Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School



Within the present decade, the American public has been shocked by the political assassinations of three well known public figures. One of these was Robert F. Kennedy who was assassinated during a victory celebration at the end of the California primary in 1968.The alleged assassin, Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, a Jordinian immigrant to the United States, pleaded that he committed the murder out of love for Jordan and a loss of faith in Robert F. Kennedy. The public was made aware of Sirhan’s trial through the mass media. The coverage of the trial was somewhat restricted because of laws forbidding any form of news media to prejudice the outcome of the case. Many questions had to do with the rhetoric presented by the defense. The defense lost the case. A California jury found Sirhan Bishara Sirhan guilty and sentenced him to death in the gas chamber. The rhetoric of the defense in the Sirhan Bishara Sirhan trial was not commonly covered in detail by the mass media. One wonders as to what the arguments to save Sirhan’s life were. An analysis of the rhetoric of the defense might offer some evidence as to the reason for the outcome of the trial. The purpose of this investigation is to try to determine the effectiveness and the effect of the rhetoric of the defense in the Sirhan Bishara Sirhan trial. These determinations will be attempted through a rhetorical criticism of the defense’s presentation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Sirhan, Sirhan Bishara, 1944

Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968

Debates and debating



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University