Of course, the difference is that if, say, a Gore or Kerry administration had brought in a gay hooker to act as a ringer at news conferences, it would have quickly exploded into the biggest story in the country. Fox News would devote hours upon hours to it. So would Rush Limbaugh. So would the Pat Robertsons and the Jerry Falwells and the James Dobsons. Needless to say, so would the Republican Party. And here’s where the difference between liberal and conservative sex scandals, and how the mainstream media handle them, becomes clearly visible. When there’s a scandal on the left, there is a built-in machine, already in place, to spew shock and outrage on a 24-hour-a-day basis, and the mainstream media naturally cover that. But when there’s a sex scandal on the right, there’s really no one to speak out. Do liberals really care that men are having sex with each other? Or that Jeff Gannon supposedly has been paid as much as $1200 for one weekend for the pleasure of his companionship? To ask these questions is to answer them: no, and no.
The paradigmatic example is the Monica Lewinsky story. You may recall that the investigation into Bill Clinton’s sex life was driven not by the media, but by a $50 million official government investigation and a congressional witch-hunt led by the Republican majority. If the Bush White House really does become embroiled in a sex scandal — and, at this point, it looks like a genuine possibility — well, who is going to push this into the hyperstory realm? There simply are no liberal equivalents of Sean Hannity and Rush. Al Franken? Please. He’d be laughing too hard to take this seriously. And Howard Dean is not likely to position himself as the Democrats’ sexual inquisitor.