Thursday, June 24, 2010

Media voyeurism and politicians' marriages

Gene Lyons gives us some valuable observations about one of our Pod Pundits most favoritist subjects, love affairs involving politicians (Bring on the Marital Melodrama Cagle Post 06/11/2010):

Problem is, you not only don't know public figures' intimate lives, you can't know. Maureen Dowd and Chris Matthews sure as hell don't know. What sane politician would share a private confidence with any journalist? Most pundits psychoanalyzing politician's intimate lives are simply narrating what my friend Bob Somerby of the dailyhowler.com describes a "brainless Group Novel" of their own invention, featuring imaginary characters they pretend are real, and themes revelatory of their own preoccupations.

It's backstairs gossip, nothing more.

Furthermore, it's none of their business, none of yours or mine. I fail also to see how any American who's been paying attention could think the national political press's descent into quasi-fictive celebrity journalism has been good for the country. At least Hollywood gossips Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons understood that many of their "scoops" were studio press releases thinly disguised.

In that sense, I agree with former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson's recent Washington Post column. Moved by the plight of his friend Rep. Mark Souder (the abstinence crusader), Gerson wants to know, "What does sexual conduct have to do with the qualifications for public service? ... I have known politicians who are cold, arrogant, reckless — and faithful to their spouses. And I have known politicians who have been unfaithful and served the public well."
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