Someone awaking from a really long coma and forced to watch morning network and cable news shows might think the biggest story facing the civilized world today involves a wandering Weiner.
The serial sexting of New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner is not the biggest story in the world, but it is the favorite of journalists working in New York, the ones who decide what makes the cut on network and cable news shows.
Politics and political reporting often fall under the spell of the Beltway Mentality, defined as an affliction suffered by people working in Washington, D.C. who eventually believe everything that happens within the beltway encircling the nation’s capital is important to everyone living outside the beltway.
Big Apple journalists develop a similar New York state of mind that convinces them everything happening in their city is important to everyone living outside the city.
Network and cable news shows devote entire segments, sometimes whole programs, to Weiner, who resigned from Congress after sending pictures of his prominent package to someone other than his wife.
Now we learn Weiner pulled another boner by engaging in similar lewd and tawdry exchanges with another someone other than his wife after he resigned and got into therapy.
The fact that Weiner did not practice safe sexting and refuses to pull out of the race is hard news only to the people in New York, really. For the rest of us, it is just cheap chuckle material not worth hours of exposure.
I have not put a stop watch on it, but I am willing to bet your momma’s paycheck that San Diego’s nasty mayor has not received the kind of close examination as has New York’s Weiner.
As of this writing, seven women have publicly accused Bob Filner (a Democrat who served in Congress with Weiner, but apparently not in congress) with inappropriate sexual behavior ranging from unwanted kissing to unwanted headlocking.
Filner has gone through two chiefs-of-staff in as many weeks, the city attorney has said Filner cannot be alone with women on city property, and his former communications director has filed a lawsuit claiming Filner asked her not to wear panties to work.
It is possible Filthy Filner committed an actual crime along the way, something millions of Americans have not done, including Weiner.
The same cannot be said for sex texting, though.
A survey by the Pew Research Center found about 15 percent of adults in this country have received a sex text. Using U.S. Census numbers, that comes to more than 35.5 million, or about 14 million more than live in the entire state of New York.
The survey also found about 6 percent have sent a sex text. That’s more than 14.2 million. And virtually all of them are under the age of 45, according to the survey.
So, with that many people sexting, is it really news? To answer that question, we might look at what the journalists in Topeka, Kan., are covering.
Why Topeka? Because that’s the city in the Shel Silverstein song “One’s on the way.”
For youngsters, Loretta Lynn had a hit in 1971 with the tune that told us even though the White House social season may be “glittering and gay” (in a time before gay was gay), in Topeka, “the rain is a-fallin’ . . . the kids are a-brawlin’. . . one is a-crawlin’ and one’s on the way.”
Folks in Topeka are not waiting for the next Weiner sighting; they’re talking about the second drive-by shooting on one street in one week.
In Topeka, people are reading about a move to change the state’s law that lets a judge sentence a person convicted of first-degree murder to a minimum of 50 years in prison before the possibility of parole. It’s known as the Hard 50 sentencing law. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that juries, not judges, should have the final say in such cases.
One Topeka Hard 50 case hit the national news trifecta in 2009 when a jury convicted Scott Roeder of using a (1) gun to kill (2) an abortion doctor during (3) church services.
In Topeka, when the folks talk about Hard 50, they’re talking about real crimes, not the number of lurid photos sent by a nasty politician to even nastier groupies.
And, in Topeka, those flies that are a-buzzin’ are not covering the member of a former member of Congress.
John David Powell writes his Lone Star Award-winning columns from Shadey Hill Ranch in Texas. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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