At least two news outlets sat on a story of Donald Trump having had an affair with a porn star, started while his wife was either pregnant or had just given birth, and then paid her a six-figure settlement to keep silent:
In what’s becoming a familiar mantra, Fox responded that they tried and tried to nail down the details of the affair but “were unable to verify all of the facts and publish a story.” I’ll bet. I wonder how many other outlets knew about this? So far only Slate and Fox News have fessed up. I wonder if there were more, and they were all just waiting for someone else to go first?
POSTSCRIPT: The affair itself is not that big a deal. However, the agreement to pay Daniels $130,000 to stay quiet is a very big deal. Trump’s lawyer has admitted the payment was made, but refuses to say anything more about it. How is this happening? How can the president of the United States get away with what looks like hush money paid to a mistress in the middle of an election? How is it that this isn’t front-page news until Trump tells us what it was all about and shows us the agreement?
Fox News — I guess what can you expect from Pravda. But Scocca justly excoriates Slate:
It's hard to overstate what a disgrace and catastrophe this is. pic.twitter.com/ogAaek1PO1
— Tom Scocca (@tomscocca) January 13, 2018
It really is staggering. Imagine the press having an on the record story about, say, Barack Obama or Bill Clinton paying off a porn star he had an affair with. This would be a twenty-alarm scandal defining the news for months. My own personal view is that if it doesn’t involve nonconsensual or otherwise criminal behavior being a good spouse has essentially no relationship with being a good public official — but this hasn’t been the political media’s view for decades. And as Drum says the payoff makes it a major story even if you believe Trump should get a unique exemption from the norms that other politicians have lived under for time out of mind. When it came to Trump’s opponent, no evidence could be too threadbare or alleged misconduct too trivial to keep a steady drip of scandal coverage going.
To be Scrupulously Fair, a longtime celebrity paying off a porn star to cover up adultery hardly has the kind of ratings or click-generating purient interest of, say, best practices in email server management.