Reporting A Scandal: When Everyone Knows

I came across a post today that related a story about a supposed scandal brewing concerning a presidential candidate. I don’t care about the scandal. I’ve mentioned before that personal antics are of no interest to me. However, the language used to describe the situation is interesting:

So I was down in DC this past weekend and happened to run into a well-connected media person, who told me flatly, unequivocally that “everyone knows” The LA Times was sitting on a story, all wrapped up and ready to go about what is a potentially devastating sexual scandal involving a leading Presidential candidate. “Everyone knows” meaning everyone in the DC mainstream media political reporting world. “Sitting on it” because the paper couldn’t decide the complex ethics of whether and when to run it. The way I heard it they’d had it for a while but don’t know what to do. The person who told me (not an LAT person) knows I write and didn’t say “don’t write about this”. (link)

These phrases stuck out to me: “everyone knows,” “sitting on,” and “complex ethics.” Everyone knows? If everyone knows, then how complex can the ethics can be? And when you add “sitting on” to “everyone knows,” the contradictions just keep piling up.

Maybe this kind of thinking has played a role in why we’re paying less attention to the MSM and  more attention to people who are invested in ideas bigger than “everyone knows.”



2 Responses to “Reporting A Scandal: When Everyone Knows”

  1. November 1, 2007 at 4:48 am

    But everyone is only those who live in a different world where such things can be seen as part of the consequences (benefits?) of playing the game. Don’t do anything too stupid and even if everyone knows it will never get out.

    But most of the rest of the country do not play the game and there even a single word, the wrong one at the wrong time, can ruin a candidates chances – always helped by the media of course.

  2. 2 Britt
    November 1, 2007 at 7:39 am

    That’s an interesting point. Depending on the definition of “everyone” this argument is in flux. For me, the sticking point was the combination of all three phrases. Then, the idea of “complex ethics” made me wonder about how we define journalism. If the scandal wasn’t sex-related would the ethics still be complex?

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October 2007
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