Dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers in everybody's pie
We love to cut you down to size
Nevertheless, I want to share two lessons we can learn, if we haven't figured them out already. First, we love a juicy story. Petraeus represents power, Broadwell represents the wide-eyed admirer, and Kelley is a down-on-her-luck wife and mother with unofficial ties to military leadership who is sucked into international intrigue. If you don't think tawdry tales like this are hot, peruse the magazines at the supermarket checkout. Reporters "do 'the innuendo,'" but "we all know that Crap is King."
"Then we learn that she triggered an FBI probe by sending what were perceived as harassing e-mails to a military volunteer in Tampa -- and that a friendly FBI agent allegedly sent that woman shirtless photos. All of which was a prelude to the reports that Gen. John Allen, who in his spare time is running the war in Afghanistan, exchanged up to 30,000 e-mails with said Tampa woman." (http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/15/opinion/kurtz-media-petraeus/index.html)
"All the news that's fit to print," claims the New York Times (or "fit to click" in its online form). A juicy story, even in a rumor form, can wreck lives and careers -- and your organization if it happens to someone you work for or with. I once worked at a corporate headquarters where the COO was known to be a ladies' man. His affairs never reached the headlines, but they could have. I was too naive to recognize the risk to the company, and if I had, I would have been too intimidated to point out this smoldering crisis. We can't afford environments where even lowly editorial services associates like me don't pass along potential crises.
The second thing to take away from this coverage is that perhaps we need to cut a break to those in the news who are conveniently not available for comment. I've often been critical in my posts, usually with good reasons, when someone offers a no comment or doesn't return calls before deadline.
When is deadline? These days, deadline is 60 seconds from now. I wonder how often the unavailable for comment is really the reporter saying, "I've got to beat those other guys with this gem of a story and can't wait for a statement."