Be­lieve it or not, here comes a movie about Chap­paquid­dick

Ripon Bulletin - - Opinion - L. BRENT BOZELL III Founder and Pres­i­dent of the Me­dia Re­search Cen­ter

Con­sider it a mi­nor mir­a­cle. Some brave souls in Hollywood have made a movie about then-Sen. Ted Kennedy’s ac­tions in the car ac­ci­dent that left Mary Jo Kopechne dead and aban­doned on Mas­sachusetts’ Chap­paquid­dick Is­land in the sum­mer of 1969. It even stars well-known ac­tors like Bruce Dern, Ed Helms, Kate Mara and Jim Gaf­fi­gan. It just de­buted at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val.

At this mo­ment, one could imag­ine it as a coun­ter­re­ac­tion to tak­ing down Con­fed­er­ate stat­ues. If there’s any­thing in our mod­ern his­tory that needs a re­assess­ment — or just a re­al­ity check — it’s the hide­bound mythol­ogy around Kennedy, that no­ble “Lion of the Se­nate.”

Some pre­dictable protests broke out from the myth­mak­ers. For­mer Wash­ing­ton Post re­porter Sharon Wax­man com­plained on The Wrap News Inc. web­site: “I’m not en­tirely sure why any­one chose to make this movie right now. We hardly lack in nar­ra­tives that de­bunk the Kennedy mystique. In­deed, the Kennedys’ moral fail­ings are hardly what ails our democ­racy at this time. Many of us wish there was a Kennedy-es­que fig­ure to of­fer lead­er­ship in place of the moral chasm that faces the na­tion right now.”

It is al­ways so when it’s a Demo­crat. Through­out 2016, we were told that Hil­lary Clin­ton’s past scan­dals were ir­rel­e­vant. Then-Pres­i­dent Obama’s scan­dals? A thing of the past. For­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton’s im­broglios? We needed to move on. In­deed, that’s why the MoveOn group was born.

In this case, it’s even worse. The lib­eral-me­dia es­tab­lish­ment — com­prised of the ones who pro­claimed from the rooftops that it was manda­tory for Don­ald Trump to aban­don his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign for hav­ing boasted to “Ac­cess Hollywood” host Billy Bush off cam­era that he could grab women in the crotch be­cause he was a “star” — has al­ways be­lieved that leav­ing a woman be­hind in an over­turned car to drown wasn’t at all im­moral or dis­qual­i­fy­ing for the pres­i­dency ... when you’re “Kennedy-es­que.”

But there was more than one mi­nor mir­a­cle. Va­ri­ety film critic Owen Gleiber­man took the op­po­site take. He wrote: “Kopechne’s body was found in a po­si­tion that im­plied that she was strug­gling to keep her head out of the water. And what the film sug­gests is that once the car turned up­side down, she didn’t die; she was alive and then drowned, after a pe­riod of time, as the water seeped in.”

Then, the film critic went for the so­lar plexus, say­ing, “This makes Edward Kennedy’s de­ci­sion not to re­port the crime a clear-cut act of crim­i­nal neg­li­gence — but in spirit (if not legally), it ren­ders it some­thing closer to an act of killing.” He as­serted that the Kennedy dy­nasty us­ing its wealth and power to squash the case is “the essence of what Chap­paquid­dick means.”

Both crit­ics agreed that the movie tells the story in an emo­tion­ally de­tached and clin­i­cal man­ner. Gleiber­man said, “It sim­ply de­liv­ers the truth of what hap­pened: the lo­gis­ti­cal truth of the ac­ci­dent, and also the squirmy truth of what went on in Ted Kennedy’s soul.”

The news me­dia will be left with two op­tions when this movie comes out: They can ig­nore it, just as they did to hard­hit­ting books like Leo Damore’s best-sell­ing “Se­na­to­rial Priv­i­lege: The Chap­paquadick Cover-Up” in 1988. Or, if it’s too suc­cess­ful to ig­nore, they can de­nounce the film­mak­ers and at­tempt to shame them as greed­heads, just as lib­er­als like Bar­bara Wal­ters did in 2012 when Mimi Al­ford came out with a book in which she wrote how then-Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy sex­u­ally ex­ploited her when she was a 19-year-old White House in­tern.

For more than half a cen­tury, the me­dia elite has pre­sented the Kennedys in oozy, hon­orific terms as a gal­lant band of de­vout Ir­ish Catholic pub­lic ser­vants. And they won­der why peo­ple de­nounce them for spread­ing “fake news.”

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