London’s Sunday Times on the gay rumors that continue to swirl around Condoleezza Rice:
It should have been Condoleezza Rice’s finest hour as US secretary of state: at last President George W Bush was hosting a Middle East peace conference that she had been struggling to organise for months.
Yet when Rice’s photograph appeared on the front page of America’s bestselling weekly newspaper last week, it had nothing to do with her peacemaking efforts. She had been dragged into a National Enquirer article headlined “Who’s Gay and Who’s Not”.
The article revived long-standing Washington gossip about Rice’s sexuality and sparked off the usual flurry of internet chatter about her high-profile role in a Republican administration widely regarded as hostile to gays.
It also underlined the increasing friction in American politics between a high-minded media establishment disdainful of bedroom gossip and the no-holds-barred, consumer-driven world of instant internet scandal. A Google search of the words “Condoleezza” and “lesbian” last week yielded 146,000 hits.
Rice was not alone in falling victim to what the US media elite invariably decries as corrupted journalistic standards but what the rest of America seems to regard as the real story in Washington: who is sleeping with whom?
“Internet scandal” versus “high-minded media”. In this case, at least, I think the internet has it right.