Saturday, February 6, 2010

The New York Times Channels Its Inner National Enquirer: To Run Story on Gov. Paterson Adultery

The New York Times, masquerading as the National Enquirer, is supposedly waiting to run a story describing alleged adultery by Governor David Paterson. At least one member of Paterson's staff has already launched a preemptive strike against the yet unpublished story.

The fact that these types of stories are newsworthy and potentially career-ending astonishes me. Paterson and his wife have already stated that they both have had sex with other people during the course of their marriage. So what is the big deal?

Adultery is illegal in New York, but this law is rarely enforced, and it is likely unconstitutional. It is only a Class B misdemeanor, along with "crimes" like fortune telling and loitering. "Consensual sodomy" was on the list until 2000 when the Supreme Court held that these types of laws violate the Constitution. The same logic imperils adultery and (definitely) fornication laws. This law does not make Paterson's alleged adultery newsworthy.

After John McCain secured the Republican presidential nomination, the New York Times revived smutty stories from the distant past regarding rumors of infidelity and ethical violations concerning McCain. After receiving so many complaints, the paper published a notice to readers denying that the article ever stated that McCain had in fact committed adultery or engaged in any ethical misconduct -- even though the article focused solely upon "rumors" that he had. The New York Times also made Elliot Spitzer's sexual conduct a cottage industry -- competing with Nancy Grace for sensationalism and prurience. Apparently, the paper is at it again.


LETICIA said...

The only possible defense I can give for giving such attention to politicians' extramarital affairs is this: If a politician is unfaithful in their personal life, they're likely to be unfaithful(in a different way) while representing their constituents. Even so, I do agree that this stuff does get in the way of other, more important matters that affect our daily lives.

Matt P. said...

Bravo Darren. I do think that an intelligent and fair minded journalist should be able to discern between newsworthy examples of infidelity and purely hatchet jobs on someone's private life. The McCain article was repulsive, especially in light of the failure to really investigate the Edwards affair until he was put to pasture. Edwards was selling his marriage and his wife to the voters so I think it was highly newsworthy. Patterson would be the opposite example it seems to me.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Matt: I was one of those persons who complained on the NYT website after the McCain story broke.

Leticia: I am not sure that marital infidelity indicates unethical conduct in other areas. Besides, with both Paterson and his wife admitting to this in the past and staying together, is it really "infidelity"?

Aspasia said...

I agree with you Darren. Considering none of us know the true foundations of the Patersons' marriage we can hardly judge whether or not their affairs "got in the way of other things". They may be polyamorous and have an open marriage and since this country has all the sexual maturity of sixth graders (if that), it'd be "unacceptable" for a politician specifically say "My wife and I are poly and have an open marriage". They would lose their job, yet amazingly if they lie they can keep it. Furthermore, their marriage is none of our business.

We're not peasants loyal to a King and Queen and their royal household, excitedly awaiting their Royal Issue and hoping that said children are truly the legitimate offspring of the royal couple. I mean, matters of succession have started wars in such societies and would be a genuine concern for the peasants who would either be drafted into service or stand to lose the little property they have along with their lives and dignity in the ensuing battle.

But that's not a society we live in, it's (supposedly) a democratic republic where the rulers are voted in and out on a frequent basis and their children and private lives probably won't have a significant, genuine effect on our nation.

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