Sure Strikes Us as News

Yesterday, just 65 days before the election, U.S. Rep. Edward L. Schrock, a Virginia Republican, abruptly announced he wouldn’t seek a third term in Congress, “citing unspecified allegations that have ‘called into question’ his ability to serve.” Though Schrock wouldn’t discuss the allegations, they almost certainly stem from charges made on a weblog that he “has made a habit of rendezvousing with gay men.” Schrock is one of the most conservative members of Congress. More to the point in this case, he was one of the co-sponsors of the proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned gay marriage.

Even in a busy week for the political press, Schrock’s resignation strikes us as a story worthy of note beyond the local level — especially given the saturation media coverage that greeted New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey’s earlier announcements that he would resign from office and that he is a “gay American.” But as of noon today, none of the network or cable news reports had even mentioned Schrock, according to TVEyes. (The only mentions that came up anywhere on television today were four brief, early morning local news reports.) The New York Times ran a brief Associated Press story on page A12; the Wall Street Journal, in its print edition, didn’t mention Schrock at all. isn’t running the story on its politics page, either, though perhaps it had more important things to worry about: Under the politics header on the front page, CNN offered readers a story headlined “Five questions with Don King.” (Sample question: “How is politics like boxing?”)

We tend to think the media should be reticent to delve into the personal lives of office holders, particularly when issues of public policy are not at issue. But in this case, the press seems to have dropped the ball. Schrock, after all, has been, up until now, seeking political gain by parroting rhetoric and proposing legislation that many consider at odds with his personal choices. When a congressman resigns in the face of his own apparent hypocrisy, that’s news. (Note to CNN: It might be even more important than what Jack Cafferty had for breakfast this morning.)

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Brian Montopoli is a writer at CJR Daily.