July 25, 2008

One of the scummier sidelights to the Presidential campaign has been the whispering campaign against former candidate John Edwards. Sex scandals have always been a favorite way to target political figures who threaten the status quo, from Charles Parnell to Martin Luther King, so it shouldn't surprise that John Edwards has been the focus of one such fatwa. Mickey Kaus has hyped this story since it began (in fact, I think he might have actually dreamt this one up by his lonesome), and hasn't stopped since, even after Edwards dropped out of the race in February. Since Kaus hates Democrats, and liberal Democrats especially, his prudishness may blind him to the fact that sex scandals, so long as they involve two consenting adults engaged in legal activity, don't actually do much to derail the political fortunes of progressive pols (in fact, it's money scandals that usually derail the good guys; having a mistress is disproportionately harmful to conservative pols).

Much of the original dirt came from Ann Coulter, who attempted to float the meme that the former Senator from North Carolina was a "faggot." Needless to say, when NaziPundit speaks, few listen, and the Edwards-as-a-closeted-gay-candidate rumor didn't catch fire. Subsequent efforts to nickname the candidate the "Breck Girl" were confined to the habitats of her homophobic ilk, and like the "Barack Hussein Osama" meme, was considered to be part of that dark corner of the political sphere that viewed Jesse Helms as a "patriot," and used the word "illegal" as a noun and "jew" as a verb.

Then, some months ago, Mickey Kaus began hyping the rumor that Edwards had an affair with a staffer. The story was denied by all concerned, and seemed to have died a natural death until last week, when the National Enquirer "broke" the story that the former candidate had visited said staffer at an hotel in Los Angeles, along with several other parties. Frustrated that most of the organs of the "MSM" did not pass along the story, unfiltered from a source known for making up stories whole cloth, to the masses, Kaus began targeting his favorite bete noire, the Los Angeles Times.

This morning, Kaus chose to publish an e-mail sent by the LA Times internet supremo, Tony Pierce, which broached the controversy in the following manner:
In a move that has apparently stirred up some internal discontent, the Los Angeles Times has banned its bloggers, including political bloggers, from mentioning the Edwards/Rielle Hunter story. Even bloggers who want to mention the story in order to make a skeptical we-don't-trust-the-Enquirer point are forbidden from doing so. Kausfiles has obtained a copy of the email Times bloggers received from editor Tony Pierce. [I've excised the recipient list and omitted Pierce's email address]:

From: "Pierce, Tony"

Date: July 24, 2008 10:54:41 AM PDT

To: [XXX]

Subject: john edwards

Hey bloggers,

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,

That will certainly calm paranoia about the Mainstream Media (MSM) suppressing the Edwards scandal. ...
It's hard to guess what's more pathetic: Kaus' obsession with the private life of a former political office seeker, or Kaus' disingenuous summary of Pierce's e-mail. To put it simply, an editor instructing his minions that the Times would prefer that they not use their unmediated blogspace to comment on a story in which the only source is one of the few American publications that actually loses defamation actions brought by public figures, is not the same thing as a newspaper "forbidding" or "banning" discussion of same. Since Kaus admits that another Times blogger went ahead and wrote about the controversy anyway, it can hardly be said that Tony Pierce "silenced" anybody.

I guess it must have been a slow day on the immigrant-bashing front. Pierce is one of the true gentlemen of the blogosphere, a nice, friendly mensch who is as good to his friends as he is generous to strangers, as I found out the first night I met him. It is thanks to Pierce that the Times has one of the liveliest blogging sections of any major newspaper; that he chose to remind his staff that the obligations of posting at one of the country's most important newspapers means being careful with the facts is a tribute to his journalistic integrity, and should not be used to settle old scores. Whatever the reason for his hatred of John Edwards (Kaus later cruelly derides the Senator's wife, who suffers from terminal cancer, as "Saint Elizabeth"), he should leave good people out of it.

July 21, 2008

Those of us who support the legal recognition of gay marriage can be cautiously optimistic from this poll, which shows the initiative to outlaw such ceremonies already trailing by a significant margin. The Field Poll, which conducted the survey, has an uncommonly eerie track record of accuracy in California, and historically, ballot initiatives are much like golfers who find themselves trailing Tiger Woods going into the final day of a major: they are doomed to defeat.