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Too Far!

There has been some reporting about the political preferences of the minor child of a candidate. That child chooses not to be involved in the campaign and has given no interviews. It is totally out of bounds to pursue this. This is tabloid journalism at its worse. It makes no difference what party is involved or what office.

Private people are just that, and it is not the business of the media to force them into the public arena. If they indicate they want to be left alone by not appearing in public, they should be left alone. It is hard enough to have anything approaching a normal childhood when one or both of your parents is famous, and these kids don’t need press harassment.

6 comments

1 whig { 08.07.07 at 4:21 am }

Amen. I was shocked that Keith Olbermann ran with this.

2 Bryan { 08.07.07 at 9:50 am }

Teenagers have enough problems without this sort of gratuitous harassment.

3 Steve Bates { 08.07.07 at 10:39 am }

Too far? Perhaps, but considering what was done to Chelsea Clinton, I am disinclined to be sympathetic when the media focuses on the daughter of a GOP candidate.

Am I advocating payback? No; Chelsea has demonstrated she can take care of herself, and payback would be in execrably bad taste, to say the least. But this is an era in which candidates themselves put forward their children in campaigns. (What? you want to argue that Jenna and Not-Jenna are adults?) It’s a little hard for me to condone candidates pushing their kids in front of cameras to the candidates’ advantage, yet feel any shock when others do something similar to the candidates’ disadvantage.

Do I wish it would all go away? do I find hounding the kids to be in poor taste? Yes to both. But the campaigns themselves brought this on. At least Olbermann merely reported it… unlike Chelsea’s critics, Keith didn’t call anyone “ugly” on the air.

4 Bryan { 08.07.07 at 11:44 am }

It isn’t right for either side to do this, and I thought the treatment of Chelsea Clinton was particularly egregious and said so at the time. If the parents or children inject themselves into the campaign they lose their private person status. I won’t go into what I think of people who subject their children to this form of abuse, making them things, rather than individuals.

Kerry’s children joined the campaign and set themselves out there for scrutiny, but this was a case of searching for a child. There is a word for people who scan Facebook looking for children, and it isn’t very nice.

This is another example of why journalists have little ground to stand on when complaining about ethics among bloggers.

5 Michael { 08.07.07 at 12:53 pm }

I’m with Steve. If the candidates can drag their offspring around to campaign events (or, as in the case of Mitt Romney, for one, have them actually campaign on his behalf), then they’re fair game. They put themselves out there as public figures, which means they have to accept the shrinkage of their private space that goes along with that designation.

Though I’ll concede your basic point, Bryan: it would be a lot nicer, and considerably less smarmy, if the candidates left their spouses and offspring at home. Even nicer if they’d run on something more substantive than being a “good family man.” (It’s inevitably a man in this position, it seems.)

6 Bryan { 08.07.07 at 1:02 pm }

In this case, she wasn’t, in any conceivable way, part of the campaign. She wanted to be left alone, and her father didn’t involve her. They went looking for her.

In Florida they would be skirting the limits of the law that is hanging over Mark Foley’s head. It’s a poorly written law that won’t stand-up to Constitutional muster, but that’s Repubs for you.