Ottawa Sun

August 19, 2001

Thou doth protest too much

By SUSAN SHERRING -- Ottawa Sun

When the details of the divorce case between multimillionaire Michael Potter and former newspaper reporter Alana Kainz were made public early last week, reaction was swift and generally full of anger.

For whatever reason, the story has touched a nerve among the general public. In phone calls and e-mails, people have been incredibly emotional about this issue for a variety of reasons.

Some because you've been touched by divorce personally and experienced the ugliness of fighting over financial settlements.

While the size of the bank accounts may have been different, it seems many of you feel you've been taken to the cleaners either because you had to give up too much or because you didn't receive enough.

For the record, Kainz is asking for a lump-sum payment of $15 million and $300,000 a month from her ex, whose estimated net worth is $745 million.

Obviously, it's the figures that cause people to bristle, because they're so foreign to our daily existence. Most of us struggle to make our monthly stipend last long enough, and hope there's still something left over for a night on the town.

But the short-lived Kainz-Potter marriage was in Rockcliffe and Newport and wherever else they felt like going. Places where kids' parties are catered, where somebody famous designs your clothes and somebody else drives your car.

As one reader pointed out, over 15 years, Alana's demands would add up to approximately $68 million -- about what Potter could make in interest in a year.

Another astute Page Six reader left an interesting question on my work voicemail.

If a man was getting a divorce and he had $745 in the bank, and his spouse was asking for a $15 settlement, would anyone feel that was unfair?

"Of course they wouldn't," the woman caller said, answering her own question in the message she left for me. "It's only because we're talking in the millions of dollars that people are getting so upset."

And upset many of them are, with a rage that I have to admit has caught me a bit off guard, especially as some of the anger turned to me.

Readers wanting to really insult me call me a feminist (I'm not insulted); another called into play my sexuality, somehow drawing an assumption, based on my columns, that I'm a "friggin' lesbian."

I've long believed the problems Kainz has had in the public domain are based on the belief that she somehow wronged her murdered husband by entering into a relationship with Potter too soon.

It wasn't until I read Page Six reader Rick Ethier's e-mail that I found someone who seems to share my way of thinking.

Ethier believes as I do that Kainz is being condemned because the general public thinks she entered into a relationship too soon after Brian Smith's death.

"Her actions don't diminish her love for her late husband, but the common folk would only be satisfied with her donning black for the rest of her life. What's wrong with striving for some happiness during what I can only begin to imagine was the most stressful period of her life. It's ironic that the narrow-minded people are the same ones that make the most noise, and it gives us the impression that no one cares, but there are those that do ...

"Let her know not to judge all of us by the people that will paint her with the brush of condemnation. I hope that Ms. Kainz, once she has "closure" can see past the ugliness and keep a smile on her face."

* * *

THOU DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH: Imagine my surprise listening to CFRA's Drive Home show on Friday and hearing some fill-in announcer named Jim yelling at me over the airwaves.

"Susan Sherring, shut up," Jim said. The announcer said he wouldn't talk about the divorce between Kainz and Potter because such cases don't belong in the public eye -- no matter how famous the people getting divorced are.

I don't mind being dissed, but I'm just wondering. If Jim and the Drive Home show were so averse to talking about the divorce, why did the show's producer phone me earlier in the day asking me to be on the show to discuss it?

Instead, the fill-in announcer got to the heart of the lost cat/found cat story.

Now that's journalism.


Susan Sherring can be reached by e-mail at susan.sherring@ott.sunpub.com or at 613-739-5125.
Letters to the editor should be sent to oped@sunpub.com.

Copyright© 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.