Learning From Mimi…A Lesson About Compassion

Today’s blog was going to be another one in the world of the ever pregnant Workin’ Mama, but my mind was altered by watching today’s episode of The View. Today’s Hot Topic Guest was controversial author Mimi Alford who wrote of her 18-month affair with President Kennedy. In her book, “Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath,” Alford discusses intimate details of her relationship with the President..a time before there was even a Monica Lewinsky.  She was a young college student and obviously very impressionable, but her actions would put color on a lot of faces when they read the book.

Obviously expecting a real conversation but some sort of professional compassion from a group of women, Alford seemed a little taken aback at the treatment from the “Women of the View.” Barbara Walters especially seemed to go after her, making a series of comments relating to the books ability “to make a lot of money.” The only panelist that seemed to look at both sides of the issue was Joy Behar and she was in the minority. Sherri Shepherd looked as if she would rather conduct the interview from China and Whoopi rarely had any questions. This was definitely an “interrogation” that Barbara Walters was conducting.

While I am a little embarassed for Ms. Alford to reveal these intimate secrets about her past, I can not doubt that it was a cathartic experience and sometimes your spirit can not be at total peace until you have revealed the secret that has been gnawing at you. I found it very unfortunate that Barbara Walters berated the woman so viciously that she seemed to tear up at the end. Where was the un-biased journalism that Ms. Walters is known for? Where was the compassion? All of it was missing from the show today. A person on Twitter reminded me that we are in the middle of February Sweeps and perhaps this was a way to invoke drama, ratings, or a DAYTIME EMMY from today’s grandstanding performance.

Perhaps what bothers me the most about this is that it is too easy to judge others and forget the mistakes that we have made. Wasn’t it Barbara Walters that wrote a revealing tell-all that discussed her previous intimate relationships with married men of power? The question that Babs needs to ask herself…would she have wanted someone to treat her as she treated Mimi Alford or with kindness and compassion?

I am in no way agreeing with the behavior of Ms. Alford, but I think we all need to take a step back and think about how we treat one another. We have all made mistakes, and while most of us can say those mistakes weren’t with the President of the United States, they were mistakes all the same and  we would not want anyone to know. She carried this secret her entire life, what a huge weight that must have been.

What secrets are you harboring? Are you brave enough to reveal them? If not, don’t be so quick to judge. After all, you never know when it’s gonna be your turn to sit at the table and have others judge you. Are you looking for judgement or compassion?

6 thoughts on “Learning From Mimi…A Lesson About Compassion

  1. Yes – I agree – today’s View was hard to watch. I believe everyone has a story to tell and the right to tell it in the way they choose. She kept this secret all these years – and we all know the impact that secrets have on our soul.

    Yes – she needs to get it out and heal all that she carried. She’s not the first person to tell her story, speak her truth. Why can’t we simply let her tell it? I mean think about it, is it really that shocking given all we know about President Kennedy?

    Mimi was a young 19 year old intern at the time, influenced by the most powerful man in our country. What would you have done if you were in her shoes?

    Why does she have to carry this alone? She wasn’t alone at the time of the affair…So why does she have to carry it? Continue to keep “the secret?”

    Wasn’t she hurt enough by a man that humiliated her at such a young and vulnerable age?

    He wouldn’t kiss her but had no problem sleeping with her and offering her up to friends and family for sexual acts?

    Wouldn’t that mess with your head for um…a good long while?

    Think about it – doesn’t it take most people who have been sexually victimized quite a while to even realize the abuse they’ve endured?

    Everyone is entitled to healing of life and all it’s hurts. How about showing compassion? How about not inviting guests onto your show that you know you are going to shred and hurt further?

    (Yeah – let’s line up to be a guest for a good daily grind, shall we? I just love the idea of being reduced to tears as I tell my story.)

    As for selling book – any author can tell you most don’t make squat off the sales of books. If you really had that much heart burn over her level of disclosure, then why did you invite her on? What’s your motivation?

    Oh – that’s right – it IS February. “February Sweeps” where all networks bring out the best and most controversial stories for ratings. I wonder how Mimi’s publicist prepared her to be today’s meat for the mill? She did a wonderful job of self composure given the constant digs and personal attacks.

    And you just hurt another women who was seriously taken advantage of by a man. Ouch!

    It’s a sad tale for EVERYONE involved. And yet the pain just keeps on flowing…..

    How about an apology? That would be a great place to start. Just a thought.

  2. It was horrible, the way Barbara Walters treated her. Every few minutes holding up the book and proclaiming in an exaggerated tone, “You will certainly makes LOTS of money for this…”

    It smacks of a holier-than-thou, almost competitive additune and disdain for herself. She reflects it onto Mimi Alford, but I have a feeling it was more about her self-loathing.

    Regardless. It was crass, rude, and definitely not anything remotely resembling classy, the way she interviewed Mimi. Interrogated. Grilled.

    Good post!

  3. I agree glutenvgirl – Barbara was projecting – and we’ve all been there – as have other show hosts. When it happens, it’s super hard to watch. The others at the table sit back and watch too. Really hard to deal with it in the moment while on TV! I would love to be a fly on the wall after the show to see how these situations are handled (assuming they are – and I could be wrong).

    Elizabeth went off on a guest a few months ago – I forgot who now – but she was absent for a day or two – and came back with a new attitude – as did all of them. It seemed like a kinder gentler View for a while…until today.

    That being said, guests are booked in advance. And I have no doubt everyone on staff knew where Barbara stood on this author. And clearly Mimi was prepared to respond to her critics, albeit probably not quite to this level of shame, humiliation and disgust. I hope she knows what happened was not about her, but about Barbara – or at least is working with someone to help her see that.

    Barbara clearly is seeing something in Mimi that she’s not able to own yet – and I hope she has someone to work that out with – what ever she saw in the mirror today.

    That said, Barbara hurt many people – Mimi for sure, as well as any young woman being victimized by someone in authority who may not trust others to come forward due to not being believed, criticized or just told to “forget it,” and therefore forced to keep this deadly kind of secret.

    I remember Oprah doing this once to a white women on crack during pregnancy. She shredded her – up one side and down the other – completely cruel – citing how could any mother put their children in that kind of jeopardy? The following week, Natalie Cole was a guest – telling her story of cocaine abuse and almost having her toddler drown in the pool while she was getting high – with no sense of punishment, condemnation or disdain towards her like she showed her previous guest. In fact, Natalie was held up as a hero for overcoming addiction. It was shocking to see – we could see it and yet she couldn’t.

    Like I said, it happens to all of us and can be a healing tool if we let it. I hope Barbara can find compassion for herself, forgive herself and therefore be in a better position to extend that to her guests. It certainly makes for richer TV.

  4. Mimi Alford is a much better than I am. I am a sixty year old woman who was the victim of sexual abuse in a similar situation and about at the same age. Mimi is still too naive to even be mad at JFK. If I were her, I would go and urinate on his grave, What a scumbag to do what he did to her, his VICTIM,

  5. this is why I don’t watch daytime talk shows. it’s all about humiliating people for the ratings. That poor woman! And Barbara calls herself a journalist….tsk, tsk, for shame!

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