On Friday, The New York Times did its level best to defend the bloated corpse of Senator Teddy Kennedy (D-MA), one of the worst human beings ever to occupy a seat in the Senate, from a recapitulation in film form of the night he left a woman to drown in a shallow river in Chappaquiddick. The new movie Chappaquiddick ably tells the tale of how Teddy drove a car into the river with Mary Jo Kopechne, then somehow escaped the vehicle and went to sleep, only telling the police about the incident the next day — and how the Kennedy family worked with local authorities to cover up the crime and ensure that Kennedy never served a day in jail.
But in a truly stunning op-ed in The New York Times, Teddy biographer Neil Gabler says that Chappaquiddick is in fact too harsh on Senator Kennedy — who is depicted in the film as confused and remorseful throughout the situation, and a victim of his family’s predations as well as his own weakness.
Hilariously, Gabler contends that “no one but the most lunatic conspiracy theorists see this as anything but a tragic accident in which nothing much was covered up.” Really? A senator known for being drunk off his ass is found to have been in a car with a young woman who is not his pregnant wife in the middle of the night, her dead body ends in a river, he goes home and sleeps it off, and nothing much was covered up? Anyone else would have gone to jail for DUI manslaughter at the slightest.
But according to Gabler, the real victim of Chappaquiddick is Kennedy:
Ted Kennedy has not passed into the public domain in this sense, so one tampers with his life at the peril of turning it into tawdry melodrama. This is especially true of the Kennedy family, who remain politically active, and divisive.
Ted Kennedy isn’t in the public domain? He was in the public domain in all senses. And he was a garbage human being, even if the Left liked his politics. But according to Gabler, “Mr. Kennedy immediately and forever after felt deep remorse and responsibility for the accident; it haunted him.”
In reality, Kennedy was so haunted that he would go on to create “waitress sandwiches” with fellow Senator Chris Dodd (D-DE), as Michael Kelly reported:
As Gaviglio enters the room, the six-foot-two, 225-plus-pound Kennedy grabs the five-foot-three, 103-pound waitress and throws her on the table. She lands on her back, scattering crystal, plates and cutlery and the lit candles. Several glasses and a crystal candlestick are broken. Kennedy then picks her up from the table and throws her on Dodd, who is sprawled in a chair. With Gaviglio on Dodd’s lap, Kennedy jumps on top and begins rubbing his genital area against hers, supporting his weight on the arms of the chair. As he is doing this, Loh enters the room. She and Gaviglio both scream, drawing one or two dishwashers. Startled, Kennedy leaps up. He laughs. Bruised, shaken and angry over what she considered a sexual assault, Gaviglio runs from the room.
Yes, clearly Kennedy learned his lesson.
But according to Gabler, Chappaquiddick is a smear job — despite the fact that the movie doesn’t imply that Kennedy was even drunk (which he likely was) or that he was having an affair with Kopechne (which he may have been). Gabler’s real complaint is that people may begin to see Kennedy for the monstrous human being he was, even if you agreed with his politics:
Fake history is no better than fake news; it’s maybe worse. It is very possible that over time, through the osmosis of social media, the despicable Kennedy of this movie will eradicate the honorable if flawed real one.
The New York Times should know fake news when it sees it. And it’s fake news to suggest that Chappaquiddick was an innocent incident, that Teddy Kennedy was a responsible human being, and that retelling the story of Mary Jo Kopechne 50 years after the fact is some sort of blot on Kennedy’s stellar reputation.