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October 30, 2007

The Obligatory Huge Sex Scandal Being Spiked By The LAT Thread

Ron Rosenbaum is either being played or is being a dink. If he knows what this is all about, why not tip someone to get it out there?

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”.

If it’s true, I don’t envy the LAT. I respect their hesitation, their dilemma, deciding to run or not to run it raises a lot of difficult journalism ethics questions and they’re likely to be attacked, when it comes out—the story or their suppression of the story—whatever they do.

I’ve been sensing hints that something’s going on, something’s going unspoken in certain insider coverage of the campaign (and by the way this rumor the LA Times is supposedly sitting on is one I never heard in this specific form before. By the way, t’s not the Edwards rumor, it’s something else.

And when my source said “everyone in Washington”, knows about it he means everyone in the elite Mainstream media, not just the LA Times, but everyone regularly writing about the Presdidential campaign knows about it and doesn’t know what to do with it. And I must admit it really is was juicy if true. But I don’t know if it’s true and I can’t decide if I think it’s relevant. But the fact that “everyone” in the elite media knew about it and was keeping silent about it, is, itself, news. But you can’t report the “news” without reporting the thing itself. Troubling!

I am on google-chat with everyone I can think of trying to get some info on t his. JackM. has theories as to why this is all bullshit, which hopefully he'll be kind enough to add in a PS.

JackM. can't think of anyone whose coverage, as Rosenbaum claims, has reflected a sort of tension between what is known and what can be reported. I can't, myself.

I suppose if I can strain a bit I can say, "Hey, maybe they're not treating Giuliani like a front-runner because they know he's about to be sunk," or "Maybe they're not giving Thompson his props as a credible challenger because they know he has a 'colorful and wide-ranging sex-life, as we'll soon find out.' "

But that's straining mightily. I really don't know what the hell he could be talking about.

Some people I'm talking to say "the Bill Richardson groping thing," but Rosenbaum did say a leading candidate, and Bill Richardson isn't leading anything except the line to the Wendy's fixin's bar.

Someone else piped up with "Larry Flynt is set to out a closeted high-ranking Republican Senator' (a rumor that's been around forever), but that's not it. Maybe that's a bonus one.

I sort of think it's either a 1) gay thing or a 2) bad behavior long ago during an already ended marriage thing, or else the LAT would run with it. They have to treat the gay thing with kid gloves -- the sub-hed would have to be Not That There's Anything Wrong With That -- and cheating during the break up of a marriage might be lacking relevance, as the LAT's editors seem to be thinking about this story.

But if that's what it is -- why is Rosenbaum claiming it's a "major" sex scandal?

Another Update [Ace]: Off the record, a source in media, who by his own self-description is no where near the liberal heart of Beltway media chatter or the LAT, says his guess, and just his guess, is that this is about John McCain. This is the candidate about whom most rumor flies have been buzzing the longest and loudest, he thinks.

Which would make some sense. McCain is the only Republican the LAT would even think twice about lowering the boom on. He could be described, charitably, as a "leading" Presidential candidate.

And the fact that these rumors I'm told of date from the 80s or thereabouts (mostly) would seem to fit the LAT's apparent dilemma of being unsure if the story is relevant or germane -- I mean, twenty years ago. That's pretty far back.

Doesn't mean it's true, of course. Just doin' my part to move the water over the buckets of the rumor mill.

Update: "Dark Scandal Star:" Kaus:

Do you sense there is some large mass of dark matter, an unseen Scandal Star, the gravitational pull of which is warping the coverage of what seems, on the surface, a pretty dull presidential race? I do.

He's referring to Ron Rosenbaum's bit, of course. I'm talking with someone right now who's trying to connect this all to Hillary -- the "Dark Scandal Star," he suggests, is visible by the media attempting to keep Edwards and Obama viable presidential candidates, still in the hunt -- though the latest poll numbers say they're not even close.

Why fight to keep Obama and Edwards in it? Well if they know that Hillary could be torpedoed by, say, old affairs coming to light, well, they're going to need those back-ups, right?

UPDATE [Jack M.]: I'll throw in my thoughts in the extended entry since Ace asked me to chime in.

UPDATE2 [Dave in Texas]: Docweasel provides helpful graphical depiction of a Decider agonizing over his moral dilemma.

Here is the deal.

When "everyone in DC" knows something, in the middle of a political campaign season, with about a hundred different campaigns on both sides, it comes out.

Sooner, rather than later. There are too many conflicting motives, egos, and ambitions to keep the thing bottled up.

Now, I would like to believe that there is some HUGE potentially campaign ending scandal that the LA Times is spiking to save some frontrunning Democrat's ass. (I don't want to believe that the GOP has a scandal brewing, but I admit the possibility exists.)

But, given what Rosenbaum has written, I think it more likely that he is being played by someone with a dirtier motive.

In DC media circles, the phrase "everybody knows about it" is often code. Political Operatives with sketchy info try to get a credulous reporter to disseminate their dirt by enhancing it's credibility with those 4 little words. Not only do the words obstensibly add credibility, but they also get the competitive juices flowing. Everyone wants to be first to break the STORY OF THE CENTURY!

And, in a post Drudge/Lewinsky-world, there are careers to be made by breaking a juicy sex story. Remember, Drudge's initial story was about Newsweek spiking Isikoff's story. And fewer people in DC knew about that then supposedly know about this story. (If I remember correctly, Isikoff leaked the info to Drudge out of frustration.)

If "everyone" in "mainstream DC media circles" knew the story, don't you think some ambitious reporter would seize the opportunity to cash in? I do. Why let the next Matt Drudge cash in on the fame that rightfully should go to the guy who actually dug up the story?

Rosenbaum is a reputable guy. A negative story broken by him would carry credibilty. Hence, he's a perfect target of opportunity for a guy seeking to give a "scandal" legitimacy.

Other factors come into play as well. Suppose you are the DC beat reporter stuck on the Dennis Kucinich beat. What a freakin' craptacular job that would be.

So how do you get out of it? You run with the story and get yourself assigned to the better more prestigious beat.

And the LA Times would have to be concerned that their exclusive story could get scooped up by someone who might not frame it as they would. Suppose a Washington Times political writer gets sloshed regularly with a Washington Post political writer. You don't think they've talked about this purported rumor that "everyone" knows about? Why would they stay silent? It would only be a matter of tracking some of the sourcing back, which might not be all that difficult if the rumor has any sort of details at all.

At some point, these "everybody knows about it" stories have to be viewed like conspiracy theories. When "everybody" is supposedly in on a "code of silence", then the odds increase that nobody is really in on anything.

But I've been proven wrong before. If the L.A. Times breaks a story about a three way between Hillary, Reno and Helen Thomas, I'll admit to being way off base.

Right after I get done puking.

digg this
posted by Ace at 10:55 PM

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