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Within this cultural and intellectual environment, Kennedy could escape criticism for failing to appoint a woman to the Cabinet. This was also a period in American history when the office of president, at that time unsullied by the Vietnam war or the disgrace of Watergate, earned extraordinary power and respect.

While it is difficult to believe now, Kennedy was not a particularly popular presidential candidate - he beat Richard Nixon by the narrowest of margins - but as soon as he became president he immediately gained stature because of the authority of his office.

Then, journalists acknowledged the separateness of a politician's private and public life.

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'As Oldman, 59, won the award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the late Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, social media users quickly reminded everyone of the domestic violence allegations lodged against him by Fiorentino in 2001.

In 2005, he paid out an undisclosed settlement after a hotel employee accused him of rape in 2003.

Rumours that Joe Kennedy, the overbearing patriarch, offered her a cash payment of dollars 1m were never denied, and the truth about the marriage will remain untold until the taped interviews with Jackie, kept by the Kennedy Library in Boston, are finally released to the public. The same discretion was exercised by J Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, who kept a private dossier on Kennedy's philandering.

That Kennedy's sexual misdemeanors did not surface during his presidency also says much about American society at the time and the role of the president within it.

Judith Exner waited until 1977 to expose their affair and Marilyn Monroe died without ever discussing her relationship with the Kennedy brothers.

Even female journalists who were subject to unsolicited advances kept them secret.

He was always more comfortable in the company of journalists.

As a candidate, he would drink late into the night with reporters; as president, he dined with Washington's journalistic elite - the Alsops, the Grahams and the Bradlees. While it is almost inconceivable that journalists were unaware of his womanising, Kennedy had built up enough goodwill among editors to ensure it was discreetly overlooked.

After the Second World War, the United States self-confidently proclaimed its leadership of the 'free world', yet remained a nation where individual rights were narrowly defined.

In the states of the old Confederacy, blacks were routinely denied the right to vote or share eating, sleeping and toilet facilities with whites.

That suggests that Americans are prepared to overlook assorted shenanigans, so long as their leaders compensate in other ways. He may be dragged before a court and face humiliation; he may even have his testicles examined and photographed.

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