Thursday, May 25, 2006


While Garance gets at some of the ways this kind of media coverage will impact Senator Clinton, I think the analysis is missing the broader issue which is that the mainstream media has long had multiple conflicting and inconsistent standards when it comes to the private lives of public figures, especially politicians and members of their own club. More than that it presents yet another mainstream media corrupt habit of making something news for no particular reason and then pretending that the story just appeared out of nowhere, even when in this case there is literally no semi-legitimate hook for it. In this case it's doubly corrupt because it's The Paper of Record, which as we all know is liberal, so that gives additional license for the rest of the corporate press to jump on the story.

There's also the little issue of the press's history with the Clintons, where at some point there was no personal detail, no matter how poorly sourced, which was not considered to be legitimate news. One would've liked to have thought that post-Monica Madness this little habit was beaten out of them, that maybe they even had a few regrets, though it's clear again that it's not the case. The Clinton Rules of Journalism never left us.

And, finally, it puts on display the utter vapidity of the press corps we're dealing with. If Dean Broder, who has been covering Washington since 1820, can't sit through a 45 minute speech on energy policy, and the press on Air Force One would rather watch King Kong than the Hayden hearings, while they devote their time and resources to a long 50-source article about how often the Clintons are getting busy, then we have a problem, and it's not something we're going to clear up at a blogger ethics panel.

I'm actually one who thinks that members of the celebrity press (not all the press) are, indeed, celebrities and should have about the same expectation of personal privacy as they, the press, grant to other celebrities. I also think that politicians are public figures who as such should have fairly limited expectations that their personal lives can remain that way, especially to the extent that they conduct their personal lives in public. But our mainstream press has long failed to have any consistent standards for these things, tut-tutting juicy revelations one day while screaming about them the next. And the biggest dodge they use to excuse their behavior is to claim a story is just "out there" when they themselves were the ones to put it out there.