The Corner

Media

Another Blow to the Sexual Compartmentalizers

The New York Times building in New York City (Gary Hershorn/Reuters)

One additional thought about the New York Times‘ Biden story that I addressed on the homepage.

Early on in the Times report on Tara Reade’s accusations against Joe Biden, before even getting to the facts, the authors discuss the various allegations of sexual harassment or assault against Donald Trump. These are of course fair game in the broader discussion of Trump v. Biden. In my view, they have received too little specific attention and scrutiny besides a lot of hand-waving at the number of them; as usual, far too many people just project once again their view of Trump in general onto their view of any specific accusation against Trump. Still, in a news report, putting the Trump accusations right up front in your very first article on the Biden charge is a fairly clear indication of wanting to prioritize “whatabout Trump” over holding Biden to account with the no-fear-or-favor attitude that in theory is supposed to characterize straight-news journalism.

Anyway, what I found interesting is this line:

The president also directed illegal payments, including $130,000 to a pornographic film actress, Stormy Daniels, before the 2016 election to silence women about alleged affairs with Mr. Trump, according to federal prosecutors.

The Stormy Daniels story is yet another item of evidence of Trump’s bad moral character, but it was a consensual affair. Last I checked, it was still dogma among liberals that sexual immorality has nothing to do with sexual harassment or assault. Throwing this into a discussion of the latter topic is an implicit admission that the moralizers were right and the “compartmentalizers” were wrong all along to see the two phenomena as linked, and to see bad sexual character as simply an aspect of bad character. It is one thing to argue that a politician’s character flaws are outweighed by his or her public virtues and accomplishments; as with so many things in politics, there are always tradeoffs. But they should be faced and weighed openly. I hope that one lesson of the Trump presidency is to kill forever the idea that we should simply not talk about the moral character of our leaders as if it is relevant to their job performance.

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