The St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Washington correspondent, Chuck Raasch, occasionally indulges in the tired whinging about the Beltway’s (media) neglect of the good, solid folks in “flyover” country, a complaint we often hear, especially from Beltway journos intent on separating themselves from the herd by pretending to have a special line direct to the long-suffering, salt-of-the-earth folks hiding in the heartland (another tired designation for the center of the country). His latest complaint seems to be that, thanks to Eric Greitens, Missouri’s got an honest-to-god, big-time sex and corruption scandal and isn’t getting any credit for it:
For the record, on the day after a scathing legislative report on Greitens, one co-authored by five Republicans in which Republican Missouri House Speaker Todd Richardson labeled allegations against the Republican governor “very disturbing,” the Washington Post did not mention the report in its paper edition. It did, however, have four stories encompassing 140 column inches and five editorials or opinion columns on the resignation of House Speaker Paul Ryan.
For the record, the WaPo did report on latest in the Greitens brouhaha on the next day’s paper edition, just as they – and, as I can personally attest, numerous other national outlets – have reported regularly on the latest developments in the seemingly endless Greitens saga. (And shoudn’t Raasch be more interested in the digital version of the paper which likely has greater reach?)
If larger, coastal newspapers aren’t saturating their front pages with Greitens naughty behavior, as lamented by Raasch and Helaine Olen, whose WaPo article on the subject Raasch references, one of the reasons is that the practical considerations our Missouri scandal raises are probably of greater interest to the citizens of Missouri who will have to live with the consequences than it is to folks elsewhere. And who would expect anything else?
Of course, there’s also the fact that sex sandals are a dime a dozen lately. When the President of the United States is implicated in paying off porn actresses and Playboy models – and stands accused of eleven (or is it more?) instances of sexual assault, Greitens’ efforts seemed to be, at least until the most recent revelations of abusive behavior, essentially subpar. Olen speculates that Greitens isn’t getting his due measure of shaming:
… partly because the Trump presidency is a news black hole, sucking up so much of our attention that almost nothing else can break through. But it’s also because the Trump administration, by ratcheting up the bounds of what is acceptable — at least to President Trump — is ensuring that actions that would normally shock all of us fly under the news radar.
As for Greitens’ alleged corruption – isn’t corruption the Republican way of life nowadays?
None of which is to say that newspapers have actually failed to report on the ever more salacious Greitens scandal. The issue is that bad behavior, that of both Greitens and Trump, doesn’t seem to result in serious outrage, no matter how many folks are reading all the sordid details of life in the political fast lane.
Nor should we ignore the judgemental fingers pointed by various pundits over the past weeks. Ruth Marcus, also of The Washington Post, compared Greitens’ situation to that of the scandal-ridden EPA head, Scott Pruitt – three days before Olen lamented the lack of coverage and four days prior to Raach’s article. Like Olen, Marcus credits Trump’s Little of Circus of Horrors for the lack of consequences, declaring, “that Greitens and Pruitt remain in office, as of this writing, says something — not just about them, but about the degraded state of our politics.” Yep. And about Republicans too – don’t forget the prime enablers.
Finally, if Raasch wants Missouri to get credit for it’s own brand of sordid, he’ll definitely be gratified by the fact that Talking Points Memo has awarded Greitens one of its weekly Golden Duke awards. The Golden Duke, “named for former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, is given to a political figure by TPM following an attention-grabbing display of corruption, abuse of power, or risible behavior.” TPM’s editor, Josh Marshall, after detailing Greitens’ offenses, asserts that he deserves the award, because of “his refusal to read the writing on the wall.” He adds:
It’s unclear if Greitens will change his mind and voluntarily step down, be impeached, or attempt to ride out the allegations. But it appears he’ll have to adjust his political ambitions; he will likely have little use for the ericgreitensforpresident.com domain name he registered.
One can only hope.