Media bashing is the favorite pastime of many Americans. I often rail against such bashing because I see that it is driven by an inclination to bash anything and everything different. But I have found that arguing against the general bashing of the media is hard to support given the level of journalism so often demonstrated. Therein lies the rub, I find myself defending the indefensible because "The Media" is too often not journalism.
Last night on the Republican Presidential Primary Debate, CNN's John King asked Mr. Gingrich, "...would you like to take some time to respond..[?] to allegations from his ex-wife Marianne Gingrich that he wanted an "open" marriage. "Would you like to take some time to respond," REALLY?!? CNN, the media outlet which probably had more to do with the taking down of the Iron Curtain than any other force in the West, THIS is a question for a Presidential Primary Debate?
I have no interest in knowing anything about Mr. Gingrich's actions in his marriages. His fidelity, or lack thereof, is not what I would consider an issue. However, his blatant hypocrisy on the issue, trumpeting "family values" while having extra-marital affairs, that has some merit as a political issue. John King's question to Mr. Gingrich however, was an entertainment media question, not worthy of any journalistic comparison.
"Was it hypocritical of you to lead the impeachment of President Clinton while you were having an affair?" That's a journalistic question.
Or, "You have admitted to numerous adulterous affairs including one to the woman you are now married. Your ex-wife has pointed out that while you were cheating on her, you were giving political speeches accusing Democrats of undermining the institution of marriage. How do you explain that hypocrisy, sir?"
Or, "In this campaign you have said you would fight for a federal ban on same sex couples being allowed to get married. How can you justify passing judgment on other people's marriage, when you're own marriages are the kind of ethical mess described by your second wife on ABC News today?"
When politicians (or want-to-be politicians) stand up for a particular principle and then in their personal life they act counter to that principle, that matters to me. That is a demonstration of a type of ethics which I am not inclined to desire in my elected officials. When politicians do not attempt to stand in judgment of my personal life, then I have no desire to know about or judge theirs. For then they are demonstrating adherence to that Libertarian ideal which I greatly admire, 'stay out of my personal life and I'll stay out of yours'. Which is to say, "Don't Tread On Me."
To discern whom we feel is most deserving of our vote, We The People require journalism. Prurient interest in an individual's sex life to feed a media entertainment industry? Bash away.
USNS Pililaau, T-AKR 304
Newport News, VA
Disclosure: I lifted the hypothetical debate questions from Rachel Maddow, as heard on her Rachel Maddow Show, Friday, 20 January, 2012.