Kurtz: National Media Gave Kennedy a Pass
Washington Post political scene reporter Howie Kurtz observes that the national media has been uncharacteristically silent concerning Patrick Kennedy’s previous “adventures,” especially since he is, well, a Kennedy:
It’s hard to imagine that Patrick Kennedy would have gotten elected to Congress a dozen years ago without his last name.
It’s equally hard to imagine that the media would be going wild about his late-night car crash and prescription drug addiction if he weren’t a Kennedy.
The only lingering mystery is why national news organizations didn’t pounce earlier on the Rhode Island Democrat’s long history of alcohol and drug abuse, depression and a series of downright embarrassing incidents.
The answer in large measure is that Kennedy hasn’t been a very important House member. But given the journalistic obsession with the Kennedy family and its tragicomic soap opera, he does seem to have gotten an easy ride — except in the New England press, which has chronicled his every misstep.
While Kennedy, the 38-year-old son of Ted Kennedy, was widely reported to have held a news conference Friday, it was nothing of the sort. He read a statement designed to elicit sympathy, saying he was going into rehab, and took no questions. This amounted to an age-old damage-control technique: changing the subject…
When national news organizations last week began throwing together their congressman-in-trouble profiles — along with the inevitable Ambien sidebars — there was a long list of local clips to pore over.
In 1991, while a state representative, Kennedy acknowledged — following a National Enquirer story — having used cocaine as a teenager, but said he had kicked the habit years earlier by checking into a treatment center.
In 2000 alone, Kennedy got into a scuffle with an airport security guard, who said he shoved her during an argument about oversize luggage; admitted taking antidepressants; was accused by a charter company of causing $28,000 in damage to a rented sailboat; and, after a few drinks and an argument, had a distraught date call the Coast Guard to be rescued from his chartered yacht.
Just last month, Kennedy hit another car in a Rhode Island parking lot.
Relatively little of this drew significant national coverage…
However, Kurtz does note that Kennedy gets more negative coverage here at home.