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Center for Politics Reveals Trailer for New John F. Kennedy Documentary

A trailer for the University of Virginia Center for Politics’ forthcoming documentary, This Is The House That Jack Built, is now available. The documentary is the latest collaboration between the Center for Politics and Community Idea Stations, which regularly partner to produce documentary films for public television on American politics and history.

This Is The House That Jack Built touches on familiar themes of JFK’s life and his ascent to the presidency, his mistakes, and his triumphs. But the film also explores new and little-known stories, some that surfaced after the Center for Politics’ Kennedy Half Century project in 2013, which included Center for Politics Director Larry J. Sabato’s New York Times-bestselling book, an Emmy Award-winning documentary, and an Emmy Award-nominated Massive Open Online Course.

These new stories include a CIA staffer and her discovery of a file on Lee Harvey Oswald that soon thereafter went missing; the sonic analysis of the infamous dictabelt recording from the day of Kennedy’s assassination; and the Warren Commission’s pressure on 19-year-old Buell Wesley Frazier, who drove Oswald to work on Nov. 22, 1963. This program also explores why JFK is still relevant and why he so interests the public even 100 years after his birth and more than half a century after his assassination scarred the nation.

Sabato hosts the documentary, and others lending their voice to the program include presidential historian Robert Dallek, authors John Shaw and David Pitts, Kennedy staffers Nancy Dutton and Sue Vogelsinger, civil rights expert Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Buell Wesley Frazier, and others. Paul Tait Roberts directs the documentary.

This is the latest documentary from the Center for Politics and Community Idea Stations, a partnership that has produced three Emmy Award-winning documentaries over the past several years. Just last month, the documentary Feeling Good About America: The 1976 Presidential Election won an Emmy Award for Best Historical Documentary from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Additionally, the Center won Best Topical Documentary for Out of Order: Civility in Politics, which explores gridlock and hyper-partisanship in Congress, in 2013. The following year, the Center won Best Historical Documentary for the aforementioned documentary, The Kennedy Half Century.

This Is The House That Jack Built will be released nationwide this fall.

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In a Washington Post column on Tuesday, Sabato and Philip Shenon, author of A Cruel and Shocking Act: The Secret History of the Kennedy Assassination, called for President Donald Trump to allow the final release of the remaining secret government files regarding the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The 1992 Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act set a 25-year deadline for the publication of the documents, which comes due in October 2017. Some files have already been released by the National Archives.

However, the 1992 law allows the president to stop the release of the JFK files if he deems them a risk to national security. And it appears that some governmental agencies will attempt to pressure President Trump into halting the final release. Sabato and Shenon argue that it is vital that the president not stand in the way of full governmental transparency regarding what happened to President Kennedy in 1963. It is an opportunity to combat long-standing conspiracy theories by giving the public a full accounting of the assassination of an American president.

You can read the column here.