Friday, May 25, 2012

The media’s cruel distortion of the life of Mary Richardson Kennedy

Mary Richardson Kennedy.

In its coverage of the Kennedy clan over the years, the mainstream media has been guilty of both classism and sexism.

One has to marvel at the free pass consistently awarded the philandering Kennedy men; whereas, lesser mortals, e.g., Bill Clinton, not blessed with the pseudo royal heritage of the Kennedys, are continuously vilified.

In the aftermath of Mary Richardson Kennedy’s death, Edee Lemonier discusses at the New Agenda the sexism in the media’s coverage of the women so unfortunate as to have been a part of the Kennedy clan at one time or another.

 Lemonier writes:

Mary Richardson Kennedy, environmentalist, architect, and mother, has passed away at age 52. Mary was a pioneer in the green architecture movement, was a co-founder of the Food Allergy Initiative, and was active with the Boys & Girls Club. She was also a highly intelligent, funny, fiercely loyal friend, and was naturally gifted at fundraising for good causes. She is survived by her estranged husband, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., their four children, ages eleven to seventeen, and six siblings. She was loved by many, and will be greatly missed.

What if that had been the announcement of Mary Kennedy’s death, instead of all the articles detailing some of the darker moments of her life? A lot has been written about her recently, and the information being disseminated immediately following her death seems intended to invite speculation both about how she lived and how she died. She has been painted as a drug-addled drunk who abused drugs and alcohol to cope first with being a Kennedy, then to cope with no longer being one. In true tabloid-style journalism, the writers are juxtaposing her depression with details of RFK, Jr.’s relationship with an actress, as if to fuel rumors that Mary Kennedy was unable realize her marriage was over, further causing the kind of mental instability that would lead to suicide.

Why did media outlets choose to highlight the sadness, instead of her accomplishments? And why did it take her siblings and her attorney coming forward to see a shift – albeit a very slight one – in what is being written about her?


  1. I am having a tough time in coming to grips with the way her family was treated by RFK Jr. All I could think of was her sense of despair and loneliness.

    How could he be so callous. She was a very attractive woman; bright, hardworking.

    She deserved better. How do they think she would feel, being treated like a crazy person.
    There was a report that she hung herself, so that the Kennedy's wouldn't call it an accidental death if it was by sleeping pills.

    I just hope that he doesn't turn the kids against her and that they will be able to see her side of the family.

    May she rest in peace.

  2. Thank you, Anonymous, for your thoughtful and compassionate comment.