CHUNG AWARD NOMINEE

Introducing a new feature that keeps tabs on the media’s wanton invasion of public and private figures’ privacy. A clear winner this week is the Washington Post. Check out this astonishing story today about the governor of Maryland, Parris Glendening. It seems he is having a relationship with a member of his staff. He is divorced; there are no laws against this; he has conducted his love affair with discretion. What does the Post do? It sends reporters to catch the guy leaving his paramour’s house in the early morning: “Washington Post reporters observed the governor emerging from the aide’s Annapolis town home after spending the night there several times this summer.” Several times? Is this a good way to deploy reporters – having them stake out someone’s home to catch them in a relationship? And get this paragraph, pointed out to me by Jake Tapper: “In May, a source unfriendly to the governor told The Washington Post that Glendening often visited [his lover’s] Annapolis town house, a short drive from the State House. In a month-long period, Post reporters, watching from a shopping center parking lot across the street from Crawford’s town house, saw Glendening there without his security detail, and on several occasions he spent the night.” In other words, some slimeball who wanted to smear Glendening was a key source for the Post’s entrapment. The Post might say in its defense that because the governor’s lover is on his staff and because her influence is said to be growing, there is a justification for this invasion of privacy. Hooey. The Post has found nothing improper in Glendening’s public actions that might mean undue influence or special favors for his lover. The fact that she is close to him is not relevant in and of itself. It’s just a juicy story that once upon a time would have been left to the National Enquirer. The Post wins the first Chung Award. Keep your eyes open for others.

INNOCENT UNTIL … : My latest TRB defends a principle apparently forgotten by today’s media.

CORRECTIONS

From many letters, it appears my first correspondent was wrong in thinking that the Israeli missile that killed Mustafa Zibri was guided by a homing device. Less Mission Impossible, but still remarkable. An item I wrote about Deroy Murdock’s presumption of Gary Condit’s guilt put the word “obvious” in parentheses, as if it were quoting Murdock. He didn’t use the word. My apologies. Have a great Labor Day weekend, and thanks for making August our biggest month yet.

MASS MURDERER CAUGHT

Nikolay Soltys, the mentally disturbed man who killed six family members in cold blood, was finally caught today. Any bets on whether Anna Quindlen will write a column empathizing with his plight? Oh, he’s a male. Never mind.

JOINT BEGALA/DERBYSHIRE AWARD NOMINEE

“We will not be surprised or shocked if the Senator, wife of the former American president … changes her surname to Zion, Moishele, or Sharoni. Simultaneously with sexual prostitution and corruption, chronic political prostitution spreads in the US ruling circles. Since Hillary Clinton was elected congresswoman [sic] for the state of New York, she has been practicing a kind of political prostitution that is even worse than her husband’s sexual debauchery. We are not surprised by the position of this political whore – a position that turns the facts upside down in order to win the love and support of the Zionist lobby in the US.” – from an article titled “Hillary Clinton Is A Zionist Whore,” printed by Al-Ittihad, the Arabic language mouthpiece for the Israeli Communist party.

THAT FRENCH LETTER TRANSLATED BY ALTA VISTA: “The death of a human being, was he an assassin is always tragic. I find that your ticket on the death of Mustapha Zibri misses elegance.”

THE BRITISH CONDITS

While we’ve all been talking about Chandra, the Brits have had their own sex scandal. Former Tory minister Neil Hamilton and his wife, Christine, have been twisting in the tabloid wind for weeks now. They were accused by an anonymous woman, backed by a media publicist, Max Clifford, of sexually assaulting the woman while another 60 year-old man raped her. The case has been in the British papers for weeks, with the Hamiltons having every aspect of their lives pored over and suspicion cast over them. They had an alibi – they were at a dinner party when the alleged assault took place – but that didn’t stop the speculation. It also didn’t prevent the Hamiltons from what must have been a simply mortifying ordeal. The slow news summer helped stoke the story. Finally, they’ve been completely cleared of all suspicion by the police. The story was an unspeakable smear and they are now suing for libel. But the damage has been done. The publicist who pioneered the story had the gall to concede that the Hamiltons were innocent but then told British television: “What goes through my mind is why did the police spend so many months looking into this, and arrest them, if there was nothing there?” The smears continue – and no-one in today’s media climate can resist publicizing them.

SMART MISSILES, AMAZING MOSSAD: A friend emails to remind me that the Israeli Army was even more impressive in its missile attack on Mustafa Zibri. For the missile to have hit its target, it needed more than just good technology. Some plucky Israeli had actually gotten into Zibri’s office and planted the homing device. Whatever one thinks of the morality of such an attack, its proficiency is surely remarkable.

HOW FLAKY IS SUSAN LEVY?: I just got around to reading the Washington Post’s invasive profile of Bob and Susan Levy. I don’t like this invasion of their privacy – but then they invited the reporters in, so I guess it’s ok. Take a read. What I take from the article is that Mrs. Levy is more than just flaky. This particular part of the story, noted again on the Daily Howler, had me reeling: “Susan Barbara Katz met Robert Lee Levy at Ohio State during the late ’60s … Sue struggled with a learning disability to become an art teacher. She says she suffers from auditory dyslexia: Sometimes words and conversations get mixed up in her mind. This appears to contribute to her disjointed manner of speaking. She flits from topic to topic, her ideas connecting at right angles instead of in straight lines.” (My italics.) This is the source against whose word we are expected to conclude that Gary Condit has been lying! Remember the classic Chung exchange in which she seemed to trap him into a simple conflict with Mrs. Levy about whether he had denied a sexual relationship with Chandra on the phone with Mrs. Levy? Condit looked awful, and almost everybody concluded he was lying. Condit claims he gave her the same euphemism he gave everyone else – a completely plausible notion given that he was talking to the mom of his lover. But Chandra’s mom, whose word has been taken as Gospel by the media, says otherwise. So who are you going to believe? A congressman or a woman who “suffers from auditory dyslexia: sometimes words and conversations get mixed up in her mind?”

LETTERS

Home-wrecker Chandra; racist North Carolinians; and my first email in French! Formidable!

BEGALA AWARD NOMINEE

“Unless, of course, your family happens to be super rich like the president’s. For most Americans, Social Security and Medicare are the best family values programs, and it’s mind-boggling that we sit by while a born-rich president who has never known a second of family financial insecurity threatens to pull the safety net out from under the rest of us.”- Robert Scheer, Salon. Why can’t some liberals criticize a policy without demonizing a president?