Friday, October 02, 2009

The danger of sloppy reporting about public figures and sex

I suppose we'll always have sex stories about politicians. Especially as long as we have the kind of mass media personnel we have in the US right now.

But as we saw in the Clinton era, sex stories that are poorly covered by the media can not only be unfair to the individuals involved. They can also become a major tool of sleazy politics.

Now the FOXists are going after another Clinton official, Kevin Jennings, who is openly gay. They are accusing him of a vaguely sex-related instance of bad judgment when he was a teacher, playing to the far right's favored bigoted stereotype of gay men being child molesters. (In the real world, the most common profile of a child molester is a straight married man with children of his own.) The accusations have proven to be 100% b******t. It would be technically accurate to add "so far". But that would imply there was some vague plausibility about the accusations.

Media Matters has been following this, e.g., Statement from former student at center of Fox-fueled Jennings controversy by Karl Frisch 10/02/09. There are several other links about the (non-)story there.

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