Mimi Alford, “Once Upon A Secret”

“Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” – Henry Kissinger

When Henry Kissinger spoke those words, they were meant as a witty retort to a question posed to him at the annual White House Correspondent’s Dinner.  He was responding to a reporter who had asked him about his ability to fill his dance card with a number of very attractive and successful women.  Secretary Kissinger had enjoyed, albeit some very brief, relationships with women such as Barbara Walters, Candice Bergen, Jill St. John and Gina Lollobrigida.  There are more, but you get the idea.  What I am uncertain about is whether he realized the other implication in his remark – that on the male side of this equation there is an equally intoxicating effect.

A woman by the name of Mimi Alford has been doing a number of appearances regarding a book she has written, “Once Upon a Secret”.  It contains some sordid material, but it also tells a story about two people who engaged in something that left them and their families damaged and broken.  I watched an interview with Mrs. Alford conducted by Meredith Vieira on “Rock Center” Wednesday night.  During this interview she revealed details of an affair with  President John Kennedy which began when she was a 19 year old White House intern. (Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be interns.)

That President Kennedy had affairs is nothing newsworthy, in and of itself.  Even Mrs. Alford’s 18 month long assignation was mentioned 10 years ago in another biography about John Kennedy.  What I was disturbed by was the backlash about her book, and how the women in these situations are still judged more harshly than their male counterparts.  I read a review of the book this morning in the New York Times.  It is less a review and more of a brutal mockery of Mrs. Alford in which every aspect of her life and character is called into question.  The author is a woman, Janet Maslin.   There is not word about the betrayal perpetrated by the President.  There is nothing that suggests any responsibility on his part for the seduction and acts that she was required to perform, not only for himself, but for others within the Kennedy circle.  He receives a resounding pass.  In the eyes of The Gray Lady, Camelot is alive and well.

She talked about their very first sexual encounter during which she lost her virginity.  The President had offered to give the new intern a tour of the First Family’s residence.  This incident happened in Mrs. Kennedy’s bedroom, on her bed.  That, at least for me, moved his actions beyond betrayal and into the realm of contempt.  The choice of location for this tryst was not accidental. There is a message there, not only about his feelings regarding his wife, but about his opinion of women in general.

None of us are shocked by sexual scandals anymore.  In fact, they seem to be so common place that many of us sharply lowered our expectations for committed relationships.  It goes on in our own neighborhoods, never mind politicians and celebrities.   What I am shocked by is the criticism, the shame, that is still borne by women – particularly when it is leveled by other women.  I don’t support or forgive her role in this affair.  After the first time, she had ample opportunity to think about what had happened, and to reassess her desire to remain at the White House.  During those 18 months, she went from innocence to complicity.  Certainly, for every married man looking to stray from his marriage vows, there is a woman willing to assist him.  I do think, however, that before we jump into any witch hunts, we should all take a deep breath and ask why we still allow ourselves to think “boys will be boys”.  Perhaps critics should re-read “The Scarlet Letter”.

Taylor Armstrong on “Dr. Drew”

While I’m on the subject of book tours, Taylor was interviewed by Dr. Drew Pinsky on Thursday night.  She told him that she has been reading books about survivors of suicides, so we can probably expect to hear a new set of buzzwords on that subject.   We know that she is a quick study when it comes to picking up phrases related to her role as the victim.  She has read the Cliff Notes and makes outlines with bullet points.

This woman truly has no boundaries.  She told Dr. Drew that, although she has no independent memory of such a thing, she has discussed, with her therapist, the possibility that she may have been sexually abused as a child.  This opens the door for a whole new set of excuses for her behaviors.  I’m sorry for how this sounds, I really am, but I wouldn’t be surprised is she announces that she is also a survivor of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

She strongly defended her right, no her duty, to write her book in an effort to save other women in domestic violence situations.  She spoke with such a sense of urgency, as if she alone would be the one to lead the real victims of this horrible crime into the light.  Her book could not wait, to borrow a phrase from Brandi, “a hot minute”.

In response to a statement by Russell’s attorney that Taylor should prove her abuse allegations of physical abuse by releasing her medical records, Taylor volleyed back that it was such a coincidence as she was planning to release her CAT scan and medical records very soon.  We will wait and see just what these records reveal.  Understand that, unless she has gone rogue and is acting against the advice of her lawyers, those very same lawyers are recommending this move as a tactical way to get ahead of public opinion and a possible jury.

Dr. Drew is more than supportive of Taylor’s claims, and even allowed Taylor to become the interviewer when she turned the tables and asked him about why women are victimized.  He shared her fear that, if Taylor is condemned for her story and her book, women might be even more afraid to speak out and get help.  I have to say something about this from my own professional experience.  It is when women make false claims that other women are driven back into the darkness. Women who lie about abuse or sexual assault make all women think twice about whether their own real pain will be believed.  Should Taylor’s claims actually be found to be a great big lie, she has betrayed all women, whether they are victims of these abuses or may be in the future.

She then went on to talk about her compartmentalization of the little Shanna and the adult Taylor – the two separate and distinct personalities.  This is true of those who suffered or witnessed traumatic, violent events as a child.  Therapists will often address the childhood issues as a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  This is not an illness experienced only on the battlefield.  Many people who, as children, have seen violence where they or their loved ones have been the targets often need to be treated for PTSD or it will linger into adulthood and shape all future relationships.  In Taylor’s case, well, perhaps she has learned something about this, too.

She also responded to the criticism she has gotten from Russell’s family and friends.  She basically said that they had no idea what they were talking about, and that she and Russell had little or no contact with any of them during her marriage to Russell.  Russell’s sister will be talking to Dr. Drew on Friday night.  I am interested in what she has to say.

I guess that I am not surprised that Dr. Drew offered his full support to Taylor and her mission.  He has some conflicts of interest here.  I couldn’t help but notice that Dr. Sophy’s name was never uttered.  I’m at the point where watching these interviews is simply more mind-numbing than enlightening.  I don’t see any signs that Christiane Amanpour is locked in mortal combat with the producers of “60 Minutes” over an interview with Taylor Armstrong.  The only thing that I am getting from writing posts about these hug fests is a case of carpal tunnel syndrome.


This entry was posted in Making Stall Talk, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Mimi Alford, “Once Upon A Secret”

  1. Viewer 5 says:

    Good Morning Empress,

    I read the book review. Hell, even Marilyn Monroe was deluded enough to think she was ‘reporting for duty’ as a citizen in service to Kennedy. I remember reading about Ms. Alford (not that I recalled her name.) I would think, as a young woman, to have had an affair with a president who was subsequently murdered would be traumatic on a lot of levels; it was before the pill, before the boomer “revolution” of the late 60’s. The Times had a female reviewer cleverly bash Ms. Alford’s motivation for publishing and her obvious search for self (coinciding with NOW and ERA, etc.) and I am disappointed they didn’t place Ms.Alford in more of a cultural context than the narrow perspective of sexual infidelity. Yuck.

    Re: Taylor. I really do think time will prove that Bravo is giving Taylor enough rope to hang herself, and people like Dr. Drew (who is much more savvy about victims of physical and childhood sexual abuse than he let on last night) are either working for ratings, or in cahoots with Bravo. Taylor will provide “medical evidence” the same way the FBI was investigating her twitter death threats. (No proof; no follow-up.) Dr. Drew’s leading assertions were straight out of the 1989 recovery playbook. (Sexual abuse.) He knows better. That theory, as a blanket excuse for addiction, etc. was debunked almost fifteen years ago.

    The more Taylor talks (and I suspect Gallery Books is happy to let her talk) the more she lays herself open to speculation of her increasingly outrageous claims, the more those claims can be debunked with facts. It’s not going to end well for Taylor, and Bravo knows it – I suspect they’ve been preparing their offense/defense (sports!) against Taylor ever since Russell killed himself, and doubly so since she released her “abuse” photos to ET. Taylor has caused hours and hours of meetings at Bravo with in house and of council attorneys and PR specialists. They know EXACTLY what they’re doing, and they’ve played their hand perfectly; their ending Reunion 2 with Taylor’s clearly edited maniacal grin upon being asked if Russell’s suicide was “murder” was one of the most gruesome tactics I’ve seen on TV… remember, this is a network famous for their Bravo edit™ of characters.

    I could go on… Empress, thanks for a wonderful post. I wish I could be as concise in my comments as you are in your posts!

    • V5,
      When I read the NYT book review, I wondered if Ms. Maslin had actually read the book, or just picked out excerpts that she could use a punch lines for her snark. The NYT has come under a lot of criticism in recent years for the way it has delivered its’ stories, and I think that sometimes they, and many other news sources, are crossing the line between journalism and sensationalism. The adage “if it bleeds, it leads” has crept into all of our mainstream media – that, and the need to be the “first with the story” – even when they are incorrect.
      As for Taylor, I think that, like Jill, she is just tossing stuff into the air with no real plan to follow up on her promises and teasers.

      • Adgirl says:

        Could not agree more. The NYT has lost their cool.
        If there is a whiff of politics in the story you can guarantee the NYT and Wash Post are (ehem) quite biased. It is shocking to them because, well, all of their writers & editors agree with each other! What bias? There ain’t no stinkin’ bias here!

        There isn’t one media source that I can trust. I have to cruise through a lot of them to capture enough information to make up my own mind on even the simplist of stories. Or book review.

        • Adgirl,
          I am reduced to getting the news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Anything else comes with an agenda. Stewart and Colbert are equal opportunity offenders.

          • Viewer 5 says:

            Hi Empress/Ad –

            My dad only watched Jon Stewart for political news. Ha!

            I think reviewers are often chosen for their ability to sensationalize or provide compelling content in their reviews. I have a friend who reviews for NYPost(Murdoch!), infrequently, and he is a brilliant snarkologist

            • Tuzentswurth says:

              We don’t have news, we have entertainment (driven by ratings and profit). Stewart and Colbert are more reliable.

  2. Tuzentswurth says:

    I am in agreement with your assessment of the double standard that remains against women and is perpetuated all too often BY women. Sometimes I think there are more self loathing women than not. For some reason I don’t understand, despite times, educational opportunities, and consciousness raising this society remains mind numbed to the sexism that harms women and girls and gives us shows like “Jersey Shore” (hell, any show connected with New Jersey) and offers a prototype for behavior more appropriate to wildlife. Men and women are both sexual beings. The attitude that women are somehow “dirty” while men are normal harms our sons as well as our daughters.
    I have been watching Bravo let Taylor fly too and I was thinking the same thoughts, they are letting Taylor trap herself, and Andy the misogynist sits and grins.

    • T, It does seem that every step forward women make, there are too many who take 2 steps back. I don’t completely understand it either – maybe it’s jealousy, maybe it’s self-loathing or maybe we’re just too new to the rules of the game that men have created and been playing by for a long time. Not male-bashing, they just are, or at least appear to be, more comfortable and secure in their roles.

    • Viewer 5 says:

      I’m not sure, but I think Andy’s misogyny (if you will) stems from a vile contempt for lies. When people are honest, he seems to enjoy their company. I also think he had to toe a very serious line with (possible) cataclysmic repercussions b/c of Taylor. I know I couldn’t have done it, were I in his position. That written, he can kind of be a tool sometimes.

      Also, every asshole boss I’ve ever had has been female. And I mean: serious asshole. Ugh. F**k work. 😉

  3. Designdiva says:

    After Noon all…. I just have one short question….What two surgeons in California are going to be stupid enough to sign documents attesting to the fact that on July 5th they had to perform reconstructive surgery on taylor armstrong due to an orbital floor blowout….???

    …..Hearing before Medical Board….
    Board member…. Um Dr blow hard…did you at any time suspect that the nature of this injury was not consistant with the story told to you by mr and mrs armstrong..
    DR Blow hard..well kinda sorta… they told me the kid kicked her….I told them to get the kid different shoes
    Board member…. Dr blow hard..you do know we have laws here in California that state IF YOU SUSPECT abuse it MUST BE REPORTED..
    Dr Blow hard….crying…I know I know…but she put this spell on me and I believed her…like all those others out that she hoodwinked…PLEASE PLEASE…dont take away my license and ability to make a living….sob sob sob…

    NAH…those drs arent signing anything for TIT to release to the publice…PLUS it violates HIPPA does it not ?????

    I watched Mimi the other nite.. I respect her and pray that she finds solace with in herself that she did nothing wrong….. and other women who are critical of her…Well….they can go blow…
    Some men are pigs….SOME… Men in position of power are even bigger pigs….and I dont have any sympathy for the “wives” of these pigs who silently sit by and do nothing or even address the problem of the infedelity…turn turn turn…….

    Hugs and Peace

    • Diva, I love your cross-examination of Dr. Blowhard. LOL!
      As for the “Taylor spell” – we could send her some info on waxing and waning moons.

    • Tuzentswurth says:

      Hi Diva, Anyone can willingly share their own medical records with anyone they wish. Hippa stops anyone else from deciding to share your personal records. Taylor’s CT report states that this is not an acute injury so we have no way of knowing how old the injury was. Why didn’t she share the operative report from July 5 also if she is trying to establish truth? Then there is the problem that Taylor initially said the black eye photo was from Russell punching her in the face so now she just exposed herself in another lie. Taylor needs to stop pursuing fame and seek help!

  4. Adgirl says:

    OMG Empress I am SO glad you brought these two women up.
    I am avid nonfiction reader. I will read ANYBODY’S story or diary (Warhol, Pepys, Motley Crue) with the exception of current political figures who are boring.
    This past year I happened to read; a biography about J Edgar Hoover, another book called The Dark Side of Camelot (re: JFK), Gore Vidal’s two memoirs (did you know he is related to Jackie and also to Luis Auchincloss?) a book by Frank Sinatra’s valet and on & on.
    They ALL described in detail a virtual conga line of women into the JFK White House. His incredible libido or sexually compulsive behavior is franky disgusting. JFK’s drug use, lying about his health, mob connections, shady family and his war mongering he is (in my opinion) the very worst of presidents. Luckily for JFK’s family he was tragically murdered and elevated to sainthood while this was swept under the rug.
    This poor woman who is being eviserated by the media … well how dare she smuge the halo of St JFK? If she were Richard Nixon’s intern well that would be something else entirely!

    • Thanks Adgirl,
      I would be more than happy to hear YOUR take on these books. Call me what you want, but I can’t see myself reading them. Taylor’s book is, well, we know what Taylor’s book is. Mimi’s interview the other night gave me a kind of creepy TMI feeling – e.g., the White House swimming pool story.

      • Adgirl says:

        I have no interest in reading Taylor’s book. I don;t usually read “victim” books unless it;s from the law enforcement side. I just like peeking into the methodology of HOW people became famous, infamous or coped with their lives. Very interesting. Especially because I lack the ambition gene.

        I’m starting James Boswell’s diary written in the late 1700’s. If there is anything of interest I will report back, I’m a fast reader and plow through a couple of books a week by reading right before bed.
        I forget 99% of it after a week. LOL.

        • Viewer 5 says:

          Motley Crüe?! How cute!

          I know we’ve “discussed” books before. I have a couple of recs for you. “The Churchills” and (closely related) – couldn’t put it down – “The Mitford Sisters.” There is also an Auchincloss memoir, written in his lovely formal language, “A Voice from Old New York” that (I think) came out in 2011? I, too, forget what I’ve read after one week. 😦 Can’t remember a damn thing about the Auchincloss memoir.

          I should try the J. Edgar Hoover. Essentially, any bio is good if it’s well written. Thx for the tip.

          • Tuzentswurth says:

            I love bio’s too. I fall asleep reading and don’t remember also. You might enjoy “The President’s Lady” by Irving Stone. It’s about Rachel and Andrew Jackson, a true love story and scandalous because she was divorced. Very interesting and well written.

  5. Adgirl says:

    Taylor … she is obviously mentally ill. I am dead serious about this. She isn’t just exagerrating or lying.
    She reminds me of those 1980’s era daycare kids who would create phantasmic images of ritualistic ceromonies and guinea pig murders because they received such a positive reaction from adults.

    Shame on the tv doctors for abetting this psycho.

    • ITA that Taylor has severe psychological issues but not one of them are among those that she is claiming.

    • Designdiva says:

      Adgirl…too weird you referred to the 80’s daycare thing ..at TWO A>M> V 5 and I were having that same conversation….. DO DO DO DO DO… thats scary music words for you..LOL LOL

      • Adgirl says:

        I hear ya!!!

        I do believe Taylor was hit … but it wasn’t a one sided event. Now that Russell isn’t here we don;t get to hear about her insane drunken behavior. I’ll bet the Malibu was just a tiny peek.
        She is BSC.

  6. BTW, I read Quincy’s post today on the relationships and “pecking order” syndrome that plagues each and every one the Housewives. It is a very well thought out and reasonable POV on all of the franchises and BH in particular. She’s on my blogroll if you want to mosey over.

  7. PussyGalore says:

    Hello all……….Mimi Alford was on the View this morning and Barbara Walters was extraordinarily contemptuous towards her, much to my chagrin. According to BabaWawa Ms. Alford should have gone to her grave with her secrets intact so as not to upset Caroline Kennedy and the rest of the Kennedy clan. This seemed pretty hypocritical to me since Baba recently wrote her own memoir
    in which she revealed her own affair with a married man, who I presume also has a family who may have been hurt and offended to learn of his transgressions. The idea that Mimi Alford does not have a right to tell her own story is patently absurd and I was happy to see that she held her own with Barbara.

    As for the shady shyster, I have complete faith in Diva and V5’s contention that she’s being given enough rope to hang herself. As annoying as I now find Dr. Drew to be I will be watching this evening to see the interview with Russell’s sister. I’d be only too happy to hear that he played a part in the grand scheme to take the shyster down. Hell, he could maybe even redeem himself in my eyes if that were to be true.

    • Viewer 5 says:

      I hate reading that about Baba Wawa. It’s kind of like Maureen Dowd slicing and dicing Monica Lewinsky when she had some long-standing affair with… some guy. I forget whom. Might have been at NYT – might have been from Time mag. Good grief, if there’s one thing public personalities should learn, it would be not to point fingers (and take so seriously) people who are “guilty” of the same crap you’ve done yourself. Ahh… l’humanité! L-hu-man-i-té! (pronunciation poached from “The Women” by Clare Luce. Another homewrecker… ;D

Comments are closed.