It’s difficult to write about how aggravated you are about the media’s focus on glitz—when they’re supposed to be writing about politics, when it means that, when you’re supposed to be writing about politics, you’re focusing on media glitz. It’s “meta” in a most annoying way, plus I generally prefer not to make problems worse. But lately I feel like any ground we gained in the first half of the world’s longest primary—gained ground in my world represented by increased popular interest in the mechanics of governance—has been lost to the sordid soap opera antics of business as usual. And press as usual.
Okay, look: Eliot Spitzer paid a woman for sex. There it is. He happened to break any number of laws doing it (I’m still not sure how such a zealous reformer could miss the Mann Act, but whatever). I don’t really care about his sex life, to be honest. I think I could get my feminist credentials checked over this one, but it’s really not of great interest for me—certainly I am less interested in using this incident as a jumping-off point for larger debate than others. Is that unfeminist? If people want to theorize, they should only live and be well, but isn’t the commentary field a little crowded right now? By all means, we can use this as a launch pad for a new round of “Should sex work be decriminalized/legalized/federally funded/etc.” But it worries me when this sort of story (or, for that matter, the whole Obama’s pastor shindig) dominates the news cycle while China beats up Tibet, oil’s going through the roof (much to some people’s surprise), and South America’s looking unusually bellicose.
Obviously, salacious gossip holds people’s attention (obviously, myself included). And of course we all want to talk about what everybody’s talking about and figure out how it affects us as individuals and groups. But I would love most would be for Jews and feminists—two groups who carry the reputation, however deserved or undeserved, of seeing the world through a very narrow prism of self-interest—to lead the charge in saying, we don’t care as much about these relatively cosmetic issues. And we will not be diverted from our mission of provided you news that is vital to your real life.