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February 14, 2005

The Indecorous Ace Agrees With the Decorous Instapundit

First of all, thanks for the link, Insty. Can't quibble with your calling me indecorous.

Kaus and Reynolds are having a bit of dispute about the relevance of certain personal revelations about Eason Jordan, briefly reported by, before being edited out of, Howard Kurtz' latest column on the contretemps.

I was tipped to this earlier but I never mentioned it because I didn't think it was relevant. But everyone knows by now, so here goes: Kurtz reported that one of the reasons CNN had soured on Jordan was due to his alleged affair with the widow of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl.

Kaus thinks this is relevant and should be reported. Instapundit doesn't.

I don't think it should be reported, either.

Kaus spins a list of reasons for the gossip's relevance. I find them unconvincing.

The trouble is that any half-smart guy can spin a claim as to why a possibly embarrassing personal tidbit -- gambling, porn, an affair, homosexuality, etc. -- is somehow "relevant" to one's work or public life.

If you're a conservative, any such failing is ostensibly relevant because it demonstrates hypocrisy. After all, you support the idea of objective moral values.

If you're a liberal, any such embarrassing information can be claimed as "relevant" because it demonstrates that liberals just don't support the idea of an objective morality.

Or that it somehow impacts your work. Or your agenda. Or your worldview. Or whatever.

Kaus' argument, as they say, proves too much. By the low threshold of "relevance" he proposes, pretty much any dirty laundry on anyone at all is fair game for reportage.

I don't think so. Chief Justice Warren Burger suggested (in dicta, I think) that pornography was to be evaluated on a sliding scale -- the more artistic and technical merit a work might have, he reasoned, the more likely that work should be found to be non-obscene.

The liberals on the court proposed a more Kaus-like standard-- any artistic or technical merit, no matter how trivial, should be enough to save porn from being branded obscene.

I agreed with Burger then as an intellectual matter (though I guess I'm happy the liberals seem to have won), and I agree with that general analysis when it comes to stuff like this.

The standard ought not to be whether a tidbit has any arguable relevance to a story or to public policy or whatnot. The standard really should be more of a sliding scale-- the more personal and embarrassing the information, the greater the actual and direct relevance should be if you're going to report it.

Nasty gossip that just hurts people may be "news" in the sense that it is interesting and informative, but it's not "news" in the more restrictive sense that it actually has relevance to an important event or public debate.

Kaus argues that as this embarrassing information may have had something to do with Eason Jordan's firing, we really all have a right to know about it, and bloggers (and straight reporters) have an obligation to tell us about it.

I think that's just silly. These claims of "relevance" are just a pretext for justifying the reportage of juicy, sexy, somewhat-interesting dirt.

Back when Andrew Sullivan was an ideological ally (of sorts), I thought it was just vicious that details of his sexual inclinations were published by left-wing smear merchants just because... well, just because they didn't like him, I guess, and that they could claim "relevance" by comparing his actual behavior to his writings about the need for a reduction in male homosexual promiscuity.

The fact that he's now an ideological foe doesn't really change my opinion on that. I still think it was rotten and vicious to embarass him by revealing that sort of information on the flimsiest pretext of "hypocrisy." (Disclosure: A couple of times, early in this blog's life and in a pique of nastiness I'm not proud of, I referenced this same sort of stuff. I shouldn't have.)

The same crap is going on right now with Jeff Gannon, or as I call him, the real-life Batman, as some leftist douchebag bloggers are promising some sort of juicy disclosures about his personal life.

Well-- so what? If Jeff Gannon is a hack who shouldn't have been given press credentials, that can be proven by quoting his questions and questioning his qualifications. What the hell does his personal life have to do with the issue?

Mickey Kaus could probably spin us all a theory as to how it's all (marginally) relevant.

But we're not just gossips and commenters and reporters; we're also, supposedly, human beings. And as a human being, I just can't justifying trashing someone so thoroughly, and personally, on such slender reeds of "relevance."

Eason Jordan made viciously anti-military and anti-American slanders at a panel discussion before a foreign audience, including many Arabs and Muslims all to willing to believe such nonsense. That's the story.

Not that he may be guilty of a sin that, let's face, probably half of the people in the media (if not America) have indulged in at one time or another.

Our Hero Is Gravely Wounded Update: Celluloid Wisdom reports what the lefties are claiming about the man who once donated a kidney to save my life (not his own kidney, mind you, but some kidney he carved out of a sleeping homeless man-- he's just that cool of a guy, and a master of the stealthy scalpel).

Bill from InDC comments too.

Make sure you just read their sites, and not the nasty leftoids they link too. They really ought not get traffic for this sort of crap.


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posted by Ace at 03:06 PM

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