The Old Guard of Gossip Queens

From Holden:

Tina Brown on Kitty Kelley, Matt Lauer, Sharon Bush, and the Snob Press:

Lauer’s carpet-bombing actually achieved a considerable feat. He made kooky Kelley come across as a poised pro. She fought off his attempt to impugn her journalistic creds with a smiling, stony, honeyed defense of her sources. “Look what they tried to do to Richard Clarke. Look what they did to Paul O’Neill. Look what they did to Ambassador Joe Wilson. If they don’t like the message, beat up on the messenger.”

Lauer’s follow-up punch in the next segment ended up lending credence to Kelley’s portrait of the intimidating nature of the Bush dynasty’s influence. Sharon Bush, discarded wife of W’s younger brother Neil, was wheeled out to deny Kelley’s claim that she had confirmed the book’s sensational charge of Bush 43 doing coke with his brother Marvin at Camp David during Bush 41’s presidency. But she looked and sounded so rattled, all you could think about was how much flak she must be getting from The Family for her indiscretion. You almost wanted to bundle her into the trunk of a car and drive her to a safe house.

I happen to know that Sharon fibbed frantically when she told Lauer that, yes, she had once been planning to write a book herself, but it was a “self-help” book. Two years ago, I was invited to the apartment of a social grande dame to meet Sharon and offer her publishing advice about a tell-all she wanted to write about her life in the bosom of the Bush family. Sharon was accompanied by her then-PR rep, Lou Colasuonno, who has since flipped sides and confirmed Kelley’s claim that Sharon endorsed the coke story.

The former Mrs. Neil Bush was a sad, lost soul that afternoon, dissolving into hanky-soaking tears as she talked for two hours about the lousy deal the presidential family had offered in her acrimonious divorce from W’s womanizing kid brother. It wasn’t a pretty story. She told how her appeals for help to Bar and Poppy had fallen on deaf ears. In despair, she said, she even pleaded her case to the Rev. Billy Graham, whom she asked to make a call to Bush 41 on her behalf. But, according to Sharon, Graham was too sick to do it. Ultimately, it seems, she lost her nerve about her memoir but was dumb enough to have a four-hour lunch with Kitty Kelley.

Now Sharon has the worst of all worlds: no big fat book advance of her own and all the wrath of the Bush family and its many retainers.


The 600 pages of her newest bioporn may get more traction among the public than the snob press would allow. Michiko Kakutani’s review in the New York Times dismisses Kelley for having “little to say about national security, the Florida election standoff or the Bush family’s ties to the Saudis.” Fine, but if you want a discussion of the great issues, go plow your way through Kevin Phillips or Paul Krugman. The great issues are not the Kitty Kelley brand. Kelley belongs to the old guard of gossip queens who traffic in the upstairs-downstairs leftovers of life with the toffs.