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Since the internet video of Mitt Romney’s private comments went viral, everyone from Chris Matthews to Jon Stewart have taken a jab at the Republican candidate. As right and righteous they may be in pointing out that Governor Romney wasn’t completely accurate about what he said, they all miss an issue that exemplifies a sad truth about today’s political culture: we champion transparency over civility and believe public knowledge is more important than privacy without any respect to the setting or importance the two have in a given situation.
Intimate campaigns have happened for years behind doors. Like locker-room conversations and pillow talk, the personal part of campaigning is necessarily more private. And those discussions should remain private. Whether Romney exagerrated, “stretched the truth,” or even lied doesn’t really matter. If he was talking about something malicious, the people have a right to know. But, as unpopular opinion as it may be, I believe there is an expectation of privacy at private functions that should be honored. Breach of that privacy should only occur on rare occassions when the public good is threatened, not to score mudslinging points.
It is taken for granted that Romney’s statements should be public because he is a presidential candidate. Being so, what has been termed a “gaffe” has become ripe foder for the left side of the entertainment news to talk about how wrong he is and how right they are. This is perfect opportunity for the right side of the entertainment news to defend itself and gain readers through the same emotional appeal to voters than was meant for a private conversation. In covering the story, they are both right. Both wrong.