The Christie Brinkley divorce is a lesson in how not to cure a broken heart.
you fit into me
like a hook into an eye
a fish hook
an open eye
"You Fit Into Me" —Margaret Atwood
The court of public opinion doesn't put much stock in the rules of evidence or witness credibility or the formula for calculating child support. Its relentless focus is on what the parties are wearing (crisp white blouse, beige skirt, snakeskin black belt) and the awkwardness that broke out when Christie passed Peter on the way to the ladies' room. Just like in fifth period Spanish. If "winners" in a celebrity divorce are chosen based on which party is prettier, nicer, and kinder to the environment, Brinkley won this one years ago. So what's the point in hauling out the hookers and the porn and the private detectives? That's just red meat for the tabloids.
Brinkley is about to become another victim of the fiction that you can use the tabloids more efficiently than they can use you. Won't happen. Brinkley, Cook, and their two kids will get spit out the other end of this trial, and the only real winners will be the chesty adulteresses—each of whom will have her own reality show/recording contract/clothing label by the end of the summer. I have watched enough nasty custody battles to know that if you really want your children to know the unfiltered truth, you sit down with them (when they are 18 or 21) and tell it to them. You don't run it through the double noise machine of a four-week custody trial and the 24-hour tabloid press. Whatever it is about divorce that sets the parties to behaving like children (Gov. Gibbons apparently used his state-issued cell phone to text-message his alleged girlfriend 860 times in a single month), it would be good of them to get out of the way of the real children—whose best interests are meant to be the polestar of any custody fight. If raising children in the media spotlight isn't its own form of child abuse, subjecting them to four weeks of Daddy's dirty laundry surely is. If you can name me one celebrity who won her celebrity divorce, I'll name you a kid who lost one.
Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate.
Photograph of Christie Brinkley by Will Ragozzino/Getty Images.