From a media relations standpoint it is an interesting time to see how the news media operates regarding a pair of events.
A Kansas Congressman, Kevin Yoder, undresses at an official function in front of wives and family members and swims nude in the Sea of Galilee. A Missouri Senatorial candidate, Todd Akin, uses the term “legitimate rape” during an interview four days ago.
Yoder goes on a quick apology tour and the news media is ready to move on. Akin apologizes profusely over and over in interviews and on paid TV ads and the news media and talk shows continue to pile on endlessly.
The lead editiorial in the Kansas City Star (8/23) proclaims,” Akin’s Weak ‘Apologies’ Compound his Offenses.” It again eviserates the candidate and says he should now be removed from the House science committee. The cutline under his photo proclaims “Todd Akin’s explanations of his viewpoints still don’t make much sense.”
From a political standpoint there was no doubt that the Star was going to endorse Akins opponent former Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Claire McCaskill for re-election. The newspaper has endorsed her for every political office she has ever sought during her career. Many polls had shown her trailing in the race until Akin’s remarks.
However, the continuous piling on Akin while dismissing Yoder’s actions as simply “salacious” as one ethics professor declared on Steve Kraske’s KCUR show today seems a bit disengenuous. Even agenda-driven.
“What Yoder did was far, far worse than Akin’s ignorant remarks,” says another local ethics professor, who wishes to remain anonymous. ”If I was at a teachers meeting and stripped down and dived into the water I guarantee my job would be over.
“As a society we would not permit a teacher or policeman to do that, and a corporation would not permit a sales representative to behave in such a manner,” she adds. “Their jobs would definitely be in jeopardy.”
She noted a recent story of a high school teacher who posted on her personal Facebook page a picture of her drinking while while touring a brewery while on vacation in Ireland. She was fired because some parents felt she was encouraging alcohol use to her students.
“Why do we hold a teacher on a personal vacation to a higher standard that we would an elected official?” asks the professor. “Yoder was on official business as a Congressman representing the United States in a foreign country on a junket paid for by a foregin country.
“Ethically, would any company allow its representative to take several thousands of dollars as a personal gift and then feel comfortable that they would be able to make decisions fairly when their benefactor is involved? In other words, the question becomes Yoder has accepted a gift from Israel. Will this color his judgment when he votes on matters involving Israel?
“Maybe the news media should be asking itself why it took a full year before this story even came out. That is a question that is very troubling.”
Ironically, while Yoder admitted he had been drinking before shedding his clothes on the Israel junket, no media members have brought up his 2009 incident where he pled guilty to refusing to take a preliminary breath test after being pulled over by police at 2:31 a.m. for speeding.