Thursday, July 24, 2008

Silence of the Hams

Like Sherlock Holmes' dog that didn't bark in the night, the MSM blackout on John Edwards' visit to his "mistress and love child" (particularly on the part of the cable news loudmouths) gets curiouser.

My assumption yesterday about "this morning's MSM reticence to what surely will be a cable news orgy tonight (Fox News in hog heaven over a fallen Democratic idol on Obama's VP list)" turned out to be stunningly wrong.

The reaction, or lack of it, on the part of the CNN, MSNBC and Fox operatic anchors and their endless panels of expert logorrhea is much more interesting than the story itself.

On Slate under the heading, "Edwards: The Agony of the MSM," Mickey Kaus asks, "If the MSM can discuss the charges in meta form ("It's so easy to jump to conclusions---and I admit, this looks bad") in blogs, chat rooms, and in press commentaries, why not on the front page in political commentaries?"

The most likely answer is a combination of fears about looking salacious and being insensitive to Elizabeth Edwards' medical condition. Even for a longtime non-admirer of John Edwards, this is understandable but not persuasive in the light of media reactions to previous political scandals, from Bill Clinton to David Vitter and Larry Craig.

The rationalizations, extending from "not proven" (the Enquirer today offers more details) to Edwards' privacy rights (he has been out front promoting his poverty campaign and hinting about being Obama's VP), fail to explain it.

As comforting as it would be to believe that all the media are developing more scruples about exploiting the personal lives of public figures, that explanation won't wash.

1 comment:

R. S. Abrinaud said...

The question I'm asking myself is, "Does anyone really care?" SHOULD we care? It distresses me that Americans would rather foam at the mouth over the private and personal shortcomings of our public figures than focus on their ability to actually govern the country! Requiring near Saint-hood of public officials is absurd. So the man *might* have a mistress and a love child. So what? I'm sure lots of men in the U.S. do too. As long as his private affairs don't interfere with his ability to do his job, how he manages his personal life is his own business. I'd rather have a marital cheater in office than one of those so-called *upstanding* citizens who would make their fortunes by grinding the poor into dust. The one is an unfortunate human failing. The other is pure evil.