Throughout the ‘90s, MTV pushed the envelope in terms of television. But former MTV VJ Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery–writing in her memoir “The Kennedy Chronicles”–recalls that the cable channel brass wasn’t always pleased with her political affiliation. Kennedy was a Republican.
“The irony was that we were deep in Gen X land where rebellion was the most popular flavor,” Kennedy’s former boss Lauren Levine recalls in the book. “And being a Republican was the ultimate rebellion, as most, if not all, were left leaning.”
But Kennedy’s politics weren’t seen that way. “I didn’t dare out myself as a conservative,” Kennedy said of her early months at MTV. Then Bill Clinton got elected. “When one of their own was elected in 1992, it was cause for celebration because the network had very wittingly helped propel Bill Clinton D.C.-ward, and everyone at MTV had a raging case of Beltway fever,” she said.
Instead of partying (she was straight edge, anyway) Kennedy became a bit of troublemaker at the Rock and Roll Inaugural Ball, which she had to attend for her job. When the Clintons went onstage she chanted, “Nixon now! Nixon now!” (There was apparently a lot of Nixon nostalgia in the ’90s.)
“Every time I saddled up to an A-lister to talk about my hopes and dreams and collection of Dan Quayle photographs, someone with a headset would immediately appear and intercept me before I could properly express my longings,” she noted.
But Kennedy really made the gossip columns because of the way she greeted a fellow Republican. “Finally out of the corner of my eye I spied a f—ing rock star real star,” she wrote. “John McLaughlin was looking and I knew another headset was bound to intercept if I didn’t act fast, and I had to prove to him he was not the only Lover of Nixon (or LON for short) in the room.”
Kennedy marched up to the “McLaughlin Group” host and Martha Stewart, McLaughlin’s date for the evening. “I instinctively hiked up my dress, half pulled down my red thong, wangled free of my red opaque satin Donna Karan hose (She was there too! Hi Donna!) and showed him my faithful pink GOP elephant tattoo on my pristine pelvis, which I’ll have you know is a hard spot to show off in confining evening wear,” she said. “He about spit out his mint julep all over Martha’s melons.”
The two became fast friends.
In the end, the meeting didn’t improve the evening. “This huge night came to a solitary end, and I realized, as a choked on my tears, liberals are almost worse than loneliness,” Kennedy remembered.
Looking back on this political era, Kennedy–who now describes herself as a Libertarian–said Clinton was brilliant to embrace MTV and George H.W. Bush was foolish to not.
“Here’s what set MTV apart from places like ABC News and other bastions of liberal news dissemination: we had a prime demographic, a twenty-four-hour cycle, and an aura that simply could not be manufactured, bought, or faked by the major networks,” she argued.
But MTV didn’t hand Clinton that election. “Ross Perot did,” she concluded.