FLASHBACK: Maybe Drowned Mary Jo Kopechne Would ‘Feel Like It Was Worth It’

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Time for another NewsBusters FLASHBACK. It’s was ten years ago last week that journalist Melissa Lafsky speculated about Mary Jo Kopechne, the woman Ted Kennedy left to drown, saying she would be fine with the Democrat’s reprehensible behavior. On August 27, 2009, Lafsky, who at one time worked for the New York Times’s Freakonomics blog, wrote: 

Mary Jo wasn't a right-wing talking point or a negative campaign slogan.... We don't know how much Kennedy was affected by her death, or what she'd have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history.... [One wonders what] Mary Jo Kopechne would have had to say about Ted's death, and what she'd have thought of the life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded. Who knows -- maybe she'd feel it was worth it.

Maybe she’d feel it was “worth it?”  Sadly, this type of galling defense of the liberal Kennedy isn’t unusual. This summer, we hit the 50th anniversary of the famous liberal Democrat driving off a Chappaquiddick Island bridge and abandoning Kopechne to drown. 

One of the most infamous examples of media downplaying came from journalist Charles Pierce in the January 5, 2003 Boston Globe magazine profile of Kennedy. Though he warned that Kennedy lost his “moral credibility” to be president, the mostly sympathetic profile cheered the Democrat’s work to vastly expand the welfare state. Pierce wrote: 

If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age. 

Here’s some embarrassing network footage from the 30th anniversary of Chappaquiddick. 



For more on 50 years of media shame over Ted Kennedy, see my retrospective from July 16, 2019.

Putting the focus in the wrong place is still common for liberal journalists. On August 2, 2019, the New York Times declared Chappaquiddick “another Kennedy family tragedy.” Most would have called it a Kopechne family tragedy. 

For more examples from our FLASHBACK series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.

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