Larry Craig and Abuse of Power--By the Media

The Larry Craig kerfuffle has led to some interesting reversals. Many have argued that Craig was hypocritical for being gay (though he denies it) and voting for the Defense of Marriage Act which made it so that gay marriage in one state would not have to mean gay marriage in another. I don't think that's a persuasive argument since there is no logical reason that gay people cannot oppose gay marriage. Unquestionably one group of people has been hypocritical here. Not the Republicans or the Democrats. The most hypocritical group in all this has been the self-described mainstream (actually liberal) media. In her column today, Linda Chavez is right on the money:

There is something more than a little bizarre with the latest Washington feeding frenzy over Sen. Larry Craig. Don't get me wrong. I think what Sen. Craig did in the men's bathroom in Minneapolis was gross and sleazy. But is it really worthy of the press attention it has received this week? I just can't imagine a Democratic member of Congress being subjected to the same treatment if the facts, as we know them so far, were identical. [...]If Democratic Sen. X's hypothetical arrest ever made it into the papers — doubtful, unless the senator chose to make it public — I suspect the tone of the coverage would be rather different than Sen. Craig's treatment. I can just imagine the Washington Post inveighing against police entrapment and homophobia and demanding that the private sex lives of politicians remain private unless their behavior involved an abuse of their official duties. Of course, it isn't just the media who are going after Sen. Craig. His fellow Republicans are piling on, calling for ethics investigations and, understandably, trying to distance themselves from him. Some are even asking him to resign. This has been a disaster for Republicans, whose base is far more concerned about morality and traditional values than are most Democrats. But this is all the more reason you might expect the press to be calling for a little perspective here. [...] On the one hand, the media generally regards sexual orientation as a private matter, moreover one that is morally neutral. But because Sen. Craig is a conservative, although not someone who has had a history of gay-bashing, the media have had no qualms about violating his privacy. Indeed, Craig's home newspaper, the Idaho Statesman, spent five months delving into the senator's sex life. Sen. Craig's political career is probably over. The abuse of power, however, was not Sen. Craig's but the media's, who pick and choose whose privacy they will violate on a partisan basis.

This is not merely a hypothetical. The same liberal elite (minus the New York Times which has been consistent) who are today denouncing the "deviant" Larry Craig were also the same ones who excused the aberrant sexual behavior of former president Bill Clinton. How many times were we subjected to self-righteous harangues about how investigations into whether Clinton solicited sex from subordinates (thereby cheating on his wife) were intrusions into his "personal life?" Where were today's guardians of moral and political rectitude back in 1969 when Democrat Ted Kennedy drove a car off a bridge with Mary Jo Kopechne in it? Where were the liberal media outcries to kick Democrat Barney Frank out of the Congress when he solicited a gay prostitute who in turn set up shop in his apartment? This litany could go on and on. The point remains: Democratic sexual indiscretions are OK while Republicans' are not. This double standard should not exist in a media that are as fair as they pretend to be.Update 14:19. Jonah Goldberg has some thoughts worth reading on this. Glenn Reynolds adds his and those of several other bloggers.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013