The Kennedy name has been entwined with American politics for generations. Is America's "royal" family also responsible for creating today's fascination with political scandals? Mark Feldstein, a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, points out that John F. Kennedy's won the 1960 presidential election with the help of some "dirty tricks" similar to those used by Kennedy's opponent years later at the Watergate.
In today's Washington Post, Feldstein describes the how Kennedy's camp illegally collected evidence that Richard Nixon had personally accepted money from a corporate billionaire, and then promptly delivered that information to prominent liberal columnists in the week before the election. The revelation, which quickly spread nation-wide, was credited for Kennedy's win. Furthermore, Feldstein suggests:
... the mysterious break-in to recover Nixon's incriminating financial documents convinced him that such burglaries were standard practice in national politics. Nixon vowed that he would never be caught unprepared again, and he ultimately established his own corps of hard-nosed operatives to carry out espionage and sabotage, which culminated in the botched break-in a dozen years later at the Watergate office of the Democratic Party.
Feldstein concludes that it was, in fact, the Kennedy’s sketchy election tactics that "helped unleash our modern scandal culture and continues to influence politics and media today."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.