Howie Carr, here. I'm a Boston-based journalist, best-selling author and talk radio Hall of Famer. My new book is Kennedy Babylon: A Century of Scandal and Depravity.

I've tangled with the Kennedys for decades. In 1988, then-Sen. Ted Kennedy became so enraged that I nicknamed him "Fat Boy" in my Boston Herald column that he tried to force Rupert Murdoch to sell the paper! My book busts many myths about the Kennedy family and exposes the sordid truth -- from gangster ties to Marilyn Monroe to Chappaquiddick, I cover it all.

You can read excerpts of my book here and here. And you can check out the podcast I did yesterday with WEEI sports talker Kirk Minihane here

My previous best-sellers include The Brothers Bulger, a review of James J. "Whitey" Bulger's reign of terror in Boston, and Hitman, which I wrote with Whitey's hitman, Johnny Martorano. You can check out the AMA I did last year about Boston organized crime here.

You can follow me on Twitter here and get a copy of Kennedy Babylon here.


EDIT: I've got to take a break to do my radio show. But keep the questions coming! I'll be back here tonight to answer questions around 7:30 p.m. EST. Thanks!

EDIT2: I'm back!

Comments: 160 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

bmitrano82520 karma

Hey Howie,

Big fan. Couple questions.

  1. What would you say was the defining moment of your career?

  2. Did you ever consider quitting out of fear for yourself and family when Whitey tried to kill you?

  3. How great is the Kowloon?

HowieCarr16 karma

First, the Kowloon (Rte. 1 north, Saugus) is the absolute best.

Quitting because of Whitey? When a guy like that threatens to kill you, it's too late to quit. You have to ride it out. You can't run, it's like showing fear to a mad dog. The best you can do is take precautions (assuming you can't go to the cops, which you really couldn't in MA in the late 80's. It wasn't that they were all corrupt, it's just that it would have gotten back to Whitey that you were scared, and that would be the end of any control I had of the situation).

The defining moment of my career: probably getting my column in the Boston Herald, or getting it back after getting fired by Ch. 7. I grew up wanting a column in a big-city newspaper, preferably Boston. I knew it was my great opportunity to make something of myself.

bmitrano8252 karma

Thank you for the answer! Definitely going to pick up the book. Which of your books are your favorite?

HowieCarr14 karma

Obviously, Kennedy Babylon, because that's the newest one. But Brothers Bulger and Hitman are both pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. Killers is pretty good if you want a novel about Boston hoodlums. Or at least I think it is. Hope you like the book.

Finneranfan17 karma

Gee, Howie, how do you justify a book excoriating the Kennedy's for their bad behavior while rumpswabbing the behind of a man who admits to sexual assault like Trump?

strichnyne3 karma

Good point Howie!

HowieCarr0 karma

Sexual assaults? Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment. Or Pam Kelley. Or the babysitter in Cohasset. Or the single mom in Jupiter. Or Pamela Harriman. Or Marilyn Monroe....

HowieCarr-8 karma

Ah, the trolls are out early. What has Trump ever done that comes close to, oh I don't know, drowning Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick, or Joe Kennedy II crippling Pam Kelly on Nantucket, or Michael Kennedy raping his underage babysitter, or Michael Kennedy Smith's record of abusing women, or RFK doing whatever he did with Marilyn Monroe on the last day of her life, or RFK Jr.'s total sleazebag lifestyle (as detailed in his diary by the NY Post)... Shall I continue?

Finneranfan2 karma

Was Joe ever arrested at a Klan rally? Did RFK denigrate the service of veterans while lying about bone spurs to dodge the draft? Is there as much documented history of blatant racism by the Kennedys as there is for your racist master? And again, how many tapes of the Kennedys admitting to a fondness for sexual assault like Trump's exist? And how many murderers of women and children do the Kennedys currently have on their payroll like you do?

HowieCarr8 karma

BTW, for those of you who aren't from Massachusetts, "finneranfan" refers to a convicted felon former House speaker here, Thomas "Felon" Finneran, the second of three MA House speakers in a row convicted of felonies. Finneran perjured himself under oath in front of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals about a racist redistricting plan he engineered to "crack" the minority neighborhoods of Boston to protect his fellow corrupt white hacks. As for racism, in the 1960's, when the Kennedy mansion in Palm Beach, Comfortably Numb by the Sea as I call it, was the Winter White House, black people were forbidden UNDER LAW from buying real estate on the island. JFK used to say that he would punish enemies by making them an ambassador to some "boogie republic" in Africa. RFK signed off on Hoover's wiretaps of Martin Luther King Jr. The first time old man Joe met Peter Lawford was at a parking lot in Palm Beach. Lawford was playing cards with a couple of black car parkers. Joe told the owner of the lot it didn't look good for a white boy to be hanging with a couple of n-words. I could go on with this all day....

EarlThePearl3917 karma

Obvious question here: Who really killed JFK?

HowieCarr26 karma

Good place to start. I don't know for sure, I don't think anybody does, but I think the evidence would point towards organized crime. The fact that FBI wiretaps picked up much talk about a hit on JFK by, among others, Carlos Marcello of New Orleans and Santo Trafficante of Tampa, is one indicator. Lee Harvey Oswald's uncle was in Marcello's organization. Jack Ruby, Oswald's killer, was a minor figure in the Chicago Outfit, and Sam Momo Giancana was absolutely livid about RFK's harrassment of him and others in the Mob. When the Congress began investigating all this in the mid-70's, Momo was shot to death in the suburbs of Chicago and his top CIA-Kennedy-Judith Campbell liaison ended up in an oil drum in Biscayne Bay. Other suspects: Castro. He told US reporters in Sept 63 that if the Kennedys wanted to kill him, 2 could play at that game. Maybe the CIA: they were still pissed about the Bay of Pigs. On Nov. 22, RFK directly asked John McCone of the CIA, did your people kill my brother? I'll be dealing with more of these conspiracy theories in Vol. 2 of the series.

--MyRedditUsername--6 karma

Have you read James Ellroy's Underwold USA series (American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand, and Blood's a Rover) dealing with a fictionalized version of the assassination and other related events? If so, any thoughts on them?

HowieCarr9 karma

I love those books and highly recommend them. James Ellroy is a genius, and a friend of mine but even if he wasn't I would love those novels. Maybe he doesn't have all the details totally nailed down, but I think he perfectly captures the way the demi-world of the Kennedys, the CIA and the Mob operated back in those day

LoveandRockets2 karma

I just read American Tabloid and that really changed my mind. There was so much stuff going on back then with the Kennedys, the Mafia, the unions, Cuba, the CIA, the FBI and there were a bunch of fanatical, really-bad-people involved in everything. I don't see how it couldn't have been a conspiracy.

HowieCarr2 karma

If you watch the Zapruder film carefully, you'll see the final fatal shot comes from the front of the limo, and by then the Texas School Book Depository, where Oswald was (probably) firing from is behind the car. There had to be multiple shooters. JFK's closest aides, Dave Powers and Kenny O'Donnell, were in the car behind and both testified as to what happened, until LBJ asked them to change their testimony. When the Warren Commission finished their report, the only one who refused to sign it was Sen. Richard Russell of GA, LBJ's older pal whom the president had knuckled to go on the Commission. According to the White House tapes from the Oval Office, Russell said, "I don't believe it," and LBJ replied, "I don't either." If they didn't believe the lone gunman-magic bullet theory, why should you or I?

Synisive16 karma

I am truly amazed by the amount of corruption and lawlessness you have helped expose in Massachusetts. How do you think it compares with Chicago or Louisiana or other areas of the US?

HowieCarr25 karma

All the places you mentioned have their civic pride. We all like to brag that we're number one in terms of corruption. But I have to think that MA is right up with Chi, LA, Albany NY, Baltimore, Philadelphia. I think a lot of it has to do with one-party rule, although the GOP senate leader in Albany has also gone down recently. Boston City Hall has always been corrupt, but the State House in MA wasn't quite as bad when the Republicans had close to parity in the legislature. One-party rule always leads to corruption. Always.

MyJourneyThroughHell10 karma

What are your thoughts on the murder of Martha Moxley? Do you think Michael Skakel really killed her or Kenneth Littleton?

HowieCarr18 karma

I think Skakel did it. I know it's not unheard of for people to brag about murders they didn't commit (it happened a few times in the Boston underworld that I'm aware of). But I think that in Skakel's context, when he's in a rehab facility, like a 12-step program, and he's bragging... I just think he's the killer. So do the CT courts apparently.

Stewpid10 karma

Howie, have you written anything about Boston Globe owner John Henry recently purchasing a 150 million dollar yacht Iroquois and mooring it in the Cayman Islands and not Massachusetts in order avoid paying excise and sales taxes?

HowieCarr8 karma

I'll check it out. Who does he think he is, John Kerry? But you have to remember, the Globe now prints the Herald. I can't promise you a story.

Sumidiotdude9 karma

Of all the movies about the assassination what do you think are the best ones? JFK is an obvious choice and I wasn't a big fan of Parkland but i'd love to hear your input.

HowieCarr15 karma

I'd have to go with JFK. I thought it was a great movie until the moment Donald Sutherland arrives, like the proverbial deus ex machina, and starts spewing his conspiracy theories. One thing I would love to see isn't a movie, but a documentary -- the 27 minutes ABC News did on the last days of Marilyn Monroe. They had amazing interviews with the ex-police chief of LA, ex-mayor Sam Yorty, Marilyn's maid, etc. It was killed and they fired Geraldo Rivera, which forced him to go to work opening Al Capone's vaults....

sandyfan228 karma

Howie, I wonder why your columns and radio show always seem to feature crimes committed by Latino offenders. Why do you never feature crimes committed by Russian and Irish illegal immigrants, thousands of which are in the Brighton area alone?

HowieCarr12 karma

Read my column today in the Boston Herald. When was the last time a Russian or Irish illegal alien raped a 2-year-old (Long Island) or a 3-year-old (Stamford CT) or a 14-year-old HS freshman (Rockville MD) or an 18-year-old with the mind of a 4-year-old (Nantucket). And that's just this week's roundup... so far.

sandyfan228 karma

Howie, did any of the Kennedys have this to say about convicted child molesters? "And yet if you talk to Donald Trump, a different Epstein emerges. "I've known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy,'' Trump booms from a speakerphone. "He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it -- Jeffrey enjoys his social life." Any comment?

HowieCarr-2 karma

Another troll. You may have read this week, but probably didn't, since it wasn't in any of your fake-news outlets, that Trump banned Epstein from Mar-a-Lago after he allegedly attacked a young girl there. In that same story, it took the crack scribe until the 19th paragraph to mention Bill Clinton's much, much closer relationship to Jeffrey Epstein.

suaveitguy7 karma

What do you make of Sinatra's relationship with the Kennedys?

HowieCarr21 karma

George Jacobs, Sinatra's valet, summed it up best in his book, Mr. S. He said JFK controlled what Sinatra wanted most, which was political power, and Sinatra controlled what JFK wanted most, which was pussy.

tomfbaxter6 karma

Do you think the next generation of Kennedys will achieve the level of success of JFK/RFK/EMK?

HowieCarr2 karma

No, those days are over. Joe III, now my Congressman, is not a bad guy, as I've said elsewhere on this AMA. I think basically the Kennedy has just about been bred out of him. But really, he's a straight white male. What possible future can he have in the modern Democrat party? I mean that, seriously.

dkh6 karma

Why did they have so much adoration? Lots of politico's have their fanboys but they were off the charts.

HowieCarr13 karma

The old man, Joe Kennedy, started cultivating the press at a very early point. He used to tell his kids, it's not what you are, it's what people think you are. JFK presented himself as a sort of fellow journalist, he wrote (or had written) books, he was like a lot of that DC press corps a WW2 vet, they were all attractive. They weren't even that liberal, at least not at the beginning. See the story this week about JFK's diary that's now on sale about his admiration, up to a point, for the Nazis. (And his father and brother Joe liked them even more). Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, RFK's oldest child, had Sen. Joe McCarthy as her godfather. But all this was overlooked. Joe Sr. used to flat-out buy the scribes off, with ties, cash, women, even a car (offered to Arthur Krock of the NYT, the ghostwriter of Why England Slept, JFK's first book). Krock had to turn it down. Now I think it's more than the "journalists" and the Kennedys all march in PC lockstep.

silvergun_superman5 karma

Is it true that JFK was a prolific amphetamine user?

HowieCarr8 karma

Absolutely. He had his own guy, "Dr. Feelgood," who provided him and Jackie (and a host of other celebs) with hot shots. He was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany and Bobby of course hated him because of that. One time he was down at the White House shooting up JFK and RFK saw him and unleashed an anti-Semitic screed at him. Dr. Feelgood prompty cut off JFK, who had to fly to NY to get a fix. Dr. Feelgood gave him a big shot and JFK went nuts, ripped off all his clothes and ran down the hall of the Carlyle Hotel naked. The Secret Service had to tackle him. This is all in my chapter, "Beauties in the White House," source Dr. Feelgood's 2013 bio. The famous story is, RFK stole a vial of his stuff (after he'd taught JFK to inject himself) and had it analyzed by Herbert Anslinger at the Bureau of Dangerous Drugs (or some such name) because of course Hoover couldn't know about it. The analysis came back how horrible it was, and when RFK showed it to his brother, JFK shrugged and said, "I don't care if it's horse piss, it makes me feel better!" When Jackie was dying at the early age of 65, JFK Jr. blamed her cancer on all the shots Dr. Feelgood had given her.

BillWeld5 karma

I still miss what's her name, the intern who did the "You chump!" line. What was her name?

HowieCarr11 karma

Trish, the Vassar girl. She lives in Wellesley now, same town as me. She is a great person, one of the most amiable people I have ever met. And if she called the post office "the stamp store," well, it made for funny radio.

iknowthefuture204 karma

Do you feel a need to diminish the Kennedy name or is it something else?

HowieCarr6 karma

They don't need any help from me in "diminishing" the Kennedy name. I just like to think that in addition to all those slobbering hagiographies about them out there, there are at least a few volumes giving what Paul Harvey used to call the rest of the story.

CravenCorpus4 karma

Hey Howie huge fan, my dad and I listen to your show everyday on the way to school. I just gotta ask.

You coming back to Maine soon?

HowieCarr7 karma

Check out my website,, click on kennedy babylon. I'm having Kennedy Babylon shows, April 21, Friday in Bangor and June 16, Friday, at the Landing in Scarborough. Will also be doing at least one signing at a Market Basket, in Biddeford I think, in June. I will also be at Ken's Place in Scarborough on Father's Day. Thanks for asking!

edwardmoorekennedu4 karma

Era, what's your favorite kind of waitress sandwich?

HowieCarr2 karma

Er, um, uh, that would be a sandwich with a waitress between Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd, who ironically was the son of ex-Sen. Tom Dodd, a corrupt ex-FBI agent turned senator from CT who HATED Jack Kennedy. On the day of his funeral, Dodd was drunk in his Senate office, complaining that all his favorite daytime shows were preempted for the funeral. When he was censured by the Senate for corruption in '67, both Teddy and Bobby voted yes for the censure. Chris Dodd's whole career was about rehabbing the family name, but he was as big a disgrace as his old man. He was a grad of Providence College which of course is where Teddy's son Patches later went. Like his dad and Uncle Chris Dodd, Patches was known to take a drink under extreme social pressure.

Stewpid3 karma

A friend of mine's father was a cop in Hyannis, MA in the 60's. He told a story of a one car accident on Cape Cod involving Ted Kennedy.

He stated that after the accident, the cops followed a trail of oil and radiator fluid to the Kennedy estate. Somehow the cops knew the car in the accident belonged to Ted or was driven by Ted (witnesses or a license plate was found at the scene).

As the cops tried to enter the Kennedy estate, Joe Kennedy came down the driveway and forbade the cops from entering. The cops called their Sargent who told them to just leave.

This happened around the time the Oldsmobile Delmont took the big carwash.

Can you confirm this story?

HowieCarr3 karma

May have some elements of truth, but the timing is wrong. Chappaquiddick was in July 1969, Joe was 16 at the time, don't think he could have stared down the cops at that age. However, there's no question that the Kennedys got away with plenty, esp. on Cape Cod, even more so than Palm Beach. Half the merchants down there have their own stories of Kennedys shoplifting. Either that, or they show up at the cash register and say they have no cash, and can they charge it. They never carry cash. That's true down through the generations.

ThePinkPoo3 karma

What do you see in President Trump that made you rally for him?

Especially with this:

"On June 29, 2016, Carr, as an opening speaker at a Bangor, Maine rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, made a Native American "war whoop" when referring to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.[20]"

HowieCarr-4 karma

Don't tell me you really think the fake Indian is a real Indian. Or maybe you believe that "high cheekbones" indicate Cherokee blood. I have challenged her repeatedly to take a DNA test which I would pay for in order to find out who has more Native American blood, me or her. Given our respective eye colors, my money -- er, wampum --is on me!

Deanlechanger3 karma

Do you think Ted would still be senator if he were alive? And for how long?

HowieCarr3 karma

He would indeed still be a senator. And would be until the day he died.


Is the movie Jackie an accurate reflection of how she felt?

HowieCarr5 karma

I'm not sure anyone knew how she really felt about anything, except that she liked security, i.e., money, and would do anything to make sure that she didn't end up destitute like so many of her Bouvier relatives. (She didn't, needless to say.)

Synisive3 karma

Have you ever met and talked to any of the Kennedy clan? What was the conversation?

HowieCarr9 karma

Many of them. When I was in TV, I once told Ted that my father used to be the asst. manager of the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach. He nodded and said he learned to drive taking his grandfather Honey Fitz, the former mayor of Boston, down to the Breakers every morning to sit in the lobby. I didn't know what to say. "Oh, so that's where you learned to drive, eh Senator?" I knew Michael, the rapist who killed himself skiing in Aspen. Not a bad guy to have lunch with, obviously I had no idea. Dougie used to work at the Herald, he's a really decent guy. Joe III, now a Congressman, is not a bad person either. He wrote me a nice condolence note when my mother died. They're not all horrible. Max had an aborted run for Congress, totally unsuited temperamentally for the job but wrote a very good book about WW2.

suaveitguy3 karma

Ever know Jimmy Breslin? What do you think of him, and what do you think of his work?

HowieCarr6 karma

I loved his work, especially his early stuff at the old NY Herald-Tribune. If you can, pick up on a used-book site The World of Jimmy Breslin. (Not the World According to Breslin, which is NY Daily News columns, good but not as good as the Herald-Trib columns.)

CraigMack783 karma

Ever run into Kevin Weeks out and about ?

HowieCarr6 karma

No, haven't seen him in a very long time. He was working a construction job at the new Wellesley High School a few years back. A cop recognized him and went to Weeks' foreman and said, I don't think that gangster should be working this close to the home of a guy he threatened to murder on national TV (60 Minutes).

Seraph_Grymm2 karma

How do you choose your topics to write about? Non-fiction has such a wide range of topics and is really creatively restrictive. With that in mind, how do yo approach writing non-fiction in a creative and engaging way while still remaining true to the topic/person you're writing about?

HowieCarr13 karma

Somebody once said, write about what you know. I think I know the Kennedys. I lived in Palm Beach off and on as a boy, I saw JFK playing golf, RFK at Sunday Mass at St. Edward's. Ted Kennedy tried to shut down my newspaper, the Boston Herald, as well as the NY Post, back in the 1980's because I called him Fat Boy. (The papers were owned by Rupert Murdoch.) I've been covering them as a reporter for my entire adult life. Same with the Bulgers, who I have written about. Whitey, the gangster, wanted to kill me. When someone tries to kill you (or deprive you of your livelihood, in Ted's case), you tend to keep an eye on that person.

ThePinkPoo2 karma

When someone asks a question that you don't want to ask, do you automatically assume they are a troll?

Pretty weak deflection, shortsighted my friend.

HowieCarr4 karma

Asks a question I don't want to ask? Drink much tonight, Poo?

zoidboob1 karma

Are there any books in particular which you feel cover the JFK killing the 'closest' (in terms of what might have really happened) that you could recommend?

HowieCarr11 karma

Another good question. I think the assassination books all have problems of one kind of another, pushing one theory or another, the narratives going down rabbit holes, etc. One way to start a study of the assassination, I think, would be to read (after Kennedy Babylon, of course) one of the bios of J. Edgar Hoover, either by Kurt Gentry or Anthony Summers. They show the kind of CYA'ing that was going on in the immediate aftermath. As for the overall corruption of the JFK 1000 days, Seymour Hersh's The Dark Side of Camelot is top-notch. He's been taken down a peg or three because of his later Bush Derangement Syndrome, and also because he almost got scammed by a fraudster claiming to have letters between Marilyn Monroe and Joe Kennedy while finishing the book, but Dark Side is still amazing. (So is Kennedy Babylon, or did I mention that already -- and I have 100 photos you'll never see anymore else, from the files of the Boston Herald.)

EarlThePearl391 karma

Who had bigger breasts, Ted Kennedy or Marilyn Monroe?

HowieCarr9 karma

See page 8 of Kennedy Babylon. Ted Kennedy, no question. When JFK put on a few pounds, he would notice his "Fitzgerald breasts." I guess that was in the Fitzgerald genes, that and the alcoholism.

numbtongues1 karma

Who killed JFK?

HowieCarr2 karma

To repeat an earlier answer, I don't know for sure but my best bet would be somebody in the Mob. They were pissed at RFK's anti-Mafia crusade after they helped them steal the election in 1960, and also because of the botched Bay of Pigs operation, which if it had succeeded would have enabled them to recoup the gambling investments they'd lost in Havana when Castro took over in '59. Less likely but possible Castro did it, or the Deep State. But one theory I'm not buying is Roger Stone's -- that LBJ set it up. I know JFK was planning to drop him from the ticket in '64 for NC Gov. Terry Sanford but I still don't think he did it. LBJ went crazy one time when his longtime mistress (and mother of his son) asked him directly if he'd done it.

wanderlustful21 karma

Hi Howie - What's your secret to losing weight over the past few years? Did you and Doug take the same path in that regard? BTW, how did you guys meet? I miss the days of you to on TV over on Beacon Hill - best part of the morning show!!

I'm a fan from the area. Your comments here are insightful, as usual. Thanks for doing another AMA!

sandyfan220 karma

He traded air ads for lipo at Newton Wellesley. You think Carr pays for anything?

HowieCarr3 karma

Not lipo, I had the sleeve. It's the state of the art weight-loss surgery, one step up from the gastric bypass. They chopped out 80 percent of my stomach, it wasn't bad, really. It was done on a Friday, I was out of Newton-Wellesley on Sunday and back at work on Monday, if a little groggy. I recommend it highly. I can still eat anything, just not as much. Lost 100 pounds, have kept it off. VB stopped eating sugar, period. I too miss those mornings on live TV, with the spare change guy behind me as I did my liveshots, filling in for the vacationing VB.

pickle424410 karma

My dad listens to your show in the car and I'm always annoyed by it. Anyway Howie, how's life going?

HowieCarr3 karma

It's going great. I'm flying to Dallas tomorrow to spend the weekend with my daughter at SMU. The book is selling well, the book tour starts next week. Check out where I'm going to be at, click Kennedy Babylon.

suaveitguy0 karma

How important is neutrality/objectivity to a reporter's writing?

HowieCarr4 karma

Nobody can be truly 100 percent objective but if you're a reporter you're supposed to try.

blackguysamurai-1 karma

Hi Howie, lots of respect to you for your work. I'm a supporter of our president and obviously there is a massive amount of hearsay and twisted information that leads many to put greater stress on perceived "evil" than Donald Trump deserves. My question is why do you support President Tump?

HowieCarr-4 karma

Trump represents a corrrection to the massive corruption of the last eight, make that 50-plus years, in the federal government. I don't know if he can succeed in fixing the problems, but at least he'll try, unlike Hillary.

strichnyne13 karma

Howie that is one of the dumbest things ever posted on reddit! Congrats!

HowieCarr7 karma

You do know that the Clinton Foundation received $100 million from Russian oligarchs, right? It's in Clinton Cash by Peter Schweitzer, never challenged. You do know that after she signed off on Russian interests getting 20 of the US uranium supply, her husband was paid $1 million for 2 speeches in Moscow. You do know that the Podesta brothers have made hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying for Russian interests, don't you? Who would Putin not want to have as president someone he'd already successfully bribed?