October 31, 2007

Keep Sitting On It

The big question of the day comes from Ron Rosenbaum at Pajamas Media, who heard that the Los Angeles Times has a juicy story on a sex scandal that could rock the presidential primary race. The Times hasn't decided whether to run the story, or at what time, Rosenbaum reports, but they have a solid factual case from all indications:

So I was down in DC this past weekend and happened to run into a well-connected media person, who told me flatly, unequivocally that “everyone knows” The LA Times was sitting on a story, all wrapped up and ready to go about what is a potentially devastating sexual scandal involving a leading Presidential candidate. “Everyone knows” meaning everyone in the DC mainstream media political reporting world. “Sitting on it” because the paper couldn’t decide the complex ethics of whether and when to run it. The way I heard it they’d had it for a while but don’t know what to do. The person who told me )not an LAT person) knows I write and didn’t say “don’t write about this”.

If it’s true, I don’t envy the LAT. I respect their hesitation, their dilemma, deciding to run or not to run it raises a lot of difficult journalism ethics questions and they’re likely to be attacked, when it comes out—the story or their suppression of the story—whatever they do.

I’ve been sensing hints that something’s going on, something’s going unspoken in certain insider coverage of the campaign (and by the way this rumor the LA Times is supposedly sitting on is one I never heard in this specific form before. By the way, [i]t’s not the Edwards rumor, it’s something else.

And when my source said “everyone in Washington”, knows about it he means everyone in the elite Mainstream media, not just the LA Times, but everyone regularly writing about the Presdidential campaign knows about it and doesn’t know what to do with it. And I must admit it really is was juicy if true. But I don’t know if it’s true and I can’t decide if I think it’s relevant. But the fact that “everyone” in the elite media knew about it and was keeping silent about it, is, itself, news. But you can’t report the “news” without reporting the thing itself. Troubling!

Keep sitting on it. Do we really want these tawdry tales getting bruited about the media in place of real policy issues? Do voters have to know every detail of the sex lives of the candidates?

Instead of providing coverage of the candidates as if they were entertainers -- a problem already seen in UFO questions at supposedly serious debates -- we should remember that they're running for public office. We have enough celebrities already to sate our attention-deficit curiosity. Let's stick with qualifications and policy positions, and leave the vicarious thrills of sex secrets to Hollywood stars -- and while we're at it, they can return the favor.


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» LA Times Sitting On Explosive Exposé from Hang Right Politics
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