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"Public Office, Private LivesWhere's the Line?"
Public Office, Private LivesWhere's the Line?
Rebecca Wyant
Public Office, Private Lives

Where's the Line?

John F. Kennedy's attitude towards marital fidelity was well known to the media but was never disclosed to the public. Even after ample public disclosure in the years following his assassination, the image of John F. Kennedy remains relatively untarnished. Thirty-five years later however, Bill Clinton's pale imitation of John Kennedy's personal lifestyle brought him impeachment by congress and almost cost him the presidency. It appears that the difference in the media's treatment of the two situations can be explained, in part, by the eagerness of the media to treat nothing as being sacred or private, whether or not it really constitutes serious news. Can one argue that one response was more appropriate than the other? Further, should politicians be answerable for the events in their private lives? As a general rule, politicians should be answerable for those activities in their private lives that have a material bearing on their ability to discharge their responsibilities in office. Some examples may help to explain and further support this argument.

In the cases of Kennedy and Clinton, did their marital infidelity really affect their abilities to carry out the responsibilities of the presidency? And does it appear that public support and confidence in these public figures diminished with the availability of this information? It appears not. Indeed, in Kennedy's case, the public was unaware of his indiscretions and he enjoyed great public support and still, to this day, with the awareness he is viewed as a public hero. Therefore, there is no purpose served other than damaging and invading a person's privacy.

A very current example of worthy media attention was the drunk driving incident involving the premier of British Columbia. All the extenuating circumstances related to the offense raised serious questions about his fitness for the premiership. Arguably,...

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"Public Office, Private LivesWhere's the Line?." Aug 19, 2018
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