Let me begin with this. If the National Enquirer wrote a story about me cheating on my wife with five women, I had better be extremely definitive in my response; because if I’m not, my wife –smelling the guilt – would kick my ass. OK, let me also tell you that I wouldn’t be angry; in fact, I’d be ecstatic. It’s fun to count money from guaranteed punitive and compensatory damages in a multimillion dollar lawsuit.
But that’s me. I can’t speak for Senator Ted Cruz except to say that so far his reaction seems —well, not exactly definitive. He calls it “garbage and false,” not exactly a denial. Then he plays the victim, calling it an attack on his family; “offensive to Heidi and me, they’re offensive to our daughters,” he writes.
Actually, it’s not an offense aimed at your wife or your daughters; it’s aimed at you, Senator. Then, there’s the attack on Donald Trump.
While Americans were coming to grips with the story, news outlets were running away from it. Running is bad enough, but framing the story incorrectly is even worse.
- Rick Sanchez
“Donald Trump’s consistently disgraceful behavior is beneath the office we are seeking and we are not going to follow,” says Cruz. Seriously Senator, you’re accused of cheating with five women and you’re attacking Donald Trump? Sounds like an O.J. defense to me — just point at Mark Fuhrman and hope everyone will look away.
Let me be clear. I don’t know if Senator Cruz has been completely faithful to his wife or has slept with every aid he’s ever laid his eyes on. What I do know is that because he’s positioned himself as the evangelical candidate, he best leave no wiggle room in his response. And thus far, I see a ton of wiggle and jiggle.
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One other thing, our media better figure out how to play this story and soon, because so far it seems to be responding with coverage that is a combination of confusion, obfuscation and downright stupidity.
This story broke over the weekend as the #CruzSexScandal. The hash tag, as it’s now known on Twitter and other social media sites, blew up right as Americans were gathering for the Easter holiday — no doubt making Cruz a main topic of conversation at many a family gatherings.
But while Americans were coming to grips with the story, news outlets were running away from it. Running is bad enough, but framing the story incorrectly is even worse. By Friday afternoon, networks resigned themselves to covering the story essentially this way: "Ted Cruz is defending himself against Donald Trump’s accusations about cheating on his wife."
Apparently, that’s the editorial line someone in a corporate office at a network like CNN chooses so as to not sully itself. In other words, CNN chooses to cover the story from a distance — or better said, chooses to cover it wearing neoprene coated latex gloves so as to not get dirty.
More clearly, the decision goes something like this: "It can’t look like we’re covering a story about a politician who’s allegedly been serially cheating on his wife, so let’s change the narrative to a story about a politician who accuses another politician of making up a story about him cheating on his wife." Problem solved? No!
Two issues here. One, the story is not stagnant. It’s organic – evolving and changing – and journalists look stupid when they’re forced to ignore developments that millions of people on social media outlets have been discussing for hours. The essence of the story is ignored, as are all developments and subsequent conversations among millions of people. It’s what happens when you put coverage of the reaction, before the action.
Problem number two: In an effort to make themselves look like they are clean, they get in the dirt with Cruz’s unsubstantiated allegation that Trump planted the story. (Note: Subsequent reporting by several credible outlets now show it wasn’t Trump, but rather the Rubio camp that was feverishly peddling #CruzSexScandal story).
Let me note for the record here that I’m no fan of Donald Trump. As a Latino, I find his "rapists" offense to the point of unpardonable, so I take no pleasure in having to defend him when I say there is absolutely no evidence that he’s responsible for the National Enquirer story.
We Floridians know our Palm Beach geography well enough to understand that just because both Trump and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker both live and work in the same area and because they talk to each other frequently and attend the same parties, that doesn’t mean they’re in cahoots or that one can control the actions of the other.
OMG, if that were true then we could say that every story that comes out of our national media – 90 percent of which is centered in the Northeast and where like-minded reporters, publishers and news makers frequently gather and freely associate – is a product of some form of collaboration, arrangement or scheme. Of course that would be ridiculous, right? Hmm!