Politics and privacy

I understand that it is important for the press to write stories about what the president does. That doesn’t mean that it should write stories about everything he does.

Lots of presidents have been given a pass by the press over the years. JFK was constantly tossed softballs in press conferences. The press turned a blind eye to his marital indiscretions. He had poor health much of the time, but the press didn’t run stories about that either.

FDR was unable to walk because of polio. This was an open secret as well.

We live in an age where there are fewer open secrets than in previous times. Americans are more tolerant about what kind of behaviors they hear in the news. They don’t get shocked easily. JFK’s antics were out of bounds when it came to coverage by the press. Bill Clinton’s Oval Office tryst was impeachable. Different times.

According to the news I’ve been consuming today, the president might have said something uncaring to the widow of a soldier who was killed recently in Niger. It’s not clear what he allegedly said, but it was something along the lines of “he [the soldier] knew what he was getting into.” If the president did say something like that, it paints the president as a lousy consoler. Being an insensitive jerk is not, however, an impeachable offense. It’s also something a lot of people already believed.

For the record, the president has denied the claim.

Representative Frederica Wilson, a Democrat, claims she overheard the president say this on a telephone call to the soldier’s widow. It was she who brought it to the attention of the media, and the media pounced on it like a cheetah on a gazelle. Now, this poor widow’s grief is being paraded around the news cycles, and Rep. Wilson is as responsible for that as the media is for picking the story up and giving it a gravitas it doesn’t really deserve.

This story should never have been run. This woman’s grief should be sacred, not a political tool. A lot of people should be ashamed right now.



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