NBC's Kennedy Obsession: Today Gushes Over 'Striking' 50-Year-Old Photos of JFK

In the latest example of NBC's unhealthy obsession with the Kennedys, Monday's Today devoted a three-minute segment to promoting 54-year-old photos of JFK and Jackie vacationing on Cape Cod in 1961, with correspondent Sheinelle Jones proclaiming: "...what's so striking about these images is that they depict the first couple in a way many of us aren't accustomed to seeing – away from the confines of the White House, enjoying just another day at the beach."

Jones began the fawning report: "Camelot's first couple, President John F. Kennedy and wife Jackie, American icons to this day. Now we're getting a rarely seen glimpse of the couple in some never-before-seen photographs that are going up for auction." RR Auction House executive vice president Bobby Livingston could not contain his excitement: "I believe the Kennedys to America are the closest thing you have to a royal family. And here they are back stage. Incredible."

Sounding like an adoring fan, Jones observed: "It may seem that on this day the Kennedys don't have a care in the world, laughing and talking with their friends, and may not even know they're being photographed....Private and lighthearted moments. A rare behind-the-scenes look at one of the nation's most cherished couples."

The report ended on liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin wistfully noting: "And Jackie later said that what her husband wished he told her was that he had more simple good times, given all the tensions and the back pains and the troubles he had. So here's one of those simple good times and it's fun to see it."

Jones added: "Simple good times, I like that." She then shared her favorite image with the Today hosts: "There's a picture I like with – President Kennedy's in the water and his eyes are closed. You know that moment when you're just kind of free."

NBC has a long history of celebrating the Kennedys – even at the expense of actual news coverage. In October of 2014, Today aired a two-minute segment in the first hour of the show to JFK wedding photos while ignoring the midterm election just weeks away.

In 2013, the network touted Kennedy memorabilia from JFK aide Dave Powers going up for auction but failed to mention that the late President and Powers once shared a White House intern for sex.

Later that year, in a rare instance of NBC actually acknowledging Kennedy's affairs, Today featured a JFK biographer who argued there was a "medical reason" behind the President's infidelity.

Here is a full transcript of the February 16 segment:

8:20 AM ET

CARSON DALY: A series of photographs featuring President Kennedy and his wife Jackie are hitting the auction block this week. Today's Sheinelle Jones has a first look and the stories behind them. Sheinelle, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Camelot On Vacation; New Photos of JFK & Jackie Up for Auction]

SHEINELLE JONES: Good morning. There are forty-two photos in all and what's so striking about these images is that they depict the first couple in a way many of us aren't accustomed to seeing – away from the confines of the White House, enjoying just another day at the beach.

JOHN F. KENNEDY: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

JONES: Camelot's first couple, President John F. Kennedy and wife Jackie, American icons to this day. Now we're getting a rarely seen glimpse of the couple in some never-before-seen photographs that are going up for auction. These unpublished images were taken at the Cape Cod estate of heiress and Kennedy friend Bunny Melon and her husband Paul Melon during an August visit in 1961. Washington Post publisher Phil Graham was there, along with his wife Catherine, who took many of the pictures.

BOBBY LIVINGSTON: Melon estate, where they're visiting, is a massive house with maids and, you know, all kinds of servants and grounds keepers, but the Kennedys, the President, they decide to – they're going to go to the beach shack down by the water, no amenities. You know it's – you can see how casual it is.

JONES: Bobby Livingston is an executive vice president of RR Auction House.

LIVINGSTON: I believe the Kennedys to America are the closest thing you have to a royal family. And here they are back stage. Incredible.

JONES: JFK's sister Eunice Kennedy is also in attendance that day. Her bright smile seen as she sits perched behind her brother, who's in firm control of the boat with Jackie by their side. It may seem that on this day the Kennedys don't have a care in the world, laughing and talking with their friends, and may not even know they're being photographed. No sign here of JFK's painful and chronic back problems.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN: We're not seeing his back brace. JFK is just coming out of the ocean and you feel as if you are getting a glimpse of how they actually were.

JONES: You may be surprised to see the images of the dignified first lady, always so in control of her public image.

JACKIE KENNEDY: I think this house will always grow, and should.

JONES: And here seen smoking cigarettes in a bathing suit.

LIVINGSTON: Jackie Kennedy was so beautiful and had such great taste and fashion. But here, when you see her smoking, casual, legs crossed – not the Jackie you are used to seeing.

JONES: Private and lighthearted moments. A rare behind-the-scenes look at one of the nation's most cherished couples.

KEARNS GOODWIN: And Jackie later said that what her husband wished he told her was that he had more simple good times, given all the tensions and the back pains and the troubles he had. So here's one of those simple good times and it's fun to see it.

JONES: Simple good times, I like that. The auction takes place this Thursday. Bobby Livingston says he's not sure how much the collection of photographs will go for, but he's hoping it will be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

NATALIE MORALES: I'm guessing it will.

TAMRON HALL: That's incredible.

JONES: I think so, too.

MORALES: People love that.

JONES: There's a picture I like with – President Kennedy's in the water and his eyes are closed. You know that moment when you're just kind of free.

HALL: Bliss.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Alright, Sheinelle, thank you so much.

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