ABC's Claire Shipman Again Fawns Over Kennedys: 'Political Royalty'

Claire Shipman, ABC, On Monday, "Good Morning America" kicked off a week-long train tour Across America with a fawning look at the younger generation of the Kennedy family, a clan that reporter Claire Shipman gushed is "the closest thing we have in this country to political royalty."

The train journey, which is intended to see what Americans across the country really think about the upcoming presidential election, began in Massachusetts and featured Shipman rhapsodizing, "Baby boomers grew up watching them play football, sail off Hyannis Port, walk down the aisles swathed in glamour." (Of course, no mention was made of any of the various Kennedy family scandals.) Much of the segment featured the ABC journalist talking to fourth generation Kennedys. Over video of old footage of John F. Kennedy playing football off of Cape Cod, Shipman cooed to high school student Kerry Kennedy, "But one thing hasn't changed at all, games on the Cape just as cut throat as ever. Are there still big, gigantic get-togethers like that and is it still football?"

Just over two months ago, on June 5, Shipman filed another story in which she rhapsodized about the similarities between Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Barack Obama. After mentioning RFK's 1968 assassination, she indicated that an Obama election could be something similar to a "happy ending" for liberals: "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."

During that piece, Shipman also raved, "Even 40 years later, most Democrats can't utter the name 'Bobby' without a wistful, 'what if' sort of reverence." This may be true of Democrats, but since both the June 5 segment and the one on September 15 featured such a wistful tone, what does that say about the ideology of the reporters and producers at "Good Morning America?"

A transcript of the September 15 segment, which aired at 8:11am, follows:

ROBIN ROBERTS: I'm telling you, when you're here in the beautiful, great state of Massachusetts and you're talking politics, of course, the Kennedy family comes to mind. And there's a whole new generation of the Kennedys. What are they about to do? Are they about to embark on politics as well? Well, our Claire Shipman has that report.

CLAIRE SHIPMAN: They're the closest thing we have in this country to political royalty. Baby boomers grew up watching them play football, sail off Hyannis Port, walk down the aisles swathed in glamour. But, while Jack, Jackie, Bobby and then Ted, Caroline, Maria, became the household names, there's a new generation of Kennedys determined to make a mark. We caught a glimpse of some of them last month taking the stage at the Democratic National Convention and we wondered be about this Facebook /iPod generation of Kennedys. We found the notion of service still deep in the blood.

MAEVE TOWNSEND: To whom much is given, much is expected. I need to figure out how to take all of these things and give back.

SHIPMAN: Maeve Townsend, daughter of former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and granddaughter of Bobby Kennedy, says she and her sisters were raised on that notion. Maeve recently did a tour of duty in the Peace Corps, founded by her great uncle John. Now in law school, she's eager to make a difference and opens up with humor about the 21st century challenges for fourth-generation Kennedys.

MAEVE TOWNSEND: I come from a very wealthy powerful, family. But, it's a couple generations down. By the time you get to my generation, you're taking out your student loans just like everyone else.

SHIPMAN: Maeve's younger sister Kerry, a senior in high school, says she, too, wants to make a difference in the world, ideally in public health.

KERRY KENNEDY: I don't think we have any family doctors, have we?

KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND: Just one, but we haven't had a woman doctor.

KERRY KENNEDY: So, hopefully, I'll be starting a new path.

SHIPMAN: You can see that Kennedy drive is alive and well and not just among the women. Meet Kerry's twin cousins Joe and Matt Kennedy. Joe, now in his third year of Harvard Law, also recently served in the Peace Corps, Matt, who has an MBA from Harvard, is hard at work in the Obama campaign.

MATT KENNEDY: We're all just, you know, so proud of what everybody in our family has accomplished. And it's, you know, an incredible family to be a part of.

JOE KENNEDY: The real legacy from our family is public service can take on a variety of different forms. And my generation, I think, is getting older and coming of age. It's something that we're very excited to kind of pick up and run with.

SHIPMAN: And it was Caroline Kennedy's kids, JFK's only grandchildren, who got her so actively involved in this year's presidential campaign. Caroline arranged her first meeting with Obama after her eldest daughter Rose, fast becoming the spitting image of grandma Jackie got involved in Harvard and after middle daughter Tatiana read Obama's book. Which Kennedy might be the next to run for public office, to take on new philanthropic causes? It's hard telling, these young Kennedys told me. But one thing hasn't changed at all, games on the Cape just as cut throat as ever. Are there still big, gigantic get-togethers like that and is it still football?

KERRY KENNEDY: There's lots of games. It gets very, very competitive.

SHIPMAN: But still football?

KERRY KENNEDY: Still football. You end up with many bruises, many scratches, many scars-

MAEVE TOWNSEND: -and really funny stories.

ROBERTS: Our thanks to Claire Shipman for bringing that. And the Kennedy family so highly thought of here in Massachusetts.

Campaign Watch Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential ABC Good Morning America
Scott Whitlock's picture