Friday, February 13, 2004

A non-sex non-scandal non-story. There is only one story that the media and political world is talking about right now: the allegations that Senator John Kerry had an extramarital affair with a young woman a few years ago. This "news" was broken yesterday by Matt Drudge, who is best known for revealing in 1998 that Newsweek was preparing a report on the relationship between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

What's perversely fascinating about this is the post-modern nature of the current media environment. Drudge's scoop obviously doesn't meet any sort of respectable news standard. Not only are the allegations completely unproven, but it's still unclear as to what the allegations even are.

Yet this is already getting picked up by papers in the UK and in Australia, which have rather different standards from those that prevail in the US (which are low enough as it is). So you've got a story that everyone is talking about, that has already broken the talk-radio barrier (Sean Hannity gushed over Drudge yesterday, and Kerry denied the rumors, whatever they are, on Imus this morning), but that is virtually absent from US newspapers today.

The most specific version of the story I've seen is this, in the London Sun, home of the Page Three Girl. Assuming it's accurate (a huge assumption!), the so-called scandal is even lamer than one might have imagined. A 24-year-old woman's parents believe that Kerry was coming on to their daughter. Reporter Brian Flynn writes:

There is no evidence the pair had an affair, but her father Terry, 56, said: "I think he's a sleazeball. I did kind of wonder if my daughter didn't get that kind of feeling herself.

"He's not the sort of guy I would choose to be with my daughter."

This is a sex scandal? Don't you need, you know, sex?

Joe Conason has the definitive (thus far) take. As for whether this grows, my guess is that we should know by the end of the weekend.

Gay marriage survives - for now. You can read my piece on yesterday's raucous session of the constitutional convention, as well as other Phoenix coverage, at And check out the QuickTime video I shot of pro-marriage demonstrators.

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