Johnson had spent much of the day on the phone with Sargent Shriver, the Peace Corps Director. Despite Shriver's clear resistance, Johnson named him the director of the War on Poverty effort earlier today. In tone and substance, this final call of the day differed remarkably from the three earlier discussions. After having dispensed with the question of whether Shriver would accept the position as the new coordinator of a domestic War on Poverty, Johnson delved into several policy areas and even touched on the issue of Shriver being a potential running mate for the fall. Expectedly, they explored the poverty issue, but the President also reached out to him on matters involving Panama, Latin America, and Vietnam, implying at one point that Americans had been involved in the assassination of South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem∇.
The extent of the Kennedy administration's advance knowledge or even participation in the November 1, 1963, coup in South Vietnam and assassination of president Ngo Dinh Diem∇ has been a hotly debated political and historical issue for many years. In this conversation, Presidnet Johnson offers his own interpretation of events to Senator Eugene McCarthy
In the days prior to this telephone call, McCarthy had been widely quoted in the press for his criticism of the recent resumption of bombing. In this call, Johnson tried to convince McCarthy to tone down his criticism and had offered a special briefing from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Maxwell Taylor, reason that, "I thought that if you had the information I had, that you might be assuaged somewhat, and relieved somewhat, and at least, maybe you could suggest a better alternative or something else."
In this recording, made on the evening of Monday, November 4, 1963, less than three weeks before he himself would eventually be assassinated, Kennedy reflected upon the tumultuous events that had transpired in Saigon over the previous weekend, the overthrow and murder of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem∇ and his brother Ngo Ding Nhu.
While Kennedy was recording, his young children, John John (aged 3) and Caroline (aged 6), joined their father for a few moments.