Evan Thomas and Chris Matthews: Jackie and Serial Adulterer JFK Had a 'Good' and 'Full' Marriage

Despite the revelations that, while having an affair with an intern, President Kennedy, pimped the teen out to staffers, gave the young girl drugs and helped her look for an abortion doctor, journalists Chris Matthews and former Newsweek editor Evan Thomas insisted that JFK and Jackie Kennedy had a "good," "full" marriage. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]

Thomas appeared on Wednesday's Hardball to spin for Kennedy. After Matthews played a clip of Mimi Alford talking about how she would have rubber duckie races with the President while taking a bath, Thomas deemed Kennedy "complicated." He added, "He obviously compartmented [sic] his life incredibly. I mean, I think, unbelievably, he had a good marriage even as he was doing all this terrible stuff."

 

Thomas, who is married, added, "If it's possible for- to be a serial philanderer and have a good marriage, I guess it's not, but somehow he did." What would Mrs. Thomas think of this?

Matthews also propped up the Kennedy marriage. He spun, "And what seems to be when you listen to the tapes from Jackie and everything we know, a full marriage, where they shared emotions and the ups and downs of life in the White House and all that."

The MSNBC host's wife, Kathleen Matthews, is a local anchor in Washington D.C. Does she agree with her husband that it's possible to have a "full" marriage, despite having multiple affairs?

In a separate segment, Matthews declared that this new information wouldn't change his mind about Kennedy: "He lived life in so many compartments, sharing himself with Jacqueline in one, his political confederates in another, his social pals in another, his affairs in yet another. His religious beliefs, believe it or not, in still another compartment. He was a flawed hero. But looking coldly at history and what he did, a hero nonetheless."

A partial transcript of the February 8 segment follows:


CHRIS MATTHEWS: You and I have been looking at Kennedy since we were born practically, trying to figure the guy out. And what is this? I'm throwing the hot potato to you. What does the rubber ducky story tell you about Jack Kennedy?

EVAN THOMAS: Complicated guy obviously.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

THOMAS: I mean, while he is saving the world from the Cuban missile crisis and doing great affairs of state, he is having affairs not just with her but plenty of women. He obviously compartmented his life incredibly. I mean, I think, unbelievably, he had a good marriage even as he was doing all this terrible stuff.

MATTHEWS: Doesn't it strike you? You put together her story with the new Jackie tapes.

THOMAS: Yes. I mean, she was clearly devoted to him. If it's possible for- to be a serial philanderer and have a good marriage, I guess it's not, but somehow he did.

...

MATTHEWS: You know, it's interesting here as you talked a moment ago about how the inner play works. Here is the guy as president of the United States, married. And what seems to be when you listen to the tapes from Jackie and everything we know, a full marriage, where they shared emotions and the ups and downs of life in the White House and all that. Jackie knew all about politics. And yet this was going on. Do you think it affected negatively? Is there any evidence if he hadn't gotten caught, is there any damage to his work?


MATTHEWS: In war, he saved the lives of his crewmen swimming for four hears with the strap of a man's lifejacket in his teeth. As president he saved his country and the world from a nuclear war with cold detachment, cold calculation, and a brazen ability to cut the secret deal that got us through. He stood up for civil rights with a strong voice and with federal troops to cut through history. He had the strong, positive hopeful vision that none of us will ever forget.

But he was, too, what he was. This new book by Mimi Alford gives us more details of a story most of us already knew well. Certainly, his widow did.

The week after he was killed, Jacqueline, just 34 at the time, told a reporter, all men are a combination of bad and good. She said his mother never loved him, where she's trying to explain that cold detachment of his that knows so well the feelings and motives of others and used them for his own purpose, yet not to be moved by them, that edge that made him a cold steel leader, so heedless, too, of the people close by.

In 1980, long after he was gone, Jacqueline Kennedy called him that unforgettable elusive man. It's from those words that I drew the title of my own book. She said that after hearing someone say, he made no pretense of being free from sin or imperfection. She said that was the one true portrait of him that has ever been done.

Well, Jack Kennedy was hard to figure. He prayed at his bed side each until the night. A ritual his wife thought superstitious. He went to mass every Sunday, grieved prayerful for his lost brother and sister and his lost child.

At his Protestant boarding school, he would go to mass in town, to another island when he was a naval officer, a confession right to the end of his life.

He lived life in so many compartments, sharing himself with Jacqueline in one, his political confederates in another, his social pals in another, his affairs in yet another. His religious beliefs, believe it or not, in still another compartment.

He was a flawed hero. But looking coldly at history and what he did, a hero nonetheless.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org