Why The World Doesn’t Work: The Case Of Jackie Kennedy’s Chef

hustebookThe world doesn’t work, and Ethics is always struggling to avoid losing ground. I collect stories that show why this is. Here is one from the obituary page, the saga of  the departed Annemarie Huste, who was Jacqueline Kennedy’s private chef.

In 1966, the former First Lady moved to New York from Washington, D.C., and in need of a private chef—rich person, you know— hired Huste, a young German immigrant whose previous employer, theater impresario Billy Rose (of “Jumbo” fame!), who had just died, rendering her skills superfluous. Huste did the job to Mrs. Kennedy’s satisfaction,  feeding the occasional hoards of family members who came to visit,  accompanying the Jackie, Caroline and John-John to the Kennedy compound Hyannis Port,  in the summers and playing with the children of JFK.

Then, in 1968, Weight Watchers Magazine approached her about cooperating in a feature called “Jackie Kennedy’s Gourmet Chef Presents Her Weight Watchers Recipes.” Huste dished about Jackie’s diets and dress sizes in the article, never asking for her famous employer’s permission or consent. Jackie Kennedy was horrified, and even tried to stop publication, something the Kennedy family was and is very good at. This time, it didn’t work.

A few weeks later,  Huste gave an interview to Maxine Cheshire, then the “beautiful people” gossip columnist for The Washington Post and syndicated nationally. In return for  inside-the-Kennedy-home details, Cheshire made Huste sound like the coming star of gourmet cookery, hinting that a television show, a cookbook, wealth and fame were just around the corner. What was really around the corner was unemployment: Jackie fired Annemarie Huste, who deserved it. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Fox News

Hang on, Rod...that phone call is coming any minute now....

Apparently to remind us that it too, like CNN and MSNBC, applies cynical and insulting standards when deciding what its audience will regard as trustworthy commentary, Fox News has announced that it is hiring former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford as a contributor during the 2012 election cycle. Sanford was forced to resign after he shamelessly used his office as a means to conduct a long-distance adulterous romance with his South American fire-cracker soul-mate, going AWOL while supposedly doing his state’s business and lying about it in the process. Is this as bad as what Eliot Spitzer, the disgraced New York governor whom CNN deemed an appropriate hire as a the star of one of its prime time programs, did to end his political career? No. Is it still irresponsible?

Oh yes: Continue reading

Leona Gage: A Celebrity Liar Ahead of Her Time

Leona Gage died last week, and there are people who love her and will miss her. But Gage’s obituary would have never been deemed worth of mention in major newspapers had it not been for a series of lies she concocted in 1957 because “she needed the money.” She was Miss USA that year, until contest organizers discovered that, contrary to what she had said,  she wasn’t single ( a requirement then); wasn’t waiting “until she was 26” to have a boyfriend (she had been married twice at 14, and already had a child), and wasn’t 21…she was just 18. Continue reading