Saturday, February 14, 2004

Private Lives

Hi all. Checking in from my undisclosed location. Thanks to Tena for doing a great job in my absence [which continues until Sunday].

Anyway, just wanted to make one comment while it was sloshing around in my brain. To the extent that the media is touching the Kerry "adultery" issue, they're making implied or explicit comparisons to Clinton.

But, compare this to the treatment by the media of Salon's stories about the Henry Hyde, etc... Then the media got outraged that journalists would dare to invade the "private" lives of public figures. Comparisons with witch hunts and Sexual McCarthyism were frequent. Then, of course, there was clear relevance of the information.

The Kerry story, even if true, has as far as I can tell zero relevance for anything - other than the media declaring that the private lives of Democrats are fair game. The media outlets that haven't yet touched this don't seem to be ignoring it because they would, out of principle, not run the storry. They're ignoring it simply because there's no confirmation. I have no doubt that if this story were "proven" that it would be everywhere.

These issues are always complicated and there are rarely clear lines. But, for the record I think public figures can have little expectation of privacy, and politicians in particular should have little expectation of sexual privacy. That isn't necessarily the way I'd like it to be, but that's the way it is. And, the more people make their personal life and personal morality "public," the less right they have to expect the media to only report the details they want them to. If your personal life is part of the story, then calls for privacy are simply a desire to be able to control the message about your personal life. You can't have it both ways. On the other hand, the media should consider a bit more carefully what their standards are and apply them with a bit more consistency.

Paging Larry Flynt, paging Larry Flynt...