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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Apparently Wife-Beating Isn’t Big News in Ohio.



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As far as I can tell, not one news entity in Ohio has picked up the story about revelations of spousal abuse by Rep. Charlie Wilson in his divorce papers.

Not a one.

In fact, the only news groups that have even mentioned the story are Townhall.com, our old friend David Freddoso in the Washington Examiner, and here and a few other blogs. Compare this to the Mark Foley scandal, which broke in late September 2006 and dominated the final month of the campaign.

We don’t have a news business. We have a narrative-reinforcement business, and they do a strikingly effective job of collectively averting their eyes from information that hurts their preferred cause. For Pete’s sake, this is wife-beating we’re talking about, and it is admitted in a public record. How is this not news? How is this not something that the voters in Ohio’s 6th congressional district ought to know about before they cast their vote?

A reader wondered yesterday whether there was something unseemly about citing Wilson’s divorce records, thinking back to the end of Jack Ryan’s campaign in the Illinois Senate race in 2004. I noted two distinct differences.

Jack Ryan’s divorce records were sealed, and the Chicago newspapers went to court to get them unsealed, a standard rarely if ever deployed by the media ever before or since. Jeri Ryan, an actress in the Star Trek series and elsewhere, divorced her husband relatively amicably; she wanted the records to remain sealed for the sake of their 9-year-old son.

This portion of Charlie Wilson’s divorce records is unsealed; they’ve been sitting in an Ohio courthouse for two decades. It’s rather striking that this is the first time anyone thought to look at them.

Secondly, I never quite understood what made Jack Ryan’s behavior so scandalous and made him unfit for the Senate. He took his wife to some kinky sex clubs, and she didn’t want to participate. They ended up not participating. Some might find his tastes in the bedroom unusual, weird, or even repugnant, but there was nothing non-consensual, forced, or criminal about this matter. If wanting to do that sort of thing to Jeri Ryan is a crime, I suspect you’ll have to lock up about two-thirds of Trekkies.

There is no disputing that grabbing your wife by the neck and throwing her against the refrigerator, punching and kicking her, and leaving her covered in bruises is a violent crime and a felony. The only reason Charlie Wilson never wore handcuffs was because his wife didn’t file charges.

This, in part, is what this election is about. The double standard is now so large you can’t get your head around it. We cannot have a healthy democracy where those whose job is to inform the public see their first duty as protecting the reputations of their preferred incumbents.


Tags: Charlie Wilson


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