Monday, the President ate a burger

Maybe if they’d covered the love child instead of a fast food foray, papers wouldn’t be dying

Monday, the President ate a burgerJohn Edwards’ adultery was back in the news last week. Well, okay, “back” is probably not le mot juste, given that the former presidential candidate’s mistress cum campaign videographer wasn’t exactly front-page news even in the days when he was coming a strong second in the Iowa caucuses or being tipped as a possible vice-presidential nominee. Every editor knew the “rumours” (i.e., plausible scenario with mountains of circumstantial evidence), but, unlike, say, Sarah Palin’s daughter’s ex-boyfriend’s mother’s drug bust, this wasn’t one of those stories you need to drop everything for.

Only when the hard-working lads at the National Enquirer doorstepped Senator Edwards in the basement stairwell of the Beverly Hilton after a post-midnight visit to his newborn love child and forced him to take cover in the men’s room did the Los Angeles Times swing into action. Alas, it was to instruct its writers to make no comment on a story happening right under their own sniffy noses. The editor Tony Pierce emailed as follows:

“There has been a little buzz surrounding John Edwards and his alleged affair. Because the only source has been the National Enquirer we have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations. So I am asking you all not to blog about this topic until further notified.

“If you have any questions or are ever in need of story ideas that would best fit your blog, please don’t hesitate to ask

“Keep rockin,

“Tony.”

“Keep rockin.” If only. I think we can take it as read that, if Senator Edwards were delivering his mistress’s octuplets on the editor’s desk at the Los Angeles Times office, Tony would still insist we need a couple of corroborating sources before we can run with this thing.

While no doubt grateful for the Times’ efforts, by now even the adulterer had concluded it was time to fess up to his adultery. So he admitted to an affair with Rielle Hunter, but said that he only began it after his wife’s cancer had gone into remission. Er, so that’s okay then. And he insisted the kid isn’t his. Even Oprah found that a tough one to swallow: in her interview with Elizabeth Edwards last week, she observed that there aren’t a lot of guys who jump on a plane to scoot off to some Hilton in the middle of the night to hold a baby that isn’t theirs for 10 minutes.

Like so many of daytime TV’s happy homemakers, Mrs. Edwards produced something she’d prepared earlier:

“Golly, then you don’t know that many politicians. We do it all the time. Holding babies is what we do.”

Go on, try it yourself when you’re running for office. Wander into an EconoLodge at 2 a.m., and bang on the doors till you hit some obliging mom.

I met Mrs. Edwards when she was campaigning in 2004. And, compared to her oleaginous husband, she seemed very real. Operative word: “seemed.” It’s tempting to do as Oprah did—cast her as the victim. Yet she knew the truth about his affair throughout his second run for the presidency. In Iowa, Edwards pushed Hillary into third place. Had Mrs. Clinton gone on to lose New Hampshire the following week, Democrat primary voters might have concluded Edwards was the only viable alternative to Obama, and perhaps a better bet for the general election. The one-term southern senator was running on biography—son of a mill worker, happily married, stood devotedly by his wife during her cancer—and, although the press were aware the biography was false, they decided their readers didn’t need to know that. It’s not an Edwards scandal, it’s a media scandal.

After Obama had been nominated and Edwards was history, a few press grandees conceded that yes, maybe there was a legitimate story there, but such a sordid tale was never going to tickle the fancy of their refined sensibilities. Oddly enough, this consideration never seems to come into play with, say, Mark Foley, the Florida Republican hounded from public life after some overly tender emails to one of the more fetching Congressional pages, or Larry Craig, the Republican senator caught playing some ill-advised footsie with an undercover cop in the Minneapolis airport men’s room. Admittedly, these sex scandals are less “sordid” than Senator Edwards’: for one thing, there’s no sex in them—just some unrequited cyber-billets- doux in Foley’s case, and a bit of club-footed George Michael stall-divider semaphore in Larry Craig’s. British Tories at least have the consolation of the career-detonating sex scandal; Republicans have to make do with the career-detonating no-sex scandal.

Edwards is history now, and Obama is President. And the other day he and Joe Biden visited a hamburger restaurant. In the Clinton years, the 8 a.m. news bulletin on National Public Radio would invariably begin: “The President travels today to [insert state here] to unveil his proposals on [insert issue here].” If you’ve read A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, you’ll recall that Hank Morgan, the eponymous time-travelling New Englander, was much taken by the Court Circular published each week in Camelot:

On Monday, the king rode in the park.

” Tuesday, ” ” ” ” Wednesday ” ” ”

” Thursday ” ” ”

” Friday, ” ” ”

” Saturday ” ” ”

” Sunday, ” ” ”

The NPR morning lead is the merest variant: on Monday, the king rode in the park to declaim his proposals on reduced emission standards. And the massed ranks of the press corps dutifully rode behind to scribble them down while trying to avoid the horseshit. But, when King Barack rode to the burger restaurant, there were no such policy implications: he didn’t bring along the treasury secretary to nationalize America’s cheeseburgers or Barney Frank to cancel the busboys’ bonuses. He just went to have a burger and some “tater tots.” And not one self-respecting member of the press corps thought, “Uh, do we really want to schlep across the Potomac to Virginia just to file a report on Obama eating a cheeseburger?”

So off they all galloped. In 1939, President and Mrs. Roosevelt hosted King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Hyde Park in upstate New York. Their Majesties had come down from Ottawa, accompanied by Mackenzie King, because, technically, they were visiting the U.S. in their capacity as King and Queen of Canada. Which is an arcane Commonwealth constitutional point of no interest to Americans, naturally. Instead, the point of local interest was that FDR served Their Majesties hot dogs, and much was made of the fact that this was the first time the Royal Family had ever eaten this quintessentially American delicacy. From the radio reports, it sounds like the first time for the Roosevelts, too: when Eleanor says, “Your Majesty, here is your hot dog,” she puts the emphasis on the “dog” rather than the “hot,” as if to distinguish it from a hot goat or hot mongoose. Appearing on the Rush Limbaugh Show last week, I made the observation that it had taken 70 years for American public life to turn up a fast-food photo op of similar absurdity, only now the media were marvelling not that a foreign king was passing among them and eating as ordinary mortals do but that their own citizen-president was. That’s not, to my mind, progress.

The blogger Mickey Kaus likes to distinguish between the news and the “under-news.” The “news” is what you get from your bland monodaily or your incontinence-pad-sponsored network news show; the “under-news” is what’s bubbling out there on the Internet. I can see why Obama, Edwards and others value the king-rode-in-the-park model. But it’s not clear what’s in it for America’s failing newspapers. If you’re conservative, you don’t read them because they’re biased. If you’re an informed leftie, you don’t read them because they don’t have the gleeful partisan brio of the Daily Kos or the Huffington Post. And, if you’re apolitical, you don’t read them because they’re just incredibly boring.

Throughout the ‘d’90s, from O.J. to Monica, the ethics bores of America’s journalism schools bemoaned at the drop of a New York Times commission the media’s “descent into tabloidization.” A decade on, American newspapers are dying. Really dying, I mean; not just having a spot of difficulty negotiating the transition from one distribution system to another, which is the problem faced by British, Australian, Canadian and other newspaper markets. But better to be the dead parrot’s cage liner, than the actual parrot. Which would you say was more responsible for the death of American newspapering? The “descent into tabloidization”? Or the dreary monarchical deference of American liberalism’s insipid J-school courtiers? The king rode in the park. He was riding his videographer in the shrubbery, but you don’t need to know that.

“Keep rockin,” Tony Pierce advises his writers. Why not start rockin’? Tony sounds such a cool guy, he knows all the hepcat lingo. What a shame his newspaper isn’t as groovily written as his memos. Which may be why the Los Angeles Times’ parent company has had to file for bankruptcy protection. If this crate’s a-rockin’, it’s because Tony and his chums drove it over a cliff and it’s bouncin’ on the way down.




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Monday, the President ate a burger

  1. This is a pretty good column. I have to say I . . . agree with it.

  2. What if the papers didn't cover the burger or the lovechild, but… say…. nah, it's crazy….. news?

    I know, I know, it's pretty radical…

  3. Jack agrees with a Steyn column? It's a sign of the Apocalypse! ;-)

  4. Sophia, I would suggest that the lovechild was very much news, given that a few months before this happened, Edwards was campaigning to become the Democratic nominee for the President of the United States.

    Even sleazy tabloids like the National Enquirer occasionally produce actual news.

  5. I disagree.

    I don't give a damn about the private and/or sex lives of my elected officials. Provided s/he has done nothing illegal (i.e., pedophelia) then I don't care if they are gay or straight, single or married, faithful or adulterous. I care only about things that have actual implications as to how they would govern. One's opinion, then, on multiculturalism (or free trade or bilingualism or universal health care… you get the idea.) as expressed in an essay in university is up for grabs, but one's personal life isn't, and shouldn't, be on the table.

    if "The State has no business in the bedrooms of the nation" then what business has the nation in the bedrooms of the State?

  6. Sophia, I love that Trudeau quote, and I agree with you that the private sex lives of politicians should normally be out of bounds.

    But what if the politician lies about it, and convinces other people to lie about it and cover it up? Doesn't that speak to his integrity and judgment?

  7. "How is the person as a spouse and a parent?"

    …is very often a factor that voters use to inform their vote. Yes, it is an intrusion of privacy. But are you suggesting that a man who cannot be trusted by his own wife deserves to have that lack of trustworthiness deliberately shielded from the electorate by a complicit press? The people are free to discount or ignore that information. But are you saying the people are expressly not entitled to it? To the point that a(n allegedly) free and independant press have obligations to conceal that information? Wow.

  8. I've got another one for you, from an (ostensibly) higher source than Trudeau:

    "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." -John 8:7

    I believe that that was about an adulterer, also. Well, adulteress. At any rate, yes, lying of any kind is reprehensible, especially in a public figure.

    The thing is, there have been plenty of excellent leaders with major character flaws:

    just off the top of my head,

    -Laurier was rumoured to have cheated on his wife.

    -Sir John A. was a drunkard

    -Trudeau was a bit of an arrogant bastard

    -Churchill had a drinking problem

    The list goes on.. I feel that one's personal character flaws should be a distant last on the list of reasons not to vote for someone. I don't think that his level of faithfulness should be counted against him as a politician (as a person? Hell yeah.) There were plenty of other reasons not to vote for him, and I don't feel that his private life has any reason to come into it.

  9. Sophia,

    Not that I'm an angel myself, as the avatar might suggest at that, but for those who sleep around and keep their loins about as well guarded as their notions of invading the privacy of wallets and checking accounts (all the rage these days), it would seem the appropriate thing to advocate universal health care for the pragmatic reason you're in and out of the clinics all the time, if not for some philsophical reason, or some animus against capitalism and balanced budgets.

    Some things are just not as high brow as you might think. And matters of the loins fall squarely into that category, no matter the pontifictions about penumbras of "rights" and individualism and all that sauce.

    And while you're there, no question you'll need to be conversant in more than one language these days.

    Dig?

    –Wakey

  10. If I'm looking at trustworthiness in an elected official, I'm going to look at his record: what has he promised? Has he followed through? Has he stood up for what he believes in? Has he represented the people well?

    These are all things that are up for grabs in regards to a politician.

    His sex life?

    I'm sorry, but I really think there are more important things to focus on. I'm not going to go into my "genocide, war, economic crisis" speech again, but suffice it to say, there are more important things.

  11. I'm with madeyoulook. I care very, very much if a candidate for high office is willing to break a sacred oath he made to his wife, lie to her and effectively to steal from her. A guy who would screw his wife would absolutely cornhole me without blinking.

    I do not care much about the sex, which is after a trivial friction of mucous covered tissue, but it has its importance too. I consider conduct in all parts of life, because in my judgment, someone who lacks control, or behaves obsessively or strangely in some part of his life has a mental or moral defect that will cause problems elsewhere. The defect and the problems may be minor, they may not be, but the judgment call is mine, not some lefty reporter or editor.

  12. Screw it (excuse the pun) I am going to go into my "war, genocide, economic crisis" speech again.

    I just feel that there are far more important things to worry about than the type of mustard the POTUS had or whether a politician committed the same sin that millions of men (and women) do every year, that is, failed to keep it in his pants. I mean, never mind that we're facing the worst economic crisis in decades, there's a war on, the rate of anthropogenic climate change is increasing rapidly, birth rates are skyrocketing and our planet is inching closer to the tipping point, there's a genocide in Darfur, North Korea has nuclear capabilities, the Taliban are a hair's breadth away from taking Pakistan, people all around the world are dying because of their beliefs or because they dared to speak them- let's ignore all that, because we have some manufactured scandal to obsess over!

  13. I'm with madeyoulook.

    In the biblical sense?

  14. Sophia, above and below this box you are eloquently stating what you find are important considerations for the person you will in future choose to represent you in government. That is absolutely fine. More power to you.

    Now, would you please go back to my questions of 6:21 pm?

    To refresh your memory, they had to do with the deliberate shielding of information on the trustworthiness of a candidate for high office by a complicit media, all in collusion. Trustworthiness information that may well be relevant in the minds of some voters. Not you, which is fine. But some voters. Please concentrate on the "people are expressly not entitled to it" and "press have obligations to conceal" parts. I am truly interested in your thoughts on that.

  15. myl,

    Would it be newsworthy if he used a condom and there was no baby?

  16. In defence of the editor in question, the National Enquirer isn't known for being an especially reputable source.

    If a reputable news team has validated the information, then they are free to publish it, and are under no obligation to conceal it. Freedom of the press is one of the most important rights we have.

    However, if they prefer to focus on world events, or the policy differences between candidates, or the economy, instead of on people's personal lives, then that is also their right.

    I just wish that there was a bit more of the former and a bit less of the latter.

  17. The State has no business in the bedrooms of the nation?? I think we kinda surrendered on that one awhile back. Ever heard of a "common law" relationship? That's when the State tells you you're married even when you aren't. I supposed if you wanted to prove you aren't in a "common law" relationship you might have to prove how you don't share bodily fluids, you just share the bills.

    Or how about the guy in Quebec, who when trying to renew his gun license was asked on the form if he'd broken up with a girlfriend or wife recently?

    It's a nice thought that the State should have no business in the bedrooms of the nation…but hardly something to presuppose as fact.

  18. Dot, would it be newsworthy to know that the dude is so stupid he did not consider using a condom to avoid the later appearance of a baby?

    Sophia, I appreciate your embrace of freedom of expression. I share it.

    And I wish I could follow you along this righteous path of avoidance of gutter gotcha politics among the nation's news media, all excellent, and whose decisions on the un-newsworthiness of certain personal details having nothing at all whatsoever to do with the politcial leanings of the candidate in question. Of course, then there is Planet Earth.

  19. It's too bad that you're so cynical, myl.

    If it makes you feel any better, I would believe the same thing were the implicated spouse John McCain or Stephen Harper.

    Smut is smut- and suprisingly non-partisan.

  20. Sophia, you have to start from this premise – there is a base for both parties in the US, say 45% for each party, give or take, based upon whatever (hopefully policies).

    So, the election is really over getting the last 5% out of the 10% – the swing voters. For people like myl, this is, apparently an issue – so much so that they have discarded completely their oft stated libertarian ideology on this issue (ie in the private sector, it is your choice not to report an issue, and if you don't, someone else will).

    So, rest assured, you are probably within the 90% of the electorate who don't really care. Unfortunately, it is the nutters who often dominate the discussion on these types of issues in the media and elsewhere.

  21. A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.

    Rudyard Kipling

    To paraphrase the wise one

    A good Hamburger is only Burger.

    But a spin for the plebs is a vote to tease.

  22. This is neat: Sophia, Dot AND Fred are all misreading my position. From opposite ideological ends of the spectrum. So, um MYL, if everyone doesn't get what you're saying, maybe it's not everyone, maybe it's you. So:

    Fred & Dot: don't assume that I personally care. Maybe I do, maybe I don't, I am not even sure myself how much or little that detail would factor into my decision on a vote. What I would resent is a widespread decision-by-collusion within the media that I and my fellow voters were not entitled to evidence of poor judgment and an abdication of trustworthiness. Which was pretty much my point, even on re-reading my comments (well, ok, except for a gratuitous wrap-that-rascal dig at John Edwards), and also happened to be the point of Steyn's essay.

    Sophia: You are free to call me cynical. But your equitable nonpartisan feelings don't matter so much as the prevailing wisdom (for want of a better word) of the media folk. Did you follow the latest USA presidential election? A little innuendo about McCain and a certain female not married to him, when ultimately there was no there, there? The NYT had no qualms playing that up. How much or little it mattered, I am not sure. But the voters were apparently entitled to know all the innuendo. Don't get me started on the microscopic proctological examination of the immediate and extended Palin families. Edwards? Shhh! Be vewy vewy qwiet… And, if it floats your boat, you can call it cynical to suggest that the obvious partisan leanings of the majority of participants in the media might have contributed to this rather unbalanced filtering going on. Or you could look around and pay attention.

  23. What I would resent is a widespread decision-by-collusion within the media that I and my fellow voters were not entitled to evidence of poor judgment and an abdication of trustworthiness.

    How about if he hired Filipino nannies to assist his wife and he asked them to cut his grass, blow dry his hair? Media worthy? Senate investigation?

  24. Sophia, I just want to respond to this quote:

    "If I'm looking at trustworthiness in an elected official, I'm going to look at his record: what has he promised? Has he followed through? Has he stood up for what he believes in?"

    … to have and to hold until death do you part, I believe, was the question inevitably posed to Mr. Edwards. My gut says he said 'I do'. That's a pretty serious promise. I think that a man campaigning on family man angle,should know better than to compromise the basic message of his campaign.

  25. I followed it, yes, and it disgusted me.

    It is always a shame when we collectively drag ourselves into the political gutter: that was kinda my point in my original comment, that this… stuff.. shouldn't be news, or at the very least should not be in the 'news' section of the newspaper. Politicians aren't celebrities, and they aren't gods, they're people. They make mistakes, they have weird connections, they mess up royally. They're allowed to.

    Maybe, myl, the world is cynical.

    *sigh*

  26. brick- it's a big deal for him as a person, and for his family. I cannot begin to fathom why someone would betray their family like that.

    But.

    It has no bearing on how he would do as a politician.

    All I'm going to look at is: has he kept the promises he made to the electorate?

    Has he done his duty as their representative?

    Has he done the right thing as a politician?

    That's all that should have any bearing on his electability.

  27. If he is being a creepy boss, possibly abusive, possibly breaking the law:

    DEFINITELY needs an investigation by authorities. DEFINITELY newsworthy, if anything comes of that. DEFINITELY an item for campaign opponents to exploit, if verifiably true.

    Senate investigation? Pfffffft.

  28. They are NOT gods, then?

    You're pulling our leg, Sophie.

    Ah, but the gods walk among us.

    Now you're right that we should rather pay more attention to the eating of Ambrosia than Dijon mustard (I like Dijon myself–but not on a hamburger).

    But I find it rather…..ODD….that we are treated to all manner of distraction (and yes, the mustard caper was one, to be sure..) and YET…YET…..the little town of Wasilla where liveth the Chillbilly and her pregnant daughter apparently were fair game of NOT just some outlet of semi-journalists at the Enquiror who pass the time thinking of ways to crop the next photo of Fishboy and Bigfoot, but the so-called "mainstream" media.

    Happily for the health of the Republic, we know everything about Palin and her family just shy of how many times young Bristol has done the horizontal worm dance herself with that dreg of a boyfriend, what kind of coffee they drink, how many snowmobiles her husband owns, and of course nifty pics of her on her fanny and shorts in a wad in a highschool basketball game as Sarah Barracuda.

    Oh yes, and the place was crawling with lawyers when Wasilla had its population doubled to satisfy the Obama campaign's thirst for dirt.

    Try to dig up some (and there's a hell of a lot of it) on the Dear Leader, and you'll find yourself going from "editor of major newspaper" to the new job description of "will work for food and can clean flower beds out really well" very quickly.

    Maybe, in a way, we NEED the dreg reportage of N.E. and other tabloids.

    They are non-discriminatory diggers, eh?

  29. So, in the case of infidelity, where are the allegations that he was: " being a creepy boss, possibly abusive, possibly breaking the law"?

    You simply want your National Inquirer and your NY Times on the same site, for free. Here's a tip: If you can't find it for free, pay for it, or look elsewhere. No one is stopping you. It's your choice.

    You are simply trying to impose YOUR ethical standards on everyone else. Which I find extremely hypocritical, given your long history on this blogsite.

  30. Dot, Dot, Dot. I answered your question about hiring Filipino nannies, and you are nailing me for failing in that particular response to discuss infidelity? You are usually above that sort of twisted logic, given your long history on this blogsite.

    I only poked my head up to clarify Sofia's vociferous and eloquent "don't care" to make sure that wasn't a call to censor the media. I was also hoping to get Sofia to allow that other citizens might be permitted to factor infidelity in their decision making. I am not sure I got her that far. So be it.

    And I believe it's "Enquirer." Not Inquirer. At least, that's what my friends tell me.

  31. Steyn has written another great column. Anyone who still claims that the media is not liberally biased is a crank. The treatment of Edwards compared to Palin or McCain is blatant evidence of bias. The media went our of their way not to investigate Edwards, while at the same time concocting stories about McCain's relationship and deconstructing the relationship of Palin's daughter, while investigating the birth of Palin's down syndrome child.

    As for the discussion about whether this is news, it surely is. Running around on your wife is a rather strong indicator of dishonesty and callousness. If Edwards had won the presidency, who would have been the first lady? His wife or his significant other? I can just imagine him climbing out of a white house window to hook up with his lover. Is it so much to ask that the president is not a slimy stinking philanderer? That's something that has some bearing. How would you expect him to respect the rights of Americans if he cannot honour his vows to his wife?

  32. I don't think Edwards believes he made a mistake, or that he messed up.

    And while I would not hire a banker with a gambling problem, or a bartender with a drinking problem, I would also not vote for a president with a philandering problem.

  33. They leftist media played the hypocrisy angle to justify going after the private lives of several "oh-so-moral" republican creeps.

    But Edwards plays a "devoted family man" scam throughout his campaign, and suddenly "private lives" are no ones business?

    This isn't just bias, its dishonest, self-delusional thinking.

  34. And Barack Obama and Rahm Emmanuel are sitting in the Oval Office laughing themselves sick at what they consider your small minded criticisms because they knows that no matter what The Beloved Leader Barack Obama says, does, or signs off on, none of your criticism will ever touch him.

  35. Not reporting = censoring the media?

    What's next? Are you going to force KFC to make Big Macs?

  36. The reason that the media was not able to cover John Edward's sordid little tryst and its aftermath is because it had to use its shrinking operating budget to place 800 reporters in Alaska to harass Sarah Palin's hairdresser and another 500 in Ohio to determine if Joe the Plumber had a plumbing contractor's license.No one can ever say that the liberal chattering class misses the real ssues

  37. Has it ever occured to you that some people feel that incursions into a politican's private life is uunacceptable, irrespective of part affilitation?

  38. "Anyone who still claims that the media is not liberally biased is a crank."

    God, sf, you really have only one tone, eh? The foghorn.

    Actually there are large numbers of people who feel the media is biased towards the right; and when there are large numbers of people who think something, they are not cranks (statistically).

  39. Then these wretched politicians should stop using their families as political props. No one is more loyal to his family than I am, but I swear the use of the word "family" in our political discourse makes me want to gag. "Our thoughts are with you, and your family." As though people don't have families and can't stand on their own two feet! It's the same disgusting cynicism every time.

  40. It matters to me whether or not a polician is a faithful family man. It may not to people like Sophia and that's fine.

    But for me, it is a huge basis on how I judge people. If you cannot be honest and faithful to your wife then how the hell can I trust you to be the same to me.

  41. Well, since the McCain campaign didn't vet Palin, the media had to do it for them.

  42. Yeah, there is nothing like an impassioned defence of Mark Foley and Larry Craig to sway the mind and stir the heart.

  43. Well and this was precisely what the Palin thing was about – she didn't mind using her children as political props, but she recoiled at the thought of someone else doing it, in a way she didn't approve of.

    This all goes to the larger issue of, should we care about the personal lives of politicians, and frankly, I do not. Some of our greatest leaders were drunks, philanderers, liars, and cheats, and some thoroughly disastrous politicians were upstanding citizens.

  44. Ah, so in keeping with that, you would agree that people interviewing for a job should have to reveal their relationship history, as well as any infidelity and/or adultery? After all, we wouldn't want employers hiring someone who cheated on their wife. And if they're hired and found out later, they should be fired instantly.

  45. I'm all for this being no one's business but the parties involved. However, for sexual pecadilloes and other personal … um … quirks to be a non issue, they have to be a non issue for member of all parties not just the one favoured by the media. The problem here is not so much that Edwards and even more so, Obama, got a free pass but the fact that while they got a pass, Sarah Palin (whether you like her not) got no similar break from this same media, whatsoever. The media was more interested in who was Palin's grandkid's "actual" mother and Joe the Plumber's tax returns than Edwards' very real screwing around or Obama spending 20+ years listening to the nonsense spewed by Jeremiah Wright.

  46. "But Father,…why does the King have no clothes on?"

  47. Superb. That did make me feel better.

  48. She was actually quite well vetted. Just not by a media that was looking for parking tickets v actual political decisions and production. She is the only reason I checked the "top box" on my ballot. Certainly wasn't McCain.

  49. So you're saying McCain knew all the stuff about her and *still* picked her? Jesus.

    I guess I should be grateful, she did provide a great many hours of comedy. And promises to continue in the future, with the release of her book and whatnot. Sarah Palin – the comedic gift that keeps on giving.

  50. It's a good thing Steyn isn't a member of the media, or your point would be disproven right there.

  51. I only poked my head up to clarify Sofia's vociferous and eloquent “don't care” to make sure that wasn't a call to censor the media. I was also hoping to get Sofia to allow that other citizens might be permitted to factor infidelity in their decision making. I am not sure I got her that far. So be it.

    Dude- publish it. Go ahead. You can publish whatever you like and the people can read whatever they like.

    However, I just think that that should not be in the news section of the newspaper. Gossip and personal stuff, if the demand is there, should still be in the sections allocated to them.

    Steyn suggested that if newspapers covered the lovechild instead of a burger, the ndustry would not be dying.

    I suggest that if they covered genocide and climate change instead of the burger or the lovechild, they would not be dying.

  52. You have to bear in mind that Steyn is a big fan of 70's porn films.

  53. Hear hear. But I suppose we are doomed to low-grade-soap-opera-style politics, given that most voters do not take the responsibilities of citizenship seriously.

  54. Barrak Obama was given a free pass by the media.

    He still hasn't provided a birth certificate to prove he was born in the States

    His dealings with Tony Rezco

    His dealings with ACORN

    William Ayers and belonging to a bigoted church

    His lack of experience to be President while the media was all over Palin's experience.

  55. *pops head up*

    Did someone say citizenship?

    *ducks*

  56. You neglected to give us your spiel about $1.95/vote, MYL. Which, btw, I endorse. But while every citizen has, legally, an equal right to vote for anyone on the ballot they please, for whatever reason, even to accrue state cash for said candidate's party, legally, well — morally they should pick the best person for the job, right? And I fail to see why being married to a beautiful / handsome spouse, having adorable children, going to Church every Sunday, tapdancing, having a friendly dog, or whatever the hell else we're supposed to vote for on the basis of "lifestyle," is any less destructive to the fundamental duty of selecting capable people to lead us than the cash-for-vote schtick is. So, please include "lifestyle voting" (aka "you and your family") in your future rants about citizenship and the $1.95/vote.

  57. Why is philandering any more harmful than a drinking problem, hopeless arrogance, or an authoritarian streak?

    Any guesses on which politician I am referencing here?

    ….

    Winston Churchill.

  58. How stupid are you, really? The socialist philosophy DOES NOT WORK! Putin said it himself, "Don't go there". The media can make God look like a retard through editing, and you slam Palin. She is far more conservative, and that's what we need. You cannot spend your way out of debt, and TEH ONE™ has tripled the debt we already HAD!.Or is it quadrupled? When it gets to numbers that big, they become abstract anyway.

  59. And all of the real executive experience she actually had. Mayor, Governor, etc., heck of a lot better than "community organizer" for a communist agency.

  60. Something may. BC, something. Legal, something. Remember your Oath of Enlistment? REMEMBER YOUR OATH OF ENLISTMENT! ALL enemies, foreign AND DOMESTIC!

  61. To say the media is biased is not to say every single journalist in the world is biased. Does this disclaimer require repeating?

    Do you have an explanation for the disparity between the fact that the majority of the media simply refused to investigate Edwards for any reason, yet they seem to have no problem investigating the children of Palin?

  62. I already knew that you were a crank.

  63. Heck, the Democrats nearly picked Edwards. Jesus.

  64. As one commenter noted blow, even Joe the Plumber was investigated. Yet somehow nobody noticed Edwards was doing the hanky-panky in hotel rooms with a mistress.

  65. "Crank" being the new synonym for "thinks sf is too fat."

  66. I was mad during the US election, also. Mostly because I felt that, as with Edwards, there were genuine issues the public could have with Palin, and very few of them were even tenuously linked to her family life.

    I live in a pacifist state of fury. ;)

  67. Judging by the coherence you're able to muster in your post here, I'm not surprised that Palin is a favourite of yours. That doesn't detract from the fact that she's dumber than a pancake, a fact that needs no embellishment through clever editing.

    But like I said, she does provide excellent comic fodder for the rest of us, so by all means – let's keep her around.

  68. The Democrats nearly picked Edwards, really? Remind me, In his two Presidential runs, how many primaries did Edwards win?

    May as well claim that Ron Paul almost won the Republican nomination.

  69. Sarah Palin would have to improve her ability to construct a meaningful sentence to reach an IQ of 90.

  70. Does it worry you then that way more people voted for Obama than GWB? Communists!

  71. Her IQ is clearly higher than yours. And Obama's.

  72. Yeah, Obama got 53% and Bush got 51%. Way more.

  73. 2% of the American population is actually a substantial amount of people.

    217.8 million Americans are eligible to vote.

    4 356 000 more Americans voted for Obama than Bush.

  74. Can't report the unsexy – unfunded pensions, retiree healthcare, can't report sexy – about John Edwards, President Obama's prior drug use, crazy preacher, odd mother. Sarah Palin and family – ducks in a barrel.

    I don't know if I would like the lovely Gov if the MSM didn't hate her so much, don't think I'll find out from a fair approach from Katie Couric, et al.

    God Save the Queen, Canada, and the Carolina Hurricanes!

  75. Are you applying for the position of peeping tom? We'll need to hear more about your specific experience before forwarding your application.

  76. Why anyone bothers with you at all is beyond me.

    53 + 51 = ?

  77. Two weeks of your allowance?

  78. 53 + 51 = …

    … less than double the number of states Obama thought he had campaigned through.

    I know, I know. Sometimes I can't help myself.

  79. Yeah, clearly. Her high IQ must be the reason she attended four world-renowned educational institutions in the span of 5 years to earn her prestigious B.A. in Journalism. Who among us could count such prestigious schools as Matanuska-Susitna College, Hawaii Pacific College, and North Idaho College as places we've seen the inside of?

    Obama, on the other hand, merely went to Harvard Law, and even in this slacker institution known for loose admission standards and a casual work ethic, he was barely elected the president of the Law Review, a feat that, for example, even the lazy-ass Chief Justice of the Supreme Court didn't manage in his time at that party school.

    No, our Sarah put her blindingly high IQ to better uses than trivialities such attending elite educational institutions and learning about the country she hopes to run – she honed her skills at murdering animals from airplanes, cooking chilli, and raising abstinent children who get knocked up extra-maritally at 17.

  80. Obama got 69.5 million votes and Bush got 62 million (in 2004). I'd say that's "a lot more".

  81. Two words: affirmative action. Without it, Harvard never would have happened for Obama.

  82. James Connors, I really hope you were joking. But it wasn't funny.

    Sophia, 2% is less than the margin of error for most polls. When the difference is 2%, you could have the vote one week and again the next and get a different result each time. If you are actually gonna argue that 2% is a wide margin, it shows how partisan you are.

    As for nd, it's obvious he or she is a hyperventilating partisan, and incapable of being objective in the slightest manner.

  83. No.

  84. There are many problems with newspapers, and they afflict the English ones where I live in Hong Kong, but not the Chinese ones. I think this is because the half dozen Chinese dailies here (pop 7 million) have not fallen prey to political correctness, which Mark raised as a problem for expanding circulation. Chinese news papers are rollicking looking for exciting. They have even been known to bribe cops to get it.

    The English newspapers here are more responsible and responsiblity will be the death of them. Both left and right do not read newspapers because both know what newspapers are going to say on any issue. So why go through the trouble of lugging this thing around and reading it when it tells you nothing new that you care about. Either you don't care about, or its nothing new.

    One of the contributors the comments on Mark's column made a commendable point that we should not be too hard on the frailties of politicians given that few of us are without sin. But she missed Mark's point that the journalistic finger- wagging is asysmetrical, scandals on the right or explored at length and in depth,. But the scandals of the left are ducked. Only the Wall Street Journal editorial page was going on about the scandals in the Clinton White House for years.

    Only when the Monica case ended up before a grand jury did the predominating left-liberal press take up the story.

    Another aspect is gender, which no one wants to address unless its is done in politically correct terms. Newspapers as objects are appreciated mostly by men over 40 and mostly over 50, yet the pitch for the last 30 years has been increasingly attract thirtysomething females. What's more, editorial departments are being filled up with living representatives of the target – as yet unattainable – readership. Women – as politically incorrect as it is – are chiefly interested by volume in things that touch their bodies. Sex, recipies and disease was the old women's page formula. That formula has since spread to much of the newspaper, turning off men over 40, mostly over 50 who are the newspapers natural readers.

    Today, wars are covered not from the basis of winning and losing, but from the pain they cause and from the hospital wards. Because women cover wars, wars have become too dangerous to cover. Unlike World War II, where correspondents ran around the battle, shouting, "Anyone here from Toronto!?", reporters now move from hotel room to press conference salon and back again.

    We no longer get the usual throughput of politics from legislatures and courts. Crime is not and exciting phenomenon, but a social problem. Stories have to have a moral issue. They must be magazinized. Little bits and pieces spotted here and there that used to to brighten a newspaper reader's experience are now gathered into columns called briefs (virtually labelled unimportant), because they fit better in the dsign of the design-driven newspaper.

    Newspapers can be saved. But they must die and we must rid ourselves of the girls, gays and gelding who run them.

  85. If the Chinese newspapers in Hong Kong are the model for the future of the western press, we're all in trouble. I can't read Chinese myself, but friends from mainland China tell me that they are basically just trashy tabloids full of gossip. The lack of political discourse, discussion of legal rights, etc. probably has lots to do with the country they live within, where censorship reigns in a one party state, notwithstanding "one country, two systems."

  86. Can't report the unsexy – unfunded pensions, retiree healthcare

    On this, we agree.

  87. I thought Palin was over-rated until the MSM started in on whether she was the mother of her child, whether Todd Palin might not have raped his own daughter, and whether Bristol Palin might not have gotten pregnant if she'd been told about contraceptives. Once I saw the virulence of their animosity, I knew she was ok.

    The MSM is like an unerring compass. Whomever they hate is doing something right. Whomever they respect is a sleazebag. It's actually kind of a useful thing to have in a society where most of us can't get to know the prospective leaders personally.

    Must have been tough for McCain thinking he was always going to receive royal treatment… and only belatedly realizing that this only applied while he was opposing Republicans.

  88. Today, wars are covered not from the basis of winning and losing, but from the pain they cause and from the hospital wards. Because women cover wars, wars have become too dangerous to cover. Unlike World War II, where correspondents ran around the battle, shouting, “Anyone here from Toronto!?”, reporters now move from hotel room to press conference salon and back again.

    Wow.

    Really?

    Maybe it's because we have grown as a society and seen that even justifiable wars (and I include Afghanistan in that group) have a certain amount of moral ambiguity, that it's not just a matter of black and white, and that both sides suffer losses. I see no problem with highlighting the cost of the war- the sacrifices that our brave men and women make, most of them young, the strain put on families when the unspeakable happens- all of these arelegitimate topics of discussion when one is talking about war. Also, I believe that the many female war correspondents who risk their lives to get a story would disagree with you.

    Newspapers can be saved. Agreed.

    But they must die and we must rid ourselves of the girls, gays and gelding who run them.

    How does the sexuality or gender of journalists, photojournalists and editors make any difference? Newspapers publish what their readership wants to read- it's why you won't find many stories about the plight of coal miners in Cape Breton in the Brantford Expositor or many about loggers in British Columbia in the Cape Breton Post

    Crime is not and exciting phenomenon, but a social problem.

    That may have something to do with the numerous sociological studies that have shown that people turn to crime because of deep-rooted social problems such as poverty, unemployment, addiction, abuse, etc.

    We cannot eliminate crime simply by punishing the perpetrators- that's like plucking the head of a dandelion in the hopes that the plant will die. We have to dig deeper, to continue the simile, and find the root causes and eliminate them.

  89. What if said politician is selling himself as faithful and devoted husband? Is it not of interest, important to know that he is a sleazy two timer and liar to boot?

    Derek

  90. And they have the ability to take everything you own. And they can declare wars. They can direct that laws be written to make you and your opinion and associates illegal until the supreme court stops them. They are backed with people with guns.

    And you don't want to know, or don't think we should consider important, whether they have the personal self control to keep their pants on, or the ability to keep an oath to their wife, or the ability to tell the truth?

    I agree that these things in context may be meaningless.Great legislators with great accomplishments and respected opinions have done similar things and maintained respect and even adulation. But vapid attention seekers with carefully polished public personas don't deserve respect unless they earn it. And screwing around on your wife while preening yourself on your faithfulness as a husband deserves any humiliation that comes your way.

    These people are seeking great power. I don't trust them unless they prove to me otherwise.

    Derek

  91. It's symptom of the same disease.

    I often have helpers working with me. I ask them to do something simple and straightforward. They often turn it into something complicated and not what I need or want. I say to them 'don't think, just do what I said'.

    The same with journalists. Don't think, you aren't qualified. Just tell me what happened.

    They are overthinking. Trying to parse what is important/newsworthy and what is not. They can't know. Just tell me what happened. I don't pay them to think.

    Derek

  92. A hyperventilating partisan, says the man (or woman) who thinks that Obama only got into Harvard Law because of affirmative action. You're the very picture of balanced thinking on the issue, sf. My hat's off to you.

  93. Yeah, maybe if Obama had played the affirmative action card, he could have gotten into North Idaho College like Palin.

  94. nd,

    You cheeky little blighter…

    Since when did having things handed to you qualify as real world experience?

    Obama is not qualified to change the oil on a damned lawnmower. He is a big baby.

    When it comes to the fact that Obama had the skids greased for him his entire life, and does not have so much as the requisite experience to run a hotdog stand but now uses Alinksy radicalism to deign to tell CEOs how to run entire corporations, I'd say the comparision to the Snowbilly is a draw–with an edge to Palin for at least:

    1) not having a hateful attitude to the nation of her birth.

    2) the cultural confidence required to ward off the Cloud Cuckooland multi culti assaults from the left as much as from people who use human heads for decoration.

    Harvard is not what it once was.. A place for learning and getting a larger perspective on life rather than a clearing house for the next generation of cornball professors and/or journalists who are mad at capitalist society for not needing their expertise in unravelling what might be left of Western Culture.

    Your best hope for Obama, before he decides that the Hugo Chavez methodology of managing the economy and deciding that my buying beer or oysters is not quite high brow enough for the commonweal plan for nationalized economics turns real, is for theorectical physics to find a way to resurrect his hippy dippy moma. From there, I'm quite sure that "stanley" will use her charm and panache as an anthropologist to remind little Bambi that yes, son, even in OUR culture, when you mentors and friends and chums and radical pals are not spreading more grease on the rails and the media is not fawning over the Dear Leader, it IS probably that at some point you'll run into a magical, character-building word in the English languange (and common at that, other than for Bambi) called:

    "NO."

  95. ND: Obama needed affirmative action to get into Columbia, his marks were not good enough (this is undisputed). Without the foot in the door at Columbia, he would have ended up at a state college, and Harvard would have been a pipe dream.

    Sophia, watch the polls, or even watch any sequence of elections in any country. Notice how a swing of 2% can happen in an instant.

    I never found math to be especially partisan.

    Haven't you heard the expression: Lies, damned lies, and statistics? Exhibit A, is this discussion.

  96. Absolutely. The same can be said for the newspapers in Singapore, another place where reporting that is critical of the state is forbidden. Ask the Wall Stree Journal.

  97. the numerous sociological studies that have shown that people turn to crime because of deep-rooted social problems such as poverty, unemployment

    None of those studies have any scientific rigor whatsoever. You are dreaming. This is the place where what people want to believe is what they tend to believe – instead of the truth.

    Studies that focus on actual statistics and numbers show the opposite, that crime shows absolutely no adherence to wealth or class. I could point you to dozens.

    Ask Bernie Madoff. Ask Chuck Guite. Look at most of the countries in the world, where crime is most concentrated in the ruling class, and where the underclass cannot depend on their judicial institutions. There is no evidence whatsoever that crime is predominantly associated with poverty or unemployment.

    On the other hand, there are lots of studies linking crime with drug addiction, naturally because people will do anything to get their next fix.

  98. Buddy, I cited you facts, not statistics.

    Once again, for your benefit:

    Obama, 69.5 million votes

    Bush (2004), 60 million votes

    What about this concept is giving you difficulty?

  99. Maybe if Palin was black, she would have been accepted at Colombia and Obama would have been at Idaho.

    Clarence Thomas, supreme court justice:

    "I'd learned the hard way that a law degree from Yale meant one thing for white graduates and another for blacks, no matter how much anyone denied it," Thomas writes in his memoir. "I'd graduated from one of America's top law schools, but racial preference had robbed my achievement of its true value." To this day, he has kept a "15 cents" sticker from a cigar package stuck to his diploma, "to remind myself of the mistake I'd made by going to Yale."

    Shortly after he arrived at the law school, Thomas writes, he realized that "blacks who benefited from [affirmative action admissions] were being judged by a double standard." As a result, Thomas writes, his law degree was basically worthless, since it "bore the taint of racial preference."

  100. First of all ND, your complete ignorance of growth in population and growth in overall voters. Secondly, your complete refusal to compare to any historical benchmark in terms of percentages, instead of clinging to raw numbers like a fool.

    Take any country in the world, idiot, and notice that the raw number of votes being obtained by the winner increases over time, because of population growth!

  101. ND, either you are incredibly stupid, or incredibly biased, or both.

  102. Studies that focus on actual statistics and numbers show the opposite, that crime shows absolutely no adherence to wealth or class. I could point you to dozens.

    Please do.

    In the mean time, I point you to where in the country the highest rates of violent crime are:

    Winnipeg: lowest 10% of the population has a median income of 11,429

    Saskatoon:$9,600

    Regina:11,303

    Nunavut:5,541

    Northwest Territories: 6,324

    Newfoundland&Labrador:7,706

    Vancouver:$8,700

    Even this incredibly unscientific way of looking at it suggests at least some correlation.

  103. Sf, your stupidity appears to be unbounded, but then again what was I expecting from a man claiming that Palin must be smarter than Obama.

  104. I bet he wishes he'd gone to Matanuska-Susitna College. They've provided a significant number of Supreme Court Justices, I hear.

  105. Exactly right – either family and personal relationships are off-limits for ALL people running for office, or they should be covered by ALL media. The picking and choosing of the MSM only serves to create mis-trust of the media. I stopped believing anything that the media tell me about something because their agendas are so obvious. It is one more reason that MSM is fast becoming irrelevant to many people – I don't think that is necessarily a good thing – I would like to believe that trained journalists are unbiased, but the more they claim that they are, the more obvious it is that they are not. even as they try to backpedal on positions.

  106. It was a pretty good column, well written. Trouble is i have no idea if it's true.

  107. Wakefield Tolbert

    Is that you Steyn?

  108. My comment triggered moderation, so I'll post without the links.

    I found links that indicated studies showing no link between wealth and happiness, studies linking the welfare state and crime, a study showing income equality is not an indicator of crime but heterogeneity is.

    I think there are many studies that conclude that some (but not all) of the behaviours that lead to poverty are the behaviours that lead to higher crime levels. Therefore, there is no causative link between poverty and crime, but instead they are both the result of poor behavioural and life choices (pregnancy out of wedlock, for instance, is a huge indicator of poverty). However, there are a number of other behaviours that also result in crime. Most violent crime is completely independent of income – some of it is caused by relationship problems and abusive homes, some of it is exacerbated by a lack of policing in areas with large numbers of delinquent youths, much crime is the result of mental illness or psychopathic behaviour, much crime is the result of drug abuse and other addictions, and so on.

    Regarding your figures, I think if poverty and crime were linked, then the maritimes would be the most crime-ridden areas in Canada, because they have always had the highest poverty levels. But they are not.

  109. Yup, that's steyn all right. By turns witty, pithy, opinionated, crude and as always…dead wrong.

  110. Mark, Mark, Mark. Children, children, children. Are we really surprised to find the DC media pool on bended knees raptly awaitng their next tea-bagging from the Obamessiah?! Is anyone surprised to see the dinosaur-media not only following the Annointed Ones, but gleefully stepping in – and saving for their later delectation and contemplation – the effluent?! Is anyone who is familiar with the LA Times Advertiser shocked, shocked by the suggestion that remaining staff should avoid reporting the news?! Oh. Really?? You are?? Rock on!!

  111. Christy. Sweetheart.

    You must be an avid reader/critic of my hometown "news"paper the LA Times Advertiser. Since the mid-80's or so, the viewpoint of the news supplement has been as carefully selected by issues of gender, victimization, conformity of thought, maintenance of the accepted general wisdom as defined by an insular community and freedom from competing view-points. The only real editorial discussion has been which fair -traded herb tea to select for the day's brewing.

    Your points on the feminization of viewpoint are valid for the larger society. The de-emphasis of masculinity and feminity are supplanted by the emphasis on maleness and femaleness. Concerning war correspondents, a lot of women and gays are as hard-charging as any old-fashioned editor or subscriber would want, The limitation on the reportage has been primarily from editorial desks.

    I hope your ciews might prevail, but as the great urban philosopher Steve Martin once said, Naaaaaaaah!"

  112. Another aspect is gender, which no one wants to address unless its is done in politically correct terms. Newspapers as objects are appreciated mostly by men over 40 and mostly over 50, yet the pitch for the last 30 years has been increasingly attract thirtysomething females. What's more, editorial departments are being filled up with living representatives of the target – as yet unattainable – readership. Women – as politically incorrect as it is – are chiefly interested by volume in things that touch their bodies. Sex, recipies and disease was the old women's page formula. That formula has since spread to much of the newspaper, turning off men over 40, mostly over 50 who are the newspapers natural readers.

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