November 28, 2018 by jacklovelace
In teaching journalism one of the topics concerned was what is fair game in covering private lives of public figures.
I would outline how there was a long tradition of never mentioning, much less pursuing, alleged affairs of presidents.
But when Gary Hart was running for president there were rumors of him being unfaithful to his wife and when a reporter asked him about it, he said “just follow me, you’ll be bored.”
Well he was followed (although it began before his challenge) and they found a woman
coming and going from his apartment and a picture of her sitting on his lap in a boat called “Monkey Business.
I was curious when I went to see “Front Runner” today.
It is of interest to a journalist, although I think the general public might find it
boring. Hugh Jackman plays Gary Hart as mostly a statue.
What I did like is how the movie didn’t try and offer filmmaker opinion answers.
Was Hart part victim, all villain, and is a politician’s private life fair game?
Considering how everything seems to be fair game today, it does give pause.
A reporter in the movie asks Hart point-blank “Have you committed adultery?”
Is that a fair question to someone running for president? Would a yes answer even disqualify a candidate today? Would a yes answer necessarily mean you would be any less good as a president?
Even today, I don’t think in 2020 when there are 20 Democrats lined up at a debate, there will be a question “Have you committed adultery?”
But Hart was a special case. They weren’t dredging up past history. They caught him
while he was the front-runner to get the nomination for president.
As Hart acknowledges, he is a human capable of bad judgement.
Sometimes I am comfortable with not having easy answers.