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Local Kennedy Archivist Explains Media, Government Focus on Crash

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RALEIGH — The search for John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane has been extensive, and some have questioned whether the case received special treatment by the government and the media. A local Kennedy expert explains the attention.

"It's a response not just to the Bessettes and not just to John Jr.," says Kermit Hall. "It's a response to the continuing memory of the president."

Hall just finished serving on theJFK Assassination Records Review Board. He says the massive recovery effort is necessary to determine the cause of the accident and to rule out foul play.

"There's an enormous possibility of it feeding into the larger themes of conspiracy in American life," Hall says. Some conspiracy theorists will no doubt believe "that somehow or another someone wanted yet another Kennedy removed," he says. Physical data will provide the best evidence to dispel such theories.

Hall says interest in the crash probably means there will be an unfortunate repeat of what happened with debris from the downed TWA Flight 800.

"Bits and pieces ... end up in the hands of collectors and then they end up on the market and it's really a kind of a gruesome market," Hall says.

President Clinton authorized the extensive recovery mission and completely supports it. "Because of the role of the Kennedy family in our national lives, and because of the enormous losses that they have sustained in our lifetimes, I thought it was appropriate to give them a few more days," says Clinton.

Hall says John F. Kennedy's assassination was an epic moment in American history and people are still not over it. He believes JFK Jr.'s crash is a reminder for many of that moment in history.