Why is a U.S. senator’s extramarital affair on the front page of The Washington Post this morning?
Don’t get me wrong, I like a juicy sex scandal as well as the next guy. And I’m amused at my friend and former colleague Radley Balko’s Facebook comment (or was it a tweet? who can keep up with the new media?) that “sadly, growing public acceptance for gay marriage has given yet another conservative politician no choice but to cheat on his wife.” But this affair fit Bill Kristol’s definition of good Republican behavior: “Republicans have old‐fashioned extramarital affairs with other adults.” No prostitution, no underage interns, no public toilets.
So why is it front‐page news?
Meanwhile, you know what’s not on the front page, today or any day so far? President Obama’s firing of the AmeriCorps inspector general, in apparent violation of a law that Senator Obama voted for, perhaps in retaliation for the IG’s investigation of Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, an Obama supporter. It’s an interesting story. As a Wall Street Journal lead editorial explained:
In April 2008 the Corporation [for National and Community Service] asked Mr. Walpin to investigate reports of irregularities at St. HOPE, a California nonprofit run by former NBA star and Obama supporter Kevin Johnson. St. HOPE had received an $850,000 AmeriCorps grant, which was supposed to go for three purposes: tutoring for Sacramento‐area students; the redevelopment of several buildings; and theater and art programs.
Mr. Walpin’s investigators discovered that the money had been used instead to pad staff salaries, meddle politically in a school‐board election, and have AmeriCorps members perform personal services for Mr. Johnson, including washing his car.
Other papers have been on the story, notably the Washington Examiner. But as even The Washington Post’s ombudsman notes, not a word in the Post (until a small story on page A19 today, featuring the Obama administration’s spin on the issue). The Post is, however, ahead of The New York Times, which has apparently not run a word on the story, even online, though it did have room for the senatorial affair.
And I have to wonder: If George W. Bush had fired an inspector general who had alleged fraud by a key Bush supporter, would the Post and the Times have covered the story?