Steve Adubato: Unholy Trinity

Only Jim McGreevey could make Eliot Spitzer’s self-inflicted exit from public life look dignified.

They’re back: Jim McGreevey at a 2002 prayer service in Princeton with (from left) wife Dina, aide Kellie Drakeford, and driver Theodore Pedersen, who now says he had three-way sex with the McGreeveys.

So bizarre and unpredictable is the saga of our ex-governor’s public feud with his ex-wife, Dina Matos McGreevey, that twice in the last nine months I have had to revise the chapter on them in my forthcoming book, What Were They Thinking?, which examines how public figures and corporations have handled scandal and crisis.

Finally, I had to omit the chapter altogether—even though the McGreeveys are the poster children for self-immolation in the media spotlight. Anything I write about them could be completely eclipsed by the time the book comes out in August.

While we all were searching for more info about prostitute Ashley Dupre, the Belmar native who proved to be Spitzer’s downfall, along came Theodore Pedersen, Jim’s ex-driver, to explode an even bigger bombshell.

Teddy publicly accused Dina of “hypocrisy” and playing the “victim” when she appeared on the "Larry King" and "Today" shows to offer support for Spitzer’s wife, Silda. Dina talked about the pain of being blindsided by Jim’s 2004 announcement of his gay escapades. Willfully blind is more like it, according to Teddy, 29.
He told the Star-Ledger (as well as the New York Post) about his three-way sexual encounters with Jim and Dina. These “Friday night specials” started at T.G.I. Friday’s, he maintained, and rollicked on “into Saturday mornings.” He added, “In my opinion, me being a part of their sexual relationship enhanced it for both of them.” TMI!

I thought it was impossible to be further shocked or surprised by the McGreeveys, but Pedersen’s claims blew me away. I thought both parties would release statements denying Pedersen’s account or at least saying it’s a private matter. Dina did deny there had been any threesomes, but Jim immediately put out a statement confirming that it did indeed happen. Turns out Pedersen had previously been deposed by Dina’s lawyer in the couple’s divorce case and had given the same information. Pedersen would have risked perjury to make up such a story under oath.

Given that Pedersen’s claim of three-way sex has some credibility, it was reckless of Dina to step into the public eye again. By going on TV and comparing Silda Spitzer’s situation to her own, she made herself a target. How could she think the result would be anything but negative?

My feeling is that when you’re locked into the kind of battle the McGreeveys are, you lose sight of your own actions. I’m convinced that both Jim and Dina think they’re winning the P.R. war. But apart from further wrecking their reputations and dragging New Jersey back into the gutter, they are hurting an innocent person, namely their six-year-old daughter, Jacqueline.

I get it. Dina wants $600,000 from Jim for her suffering. Jim wants joint custody. Fine. Divorce is never nice or easy. I was divorced when our son was very young. Divorce is never good for kids, but it doesn’t need to burden them for life. What happens when Jacqueline gets older and reads her parents’ books or learns about the Teddy Pedersen stuff?

Thanks, Jim and Dina, for again embarrassing your home state. Now can you please exit the spotlight? Not only for us, but mostly for the sake of your daughter, who has done absolutely nothing to deserve this mess.

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Steve Adubato, PhD., is an Emmy Award-winning anchor for Thirteen/WNET and a media analyst and columnist for MSNBC.com. He provides commentary on talk radio station 770-WABC.  He is the author of the book "Make the Connection", as well as the soon-to-be published book "What Were They Thinking?", which examines highly publicized and often controversial public relations and media mishaps. For more information, log on to www.stand-deliver.com

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