The Kennedy Name
The Kennedy name is one of the most iconic and storied family names in all of American history. Just hearing the name stirs up images of patriotism, unrivaled leadership in the face of global crisis, and compassion for all American citizens across the socioeconomic divide.
Just as quickly, though, thoughts of the Kennedy name can turn to the more tragic and darker side of the family as well. Unparalleled suffering from the loss of young lives, rumors of womanizing and excessive alcohol consumption, and of course two assassinations, both within a decades time, that forever changed the soul of America.
Tragedy, death, and correlating conspiracy theories are not just relegated to the JFK assassination for the Kennedy clan. On July 18th, 1969 in Chappaquiddick, a tiny Massachusetts island, Ted Kennedy’s car plunged off a bridge and into the water in the pitch black dark of the middle of the night. Inside the car, a young woman named Mary Jo Kopechne met her untimely passing as she drowned inside the vehicle that fateful night.
At one time being the heir apparent to the presidency, this shocking situation upended Ted Kennedy’s political aspirations and caused many within the nation to start taking second looks at how they viewed the once pristine Kennedy name.
The facts that Ted Kennedy’s car plunged into the water and that Mary Jo Kopechne drowned are two of the very few facts that are known and agreed upon surrounding that entire ordeal. Just about anything else is left wide open to conjecture and theorizing.
Why did Ted Kennedy turn away from the paved route to the ferry and instead go down that dark and unpaved road towards the area of the bridge like he did? Why was there a second woman’s purse in the vehicle? Why in God’s name did Kennedy wait 10 hours to report the accident? Was Ted Kennedy even in the vehicle that night?
People's First Podcast Show
All of these questions and more are asked on the ambitious new podcast offering titled Cover-Up, which is the very first foray into the podcasting medium by People magazine in partnership with Cadence 13. Those expecting a glossy, pop-culture puff piece will surely be surprised by the hard-hitting and credibly researched show that People Magazine produced in Cover-Up.
There is no deference extended to the Kennedy name here. Anything and everything surrounding that regretful evening are open for investigation.
Tried And True Investigative Journalism
Cover-Up is hosted by Elizabeth McNeil, who has 25 years as a journalist at People Magazine. Liz, as she refers to herself on the podcast, spent an entire year researching for this podcast series and has conducted over 50 interviews. Her curiosity of this evening in Chappaquiddick is equally matched by the thoroughness of her investigative approach.
One of the major challenges McNeil faces is not reluctance of people willing to talk or lack of resources, it is the unstoppable force of time. This tragic event took place nearly 50 years ago and some of the central and peripheral figures have since passed away. Interviews are now being completed with the surviving children of people connected to the tragedy, playing out like a dark and murky game of whisper down the lane.
This quandary of battling the passing of time just further proves the validity and urgency of the mission that McNeil and People Magazine are undertaking with Cover-Up.
Honoring A Life
Along with uncovering the truth, Cover-Up plainly states another core component of their mission with this show is to honor the life of Mary Jo Kopechne, a young woman whose death and life seems to have been overshadowed by the swirling chaos of conspiracy and scandal in the subsequent days, months, and decades after that dark summer night in July of 1969.
With just a few episodes published, you can easily binge listen and get caught up to date with Cover-Up. I am captivated by this story that has loomed over the Kennedy name for decades and I am fascinated to see where Liz McNeil’s investigation takes her along with us the listener.
To her credit, she is pushing the issue, perhaps further than most have been willing to go up till this point. I do not know if time has allowed for enough people connected to the truth to remain to provide for ultimate answers, but it will be compelling and entertaining to listen along the way.
What do you suspect actually happened in Chappaquiddick that fateful summer night? What are your impressions of the very first podcast offering from People magazine?