times, offering no judgment on Kennedy's adultery. However, this shouldn't be surprising, as Good Morning America has repeatedly fawned over the Kennedy family.
On June 5 2008, Claire Shipman lovingly compared Barack Obama to Robert Kennedy. She noted the "similarities" and then declared, "The search to shift that mantle, futile of course. But also a quintessentially American desire for, if not a happy ending, some sense of completion."
On July 16, 2009, Shipman mourned the tenth anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy Jr., the "prince of Camelot," and hyperbolically suggested his "very existence had somehow come to represent a critical link to our fairy tale past. And always, always the possibility of another chapter."
A transcript of the February 15 segment, which aired at 8:11am EST, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Also ahead this morning, John F. Kennedy's secret love letters. They were written to a mysterious Swedish woman in the early days of his marriage to Jacqueline Kennedy. We're going to take a first look at these letters.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Huh.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And this is really a remarkable and revealing story. You actually learn that President Kennedy talked to his dad about divorcing Jackie Kennedy to marry this woman.
ROBERTS: You find that our through the letters?
ROBERTS: All right, that's ahead.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, we have a story about the family that's been called American royalty, the secret love letters that have been kept under lock and key since they were first sent. Today, for the first time, John F. Kennedy's letters to a Swedish woman are going up for auction. They've been called a window into the complicated and conflicted existence that was Kennedy's life. Here's Chris Bury.
CHRIS BURY: He was the dashing and ambitious senator, 36 and already engaged. She, a beautiful blue-blooded Swede, only 21. They met on the French Riviera in the summer of 1953, danced all night and parted with a passionate kiss. So began a secret romance, documented in these 14 letters and telegrams from John F. Kennedy to Gunilla Von Post. They have never been seen in public before.
JOHN REZNIKOFF (President, University Archives): It's a real sensitive and tender love affair that you could really understand through the correspondence.
BURY: Now, 78-years-old, Gunilla Von Post first revealed the affair in a 1997 book and in this interview on ABC's 20/20.
VON POST: His smile was, absolutely, what you say, contagious. It was really electrical between us.
BURY: Only three weeks after those sparks flew in France, Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport, Rhode Island. But, the very next spring and summer, he wrote Gunilla to rekindle their flame. "I thought I might get a boat and sail around the Mediterranean for two weeks with you as crew.
VON POST: My heart, boom, boom, boom. I was very happy to hear from him, but I said, he's a married man.
BURY: That summer, their plans for a secret rendezvous fell apart when JFK badly injured his back. After two months in the hospital and surgery that nearly killed him, he still pursued her. "Under that beautiful controlled face that still haunts me, beats a warm heart." Another year goes by before they finally reunite, slipping away to this old castle in Sweden.
VON POST: I borrowed him for a week, a beautiful week that no one can take away from me with that.
BURY: She kept Kennedy's letters locked up until now. Today, they will be offered to the public on LegendaryAuctions.com Online bidding for the Kennedy notes begins at $25,000. They will be auctioned off as a collection to preserve the love story and enhance the value. In JFK's final letter to Von Post, writing from the Riviera, he senses that their destinies are drifting apart. "I just got word that my wife and sister are coming here. It will be all be complicated, the way I feel now, my Swedish flicka. All I have done is sit in the sun and look at the ocean and think of Gunilla. All love, Jack."
REZNIKOFF: I think the correspondence is seeping with regret on both sides that these two people wanted to be with each other and it just wasn't to be.
BURY: So, exactly two years after it began, the torrid and fleeting romance came to its bittersweet end. For Good Morning America, I'm Chris Bury, ABC News, Lansing, Illinois.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What a story. They actually met many years later when John F. Kennedy was President. He saw her at a dinner, walked up to her and simply said, "I love you." You can read more of JFK's secret love letters on our website. Go to ABCNews.com and click on GMA.