Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Secrets and Scrutiny

 

“That secret affected my whole adult life.” — Mimi Alford, author of Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath on “The View,” February 2012

“As a person navigating the waters of public scrutiny, you are often unable to hold on to personal heroes or villains. Inevitably you will meet your hero, and he may turn out to be less than impressive, while your villain turns out to be the coolest cat you’ve ever met. You never can tell, so you eventually learn to live without a rooting interest in the parade of stars, musicians, sports champions, and politicians. And you lose the ability to participate in the real American pastime: beating up on people you don’t like and glorifying people you do.” — Rob Lowe, Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography, April 2011

In February 2012, I started to really pay attention to the way that the media would protect their preferred bad-actors while working overtime to associate their political adversaries with scandal and sleaze. It was when Mimi Alford published her account of what it was like to be a White House Intern and mistress to the President of the United States.

In May 2003, Mimi was outed by the press after being mentioned by historian Robert Dallek in his Kennedy biography An Unfinished Life. She declined the impulse to cash in on her 15 minutes of fame, simply said no comment, and went back to her private life. The way she handled the tabloid attention was a master class in how to maintain your dignity and privacy even when caught in a sex scandal involving American royalty.

Yet in 2012, she published her own account of the affair with Kennedy, including some lewd details. Although she was a 19-year-old virgin when the 45-year-old Kennedy plied her with alcohol and led her to his wife’s bedroom, she never accused him of rape. She owned up to her shameful behavior, and she explained how she was swept away by Kennedy’s charm and the allure of the elite surroundings. She decided to tell her story because she realized that someone else might. It was the only way to maintain control over her life’s story, and it allowed her to put the affair into a larger context.

Alford’s memoir mostly reflects on how the affair and keeping it secret affected her married life. Unsurprisingly, entering into marriage with the baggage of having been the mistress of a recently assassinated president is not ideal. Even though Alford doesn’t blame Kennedy, her book makes clear how callously he treated her by initiating the affair in the first place. It’s obvious that he never gave a moment’s thought to how her life would go after he was done with her. To me, that insight was more interesting than the lurid scenes recounted in the book, but it appeared neither interesting nor important to those who interviewed her in 2012.

The interview that really appalled me was on “The View,” with Barbara Walters. It’s hard to find the interview in its entirety, but Walter’s disdain for Mimi Alford is clear from this clip. Walters starts the interview saying, “You’ll make a lot of money!” and ends it by asking why she couldn’t have just stayed quiet. Watch the larger panel of ladies on “The View” wonder why Alford came forward here.

Watching the interview at the time, all I could think was how dare Barbara Walters talk about the propriety of writing about an affair when she had just done that in her own memoir in 2008. I never read Walters’ book, but I remembered the coverage of it as I watched her try to smear Mimi Alford as greedy and selfish.

Having witnessed the media’s disdainful treatment of Mimi Alford, it’s hard not to compare it to more recent stories about women making sexual accusations against powerful men. Nowadays, it is quite common to hear Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, or even Bill Clinton condemned for their atrocious, and in some cases, criminal treatment of women. We have all heard the “Access Hollywood” recording of our current President explaining that women are suckers for rich, powerful, famous men, or as some listeners hear it, admitting to sexual assault.

Ever since I first heard the private remarks that Trump made long before he was the president, I thought that NBC could have spared us. Now I think that if Trump had been talking to Matt Lauer instead of Billy Bush, we probably would have avoided so much hatred, division, and countless pink-hatted protestors. The media protected Kennedy from public scrutiny of his predatory behavior and they continued to protect him nearly 50 years after his death.

I’m not without sympathy for the Kennedy family,* for what Kennedy suffered during his life, or for the horrific way that he died. But I do think Mimi Alford’s story deserves to be mentioned more often when the media references the abusive behavior of powerful men. The fact that it isn’t makes it even more clear that the media are just beating up on people they don’t like and glorifying people they do. And they have the nerve to do this while refusing to shine the light on their own bad behavior. If it’s so important for the American people to know the true character of their elected officials, why isn’t it equally important to know the character of the journalists giving us the news?

Christine Blasey-Ford has been hailed as a hero in many circles and Stormy Daniels has been described on TV as a “fun, working mom.” Their stories, which are inconvenient to all the right people in the minds of the mainstream media, have led to the slogan, “Believe All Women.” The story of Mimi Alford is just one example of how the media believes, supports, and protects only those they favor for political purposes. Although it may not seem important after all these years, it was important to her. What it reveals about the media should make it important to all of us.


* Update: In saying family, perhaps I should have said Kennedy’s wife and children, who lost their husband and father. As for JFK himself, it seems to me that the death of his older brother was a loss we can all sympathize with. Of course, the extended Kennedy family has been marked by tragedy. Some of that tragedy has been brought upon themselves. The fate of Mary Jo Kopechne is a whole other post, but the point would be similar to the one I make here. The media treats the lives of JFK, the Kennedys, and other politicians and celebrities as if they are more important than the lives of others. As has been said by others before me, they only care about women in general. They show no real concern for the life of an individual woman.

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There are 18 comments.

  1. Randy Webster Member

    Lilly B: or for the horrific way that he died.

    Dying after a six months’ painful battle with cancer is a horrific way to die. Dying in a few seconds from a head shot isn’t.

    • #1
    • January 21, 2020, at 4:05 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Lilly B: or for the horrific way that he died.

    Dying after a six months’ painful battle with cancer is a horrific way to die. Dying in a few seconds from a head shot isn’t.

    Wow, I honestly don’t know what to say. Maybe it was more horrific to witness than to experience. That part of what I wrote was really an aside. If that’s your take away, then this post is not for you. I’m quite familiar with long, drawn out deaths from cancer. Much longer than six months. Would you prefer I wrote about that?

    • #2
    • January 21, 2020, at 5:17 PM PST
    • 1 like
  3. RightAngles Member

    She acted like more of an adult than I would have at 19. How funny to note the differences between their treatment of her and their treatment of Kavanaugh’s accusers, not to mention any women involved with Trump. It’s yet another demonstration of the fact that the left has no principles or core values. They just change them with the situation.

    • #3
    • January 21, 2020, at 5:57 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  4. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Lilly B: or for the horrific way that he died.

    Dying after a six months’ painful battle with cancer is a horrific way to die. Dying in a few seconds from a head shot isn’t.

    Randy Webster, your comment reminded me that there is something strange about the amount of sympathy and understanding and reverence we’ve always shown, or have been prompted by the media to show, the Kennedys compared to the amount we give to other people or prominent families. I mean, fairly recently, one of the granddaughters of…..who was it ? ……Robert Kennedy ? ….died of what sounded like a drug overdose and the neighbors of the Kennedys actually put their American flags at half-staff. Something about that seems sick to me. The hostility the author of this book encountered is like a symptom of the same illness.

    What is the void we have that we tried for so long to fill with this family ? And what is it about this family that enabled them to take advantage of that void ?

    Lilly B, this is a fascinating post.

    • #4
    • January 21, 2020, at 9:38 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  5. Songwriter Member
    Songwriter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Excellent post. I’m sorry to say that I have no sympathy for the Kennedy family. As a Christian, I should. But I don’t. They rigged elections, and they got away with rape and murder, literally. Instead of serving in office, most of them should have been sitting in jail. I am still amazed at the level of reverence and attention they receive from the fawning media. They were the Clintons before the Clintons were the Clintons.

    • #5
    • January 22, 2020, at 7:25 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  6. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Regarding the Rob Lowe quote, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a number of well-known people and most don’t live up to their reputation which makes it all the more pleasant and surprising when you meet someone who does. 

    • #6
    • January 22, 2020, at 8:33 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  7. Vectorman Thatcher

    Songwriter (View Comment):
    Excellent post. I’m sorry to say that I have no sympathy for the Kennedy family.

    There is at least one innocent one: Rosemary Kennedy.


    Join other Ricochet members by submitting a Quote of the Day post, the easiest way to start a fun conversation. There are many days available on the February Signup Sheet. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #7
    • January 22, 2020, at 8:48 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  8. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    Excellent post. I’m sorry to say that I have no sympathy for the Kennedy family. As a Christian, I should. But I don’t. They rigged elections, and they got away with rape and murder, literally. Instead of serving in office, most of them should have been sitting in jail. I am still amazed at the level of reverence and attention they receive from the fawning media. They were the Clintons before the Clintons were the Clintons.

    Thing is they were both worse, in some ways, and much classier in public than the Clintons.

    I think part of the answer to how the fanatical loyalty to the Kennedys began might be that they started to come to prominence when people from Irish Catholic, and immigrant Catholic, working class backgrounds were still shunned and, therefore, felt a need for champions.

    We’ve forgotten the way people from that background were shunned, and surprised when we come across traces of the story. In the 1970’s I knew a guy who explained that his grandfather changed the spelling of their last name so that people would think he was Scottish instead of Irish. In the late 1970’s, early 1980’s, my mother met a man of Polish ethnicity who said he once, much earlier in time, applied for a job as a teacher and was told privately, by the principle of the school, that his place was in a job in a factory. Many years ago, I occasionally was a caregiver for an Irish Catholic man who told me that, in the 1930’s, his well connected, W.A.S.P. wife made his acceptance in the teaching profession possible.

    • #8
    • January 22, 2020, at 8:49 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  9. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Songwriter (View Comment):
    Excellent post. I’m sorry to say that I have no sympathy for the Kennedy family.

    There is at least one innocent one: Rosemary Kennedy.

    How beautiful she was in 1938.

    What a tragic story.

    At least there’s this: judging by how long her life was (She died at 86.) there must have been people in it who made it clear to her that they loved her.

    • #9
    • January 22, 2020, at 9:40 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    Ansonia (View Comment):

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    Thing is they were both worse, in some ways, and much classier in public than the Clintons.

    I think part of the answer to how the fanatical loyalty to the Kennedys began might be that they started to come to prominence when people from Irish Catholic, and immigrant Catholic, working class backgrounds were still shunned and, therefore, felt a need for champions.

    We’ve forgotten the way people from that background were shunned, and surprised when we come across traces of the story. In the 1970’s I knew a guy who explained that his grandfather changed the spelling of their last name so that people would think he was Scottish instead of Irish. In the late 1970’s, early 1980’s, my mother met a man of Polish ethnicity who said he once, much earlier in time, applied for a job as a teacher and was told privately, by the principle of the school, that his place was in a job in a factory. Many years ago, I occasionally was a caregiver for an Irish Catholic man who told me that, in the 1930’s, his well connected, W.A.S.P. wife made his acceptance in the teaching profession possible.

    Good points. Several years ago, I came across a writer who made the point that JFK may have targeted Mimi precisely because she was a WASP. It was suggested that he was motivated by a desire to demean her type. That she was naive enough to think it was all fun and games shows us why we should hold powerful men accountable when they abuse that power. Unfortunately, I can’t recall where I read this and therefore don’t know the evidence for that assertion. The ongoing social tensions between Catholics and WASPs at the time and the likely bitterness at not being fully accepted into American society does support the theory. 

    • #10
    • January 22, 2020, at 10:47 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Regarding the Rob Lowe quote, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a number of well-known people and most don’t live up to their reputation which makes it all the more pleasant and surprising when you meet someone who does.

    If it’s a good reputation, there are probably few who can measure up! I liked that Brad Pitt was self-deprecating in his acceptance speech for whatever award he just won, saying it was so hard for him to play a man who gets high, takes his shirt off and doesn’t get on well with his wife…or something to that effect. A little humility goes a long way. Famous people are just people, and it seems that fame is more often a curse than a blessing. 

    • #11
    • January 22, 2020, at 10:53 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  12. kylez Member
    kylez Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I just read that Rob Lowe book last summer. 

    • #12
    • January 22, 2020, at 3:06 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  13. RightAngles Member

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    Ansonia (View Comment):

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    Thing is they were both worse, in some ways, and much classier in public than the Clintons.

    I think part of the answer to how the fanatical loyalty to the Kennedys began might be that they started to come to prominence when people from Irish Catholic, and immigrant Catholic, working class backgrounds were still shunned and, therefore, felt a need for champions.

    We’ve forgotten the way people from that background were shunned, and surprised when we come across traces of the story. In the 1970’s I knew a guy who explained that his grandfather changed the spelling of their last name so that people would think he was Scottish instead of Irish. In the late 1970’s, early 1980’s, my mother met a man of Polish ethnicity who said he once, much earlier in time, applied for a job as a teacher and was told privately, by the principle of the school, that his place was in a job in a factory. Many years ago, I occasionally was a caregiver for an Irish Catholic man who told me that, in the 1930’s, his well connected, W.A.S.P. wife made his acceptance in the teaching profession possible.

    Good points. Several years ago, I came across a writer who made the point that JFK may have targeted Mimi precisely because she was a WASP. It was suggested that he was motivated by a desire to demean her type. That she was naive enough to think it was all fun and games shows us why we should hold powerful men accountable when they abuse that power. Unfortunately, I can’t recall where I read this and therefore don’t know the evidence for that assertion. The ongoing social tensions between Catholics and WASPs at the time and the likely bitterness at not being fully accepted into American society does support the theory.

    I remember reading years ago in some biography or other that the reason the Kennedys were in Hyannis Port was that they weren’t accepted in the social circles of Newport. And when he was running for president, the big fear was that he’d take orders from the Pope. There’s a good chance JFK did harbor some resentment.

    • #13
    • January 22, 2020, at 5:14 PM PST
    • 1 like
  14. Linguaphile Member

    How ironic that Walters asks Alford if she was thinking of Carolyn Kennedy when she published the book. My question is: did JFK think of Carolyn Kennedy (or John-John) when he was behaving in such a way? Strange to put the onus on Alford.

    • #14
    • January 22, 2020, at 5:17 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  15. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Linguaphile (View Comment):

    How ironic that Walters asks Alford if she was thinking of Carolyn Kennedy when she published the book. My question is: did JFK think of Carolyn Kennedy (or John-John) when he was behaving in such a way? Strange to put the onus on Alford.

    Walters attitude is also weird because Carolyn Kennedy was already a woman well along in middle age when Alford published this book. I mean we’re talking Year 2012, aren’t we ? For how long are we supposed to protect the children of people in public life ? (It seems it’s only with the Kennedys that the answer to that is: all of their lives.)

    The American people are less psychologically able to do whatever they can to be responsibly self governing while having toward any family the glassy eyed, star struck, idolizing reverence they had toward the Kennedys. Why wasn’t Walters thinking of that instead of getting nastily snooty with Alford ?

    There’s a lot we can learn, or be reminded to remember, about ourselves—-about the effect of physical beauty, celebrity coolness, media propaganda; the pull of whatever it is we want so badly, sometimes without knowing it, to have or believe; the fact that we’re all corruptible and vulnerable to enchantment —-from reading about Alford’s involvement as a young person with J.F.K..

    We should be aware of human nature, and the blinding effect of our own weaknesses, when evaluating potential leaders, and in order to keep the leaders we choose in line. It helps with that to remember what fools we made of ourselves over the Kennedys. They seduced all of us.

    • #15
    • January 22, 2020, at 5:48 PM PST
    • 1 like
  16. Steve C. Member

    Lilly B: Inevitably you will meet your hero, and he may turn out to be less than impressive, while your villain turns out to be the coolest cat you’ve ever met.

    I don’t know about the second half of the quote but I’ve found the first to be true. Face it. Everyone has failings and foibles. I find it best not to look behind the curtain. 

    • #16
    • January 22, 2020, at 7:56 PM PST
    • Like
  17. Doctor Robert Member

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Lilly B: or for the horrific way that he died.

    Dying after a six months’ painful battle with cancer is a horrific way to die. Dying in a few seconds from a head shot isn’t.

    Wow, I honestly don’t know what to say. Maybe it was more horrific to witness than to experience. That part of what I wrote was really an aside. If that’s your take away, then this post is not for you. I’m quite familiar with long, drawn out deaths from cancer. Much longer than six months. Would you prefer I wrote about that?

    You could say, “interesting point. Thanks.” JFK was dead in a millisecond. We should all be so lucky.

    • #17
    • January 24, 2020, at 2:37 AM PST
    • Like
  18. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Lilly B (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Lilly B

    You could say, “interesting point. Thanks.” JFK was dead in a millisecond. We should all be so lucky.

    Interesting point. Thanks.

    • #18
    • January 24, 2020, at 6:11 AM PST
    • Like