However, the thin national security implications of this scandal have put the American media out on a limb. In the Petraeus case, the compromise of secrets does not seem to have been an issue, and no laws seem to have been broken (although in the case of Gen. John Allen, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, adultery can be a crime in the tradition-oriented military, even in this day and age). So the sensationalist American media risks looking as if it’s just digging for, well … details of top U.S. officials’ sexual relationships—the ultimate in gotcha political journalism.
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Nothing titillates the nation’s capital like a sex scandal masquerading as a policy controversy. The American news media will use any excuse to get into public officials’ private lives so it can try to achieve the ratings of Entertainment Tonight–style celebrity gossip shows while maintaining a veneer of “responsible journalism.” In America’s unique celebrity-driven culture, this phenomenon happens in political campaigns as well as in the current scandal involving David Petraeus, the recently cashiered CIA spy chief.
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