JFK Photo Trips Up TMZ

TMZJFK.jpgTMZ may have gained a healthy chunk of credibility over the past year by being the first to report the death of Michael Jackson, but alas, nobody’s perfect.

The site admitted Monday that a photo it posted Monday morning, which allegedly pictured President John F. Kennedy on a boat filled with naked women in the mid-1950, was a fake, The New York TimesArtsBeat reported.

TMZ corporate sibling The Smoking Gun blew the whistle, saying that the photo was actually from a spread in Playboy in November 1967, four years after Kennedy was assassinated.

From the original TMZ post:

Professor Jeff Sedlik, a forensic photo expert, says the print appears to be authentic. Sedlik says the photo is printed on paper consistent with what was used in the 1950s. The emulsion on the surface of the print has numerous cracks—the result of aging and handling.

There are numerous articles and books on President John F. Kennedy that mention a two-week, Mediterranean boating trip that JFK—then a senator—took in August 1956 with his brother, Ted Kennedy, and Sen. George Smathers. The trio reportedly entertained a number of women on the yacht. Jackie Kennedy was pregnant at the time and was rushed to the hospital while JFK was on the boat. Doctors performed an emergency C-section, but the infant was stillborn.

Forensic analyst Sedlik superimposed an image of Kennedy taken at the Democratic National Convention in August 1956, just days before Kennedy went on the Mediterranean cruise. Sedlik says the features from the two pics almost precisely sync up. TMZ has also had two Kennedy biographers examine the photo—they also believe JFK is in the picture.

The photo was eventually given to a man who owned a car dealership on the East Coast. The man kept it in a drawer for years, and would brag to friends that he had an image of JFK on a boat with naked women. The man died 10 years ago, and one of his sons inherited the photo.