INSIDE THE BELTWAY: The most we can hope to learn from Giuliani’s mess is that the time for media restraint is here

For all this time people were wondering how she could go through a long campaign for the Senate seat in New York (of all places) with two publicized infidelities of her husband’s available as campaign ’issues.’ We just didn’t know who ’she’ was. It turned out to be Donna Hanover (or, as right-wing journalists might have insisted for four years, Donna Giuliani).

For all this time people were wondering how she could go through a long campaign for the Senate seat in New York (of all places) with two publicized infidelities of her husband’s available as campaign ’issues.’ We just didn’t know who ’she’ was. It turned out to be Donna Hanover (or, as right-wing journalists might have insisted for four years, Donna Giuliani).

For all this time people were wondering how she could go through a

long campaign for the Senate seat in New York (of all places) with two

publicized infidelities of her husband’s available as campaign ’issues.’

We just didn’t know who ’she’ was. It turned out to be Donna Hanover

(or, as right-wing journalists might have insisted for four years, Donna

Giuliani).



Now, it’s Mayor Rudy Giuliani - at this writing still a Senate candidate

- who is confronting the worst PR dilemma a candidate can face: charges

(in fact, admissions) of infidelity and an aggrieved wife who has gone

public.



When one adds a previously undisclosed marriage and annulment, as well

as a current affair with a divorcee of another faith, the spin

possibilities become sharply limited for a Catholic prosecutor running

against Hillary Rodham Clinton on a campaign pledge to restore morality

to government.



The fun for observers of all this does not lie in the misfortunes of the

mighty, but rather in the monumental hypocrisy of the media. Both the

out-in-the-open Clinton haters and the respectable conservative

mainstreamers are now all talking about modesty and privacy, chiding

their brethren for making the mayor’s ’private’ sex life public, as

though he had not brought it up himself, publicly announcing his plans

for an end to his marriage - without first telling his wife.



And when one considers the 24-hours-a-day play this receives on cable

and ’all news’ media, and the once-daily clamor about the president’s

infidelities and the ensuing impeachment trial, the pleading cries to

’leave the man alone’ and to consider all this a private family matter

ring rather hollow. The mayor, one journalistic wit remarked, has taken

sex out of Times Square and moved it to City Hall.



There is, of course, a serious side to all of this. Perhaps - just

perhaps - there is time to reflect on what eight years of unbridled

public hatred for the president and the first lady, and a complete

abandonment of restraint in news coverage and editorial comment, has

brought us.



We may yet have time to repent and change our standards. We can still

embrace the idea that respect for government and the functioning of a

civilized society calls for every one of us to practice considerable

restraint.



We might even come to understand that simply because the First Amendment

permits venom and virulence and, of course, falsehood and rumor to be

printed and broadcast, it does not require it.



There is some news that is not fit to print; it is time we began to make

that distinction.



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