Two Women Attempted To Kill Gerald Ford, Sara Jane Moore, the would-be assassin of Gerald Ford back in 1975, may have missed out on much of American cultural life while she was in prison for three decades.
Still, she learned along the way that television has become the new confessional, the place to express your regret for the past and try to redeem yourself for the future.
And so today, at 79, the aging radical gave her first television interview since her release from prison in December 2007.
She has been living anonymously in an undisclosed location since her release, but came out to Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” show.
Asked why she was doing this now, Ms. Moore said: “I think that one gets tired of being thought of as a kook, a monster, an alien, something like that,” adding: “There has been a lot of curiosity. I thought, OK, let’s do it.”
Mr. Lauer asked about how the people in her town might react when they learn about her past. “I hope they’re OK with it,” she said.
She said that when she pulled the gun on Ford — and it was knocked out of her hand by a bystander — she believed that the only way to change the country was through violent revolution. But today, she says, realizes that her actions were wrong, and a “serious error.”
She was tossed in prison for life but was released on parole under a federal law that requires release after 30 years if the prisoner has a record of good behavior. (Her fellow would-be Ford assassin, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who tried to fire at Ford 17 days before Ms. Moore did, remains locked up because she has not had a record of good behavior, having tried to escape, among other things.)
Anyway, when Ms. Moore was arrested, she insisted that she had tried to assassinate Ford because she wanted to create chaos.
She told Mr. Lauer: “We were saying the country needed to change. The only way it was going to change was a violent revolution.” She said she “genuinely thought” that shooting Ford “might trigger that new revolution in this country.”
At her sentencing hearing Ms. Moore had said: “Am I sorry I tried? Yes and no. Yes, because it accomplished little except to throw away the rest of my life. And, no, I’m not sorry I tried, because at the time it seemed a correct expression of my anger.”
But during her 32 years in prison, she said today, “gradually I began to realize that I had let myself be used.” She added: “I definitely think that it was wrong. I think I was misled. I think I was mistaken. I think I made a serious error.”
The radical era she left behind seems to have dissipated in her mind. “It was a time that people don’t remember. You know, we had a war — the Vietnam War, you became — I became — immersed in it,” she said.