Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy's tabloid television close-up

…The story would be a watershed in American political and sexual mythology. Generations of condoned womanizing by America’s royal family had led to this: a young woman, claiming she was raped at the famed Kennedy mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, in the early hours of Easter morning after a late-night drinking binge with Teddy, his son, and his nephew, William Kennedy Smith.

Willie, as he was know, son of Steve Smith, the late “fixer of Kennedy scandals, was accused in the biggest family disgrace since Chappaquiddick. This would be the first defining new story of our tenure at Hard Copy, and we were sure to come up against massive competition from A Current Affair. After all, Brennan and Dunleavy had written Those Wild, Wild Kennedy Boys back in the seventies—and it wouldn’t get much wilder than this.

We stationed a live truck outside the Kennedy mansion and led the next’s day show live from Palm Beach, Dimond had Michelle Cassone, a young woman who claimed to have gone to the mansion with the victim the morning in question. Cassone accused Senator Ted of chasing her around in a nightshirt while his nephew was having his way with the victim out on the beach.

Back in LA, we had Mike O’Gara don a nightshirt and stand in is stocking feet while a cameraman did a pan from his toes up to his belly As Michelle Cassone described her alleged encounter, we threw in the shot in a frightening, almost subliminal recreation of Ted’s lower regions.

The cops weren’t talking and that made the story even better, Dimind dug up everything possible and we ran stories every day that week. It wasn’t difficult for her to get exclusives, though. For some reason, there was no competition…

After years of looking the other way while Teddy stumbled and groped his way around Washington, going as far as to allegedly have relations with a woman under table during lunch in a private restaurant-- though he apparently won points with the press corps by making use of a private dining room -- all these network newsmen in the Brooks Brothers shirts and loosened ties who spent time taking “L’s” and “R’s” out of Tom Brokaw’s scripts actually ran through a list of the world events and decided that a story in which Senator Ted Kennedy was embroiled in a rape case wasn’t even worth fifteen seconds. The arrogance of the networks was mind-boggling—at least until you considered the Kennedy influence and infiltration…

Read the rest of this story... and much more about Ted Kennedy, his family and their tabloid history... in Tabloid Baby.

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