Just in time to save the media industrial complex, two scandal-scarred politicians, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer, jumped into races for New York City Mayor and New York City Comptroller (respectively). Naturally, the media pounced (does it do any other action verb in situations like this?). Much ink was spilled over the temerity of these two men to run for elective office. The former, brought down low by a bizarre Twitter scandal involving semi-chaste ‘sexting’ type behavior; the latter, an actual law breaker who paid money for sex (but kept his socks on, in case you were wondering) have both been adjudged by some in the media as unworthy of the public’s trust and while that may well be the case, I don’t recall anyone nominating the media to be the arbiter of propriety when it comes to who we pick to represent us.
Indeed, the negative reaction to Weiner and Spitzer belies a larger issue at work in today’s journalistic circles – its inclination toward lowest common denominator reporting that feels like some combination of Mean Girls and school marm. Reporters are entitled to their opinions, but unless those are being expressed on the opinion page of their newspaper or website, the citizenry is perfectly capable of (and indeed, constitutionally designated) choosing people to represent them. In fact, because of the comprehensive reporting done of these scandals when they happened, it is impossible to think that voters in New York City are unaware of the actions of these two men and have (and will) factor that behavior in to deciding whether or not to vote for either candidate.
Short of some legal impediment that bars a person from running for office, the media is best served by sticking to the candidates’ positions on issues and avoiding substituting their own morality for that of the electorate. Surely, in a country where voters are getting disenfranchised at the state level, abortion rights are being restricted, and our economy continues to limp through a tepid recovery, there are more important things to focus on than WeinerSpitzer.