During fawning reports on Thursday's NBC Nightly News and Friday's Today, the network's news personalities expressed thrill over the discovery of a collection of JFK memorabilia once owned by Kennedy aide Dave Powers, with anchor Brian Williams raving: "It's an intimate collection of time spent with the President of the United states and his family. It's the kind of memorabilia only a close friend would have. And it shows a man, our president, up close." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
What the coverage failed to mention was the recent shocking revelation by former White House intern and Kennedy mistress Mimi Alford that the late President once pressured her to perform oral sex on Powers during one their trysts. The omission was particularly surprising since Alford recalled the incident in an exclusive interview with Meredith Vieira aired on NBC's Rock Center in February of 2012.
On Friday's Today, correspondent Erica Hill followed Williams's lead as she proclaimed: "...an upcoming auction of hundreds of items that once belonged to the 35th president is creating major buzz. Simple moments forever frozen in time, like these photos from 1963, given to President Kennedy's best friend and special assistant, Dave Powers."
In the sound bite that followed, Dan Meader of John McInnis Auctions described the item: "This was given to Dave from Jackie Kennedy. This was given – it says, 'For Dave Powers, who gave the President so many of his happiest hours.'"
Speaking of one of those "happiest hours," here is a portion of Alford's exchange with Vieira:
JFK aide Powers was sitting poolside while Alford and Kennedy swam. Alford claims Kennedy whispered in her ear that Powers looked tense and asked her, "Would you take care of it."
Alford writes in her book, "I knew exactly what he meant. Take care of it. That was a challenge to give Dave Powers oral sex. I don't think the President thought I'd do it, but I'm ashamed to say that I did."
An emotional Alford told Vieira that the incident still makes her sad and angry.
"It makes me angry because I didn't just splash water in the President's face and tell him to get lost," Alford said. "It makes me sad because I did it."
On Nightly News, not only was that shameful event ignored, but Williams invited left-wing MSNBC host Chris Matthews to praise Kennedy: "Kennedy biographer Chris Matthews says he understands the attraction of it all." Matthews swooned: "There's a tremendous demand out there of people of my generation for some way of connecting to this lost president. We lost him, in the prime of his life. And a lot of people want to find any way they can to bring him back."
Following the Alford interview on Rock Center, Matthews and other Kennedy fans were brought on to defend the Democratic president. At that time, Matthews uttered: "The greatest heroes are often the most flawed...And so with it all, the total picture still arouses the country."
After Hill's report on Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie excitedly informed viewers: "We're going to have some of those rare items, including JFK's bomber jacket, here in the studio, Monday on Today. Look forward to showing you that."
Here is a full transcript of Williams's January 24 report:
7:00PM ET TEASE:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Hidden treasures. An amazing collection from the life of John F. Kennedy, locked away by one of the President's closest confidante's until now.
7:26PM ET SEGMENT:
WILLIAMS: Finally tonight, a new trove of JFK memorabilia collected for years and kept hidden from public view has suddenly surfaced. And tonight, before it gets auctioned off, we get to take a rare inside look at Camelot.
It's an intimate collection of time spent with the President of the United states and his family. It's the kind of memorabilia only a close friend would have. And it shows a man, our president, up close.
JOHN KENNEDY: We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom.
DAVE POWERS: As I think back, he was the only president for two years and ten months and two days.
WILLIAMS: The material belonged to Dave Powers, widely considered JFK's best friend. Dave Powers was both the keeper of the Kennedy flame and the President's secrets. Powers was the curator of the Kennedy Library. Now it turns out he kept his own private collection at home. All of this was just discovered 15 years after his death.
DAN MEADER [JOHN MCINNIS AUCTIONEERS]: When you look at the items, some specific things, they will just bring goosebumps to you. I mean it's just really mind blowing.
WILLIAMS: Chief among the items, the Commander-in-Chief's Air Force One bomber jacket. The presidential seal. A letter from Rose Kennedy, warning her son about eating the local food during an upcoming trip to Mexico. The pen the President used to sign a key document during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And a now achingly sad birthday card from his 2-year-old son, John, who, of course, is now also gone.
You'd be forgiven for wondering whether it seems right for this stuff to be in private hands, in some rich person's house, rather than in a museum for all to see. The Powers family, for their part, says the Kennedy Library is fine with it, and they've passed on all of it. But still, Kennedy biographer Chris Matthews says he understands the attraction of it all.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: There's a tremendous demand out there of people of my generation for some way of connecting to this lost president. We lost him, in the prime of his life. And a lot of people want to find any way they can to bring him back.
WILLIAMS: And so, to the highest bidder will go items like Dave Powers' own bound copy of the presidential inauguration speeches, a gift from Kennedy's widow inscribed and signed, "You and I will miss him most, Jackie."
DAVE POWERS: He was the greatest man I ever met and the best friend I ever had.
WILLIAMS: The auction of the Dave Powers collection will be held next month.