(Steve Sebelius) – U.S. Sen. John Ensign told the website Politico yesterday that he thinks the press has been unfair to him.
“Seeking the truth should be not only part of the Justice Department and part of our judicial system, but also should be … a goal of reporters today,” Ensign said. “Unfortunately, too much of our press is … (1) biased or (2) just about ‘gotcha,’” Ensign said.
My colleague Jon Ralston is quoted in the Politico story defending his coverage of the story, and noting that it’s hard to lodge of charge of “gotcha” journalism against reporters who are pursuing a story in the face of stonewalling from Ensign.
Me? Oh, hell, why lie? I confess, I’m biased.
When a public official puts himself forward as an upright, Promise Keeping, Bible-quoting Christian, and then has an affair with his best friend’s wife (both of whom are his employees, by the way), I think that’s awful. When that same person appears to be contrite and invokes the forgiveness of God and man, but then turns around and continues the affair, I find that objectionable.
When that same public official then uses his connections to try to get that now-former best friend a job — not for compassion’s sake, but simply to get him out of Washington, D.C. where he’s been causing trouble — I struggle with feelings of contempt. When I consider that the public official in question knew — or should have known — that he’s conspiring to break an important lobbying law, I feel a sense of outrage.
When a public official induces his parents to pay the family of his mistress $96,000 — which may or may not be a violation of campaign finance laws — I admit my biases are in favor of writing about that. (Is that “gotcha”?)
When a public official suggests — either in person or in e-mail — that official acts in the Senate can be had, so long as there’s a campaign contribution or a job for a cuckolded husband to be had — I’m biased in favor of authorities looking into that as a possible crime.
And when that same public official claims he’s done nothing legally wrong, or that he’s broken no laws, when that person has a history of lying, I admit, I find that a compelling subject for commentary. Yes, it’s a bias, but I just can’t help it.
I strongly dislike disingenuousness, hypocrisy, lies and (alleged) lawbreaking among public officials who ask the citizens of this country for their vote. As much as I struggle to remain objective, and not engage in “gotcha” journalism, I would be hypocritical myself if I didn’t acknowledge that I’m biased against the duplicitous, the dishonest, and the douchey.
Sorry, senator. We all have our faults, right?
(Mr. Sebelius is editor of CityLife)