Saturday, October 18, 2008

Online Predators

It's an unfortunate reality of the digital age - young people who have Facebook accounts are often the target of online predators, who trade in the trusting nature of youth and attempt to use that trust for their own perverted purposes. It's important that we share these sorts of stories so we can prevent something tragic from happening.

The story begins this way: a 16-year-old girl gets an unexpected note. The note inquires about a girl who might attend the same school. The writer wants to know more about this other girl and, oddly, about her relationship with her mother. The reasons? Well, let the note speak for itself:

I saw on facebook that you went to Xavier, and if you don’t mind, I’d love to ask you some advice about a story. I’m a reporter at the New York Times, writing a profile of Cindy McCain, and we are trying to get a sense of what she is like as a mother. So I’m reaching out to fellow parents at her kids’ schools. My understanding is that some of her older kids went to Brophy/Xavier, but I’m trying to figure out what school her 16 year old daughter Bridget attends– and a few people said it was PCDS. Do you know if that’s right? Again, we’re not really reporting on the kids, just seeking some fellow parents who can talk about what Mrs. McCain is like.

Also, if you know anyone else who I should talk to– basically anyone who has encountered Mrs. McCain and might be able to share impressions– that would be great.

Thanks so much for any help you can give me.

Jodi Kantor
Political correspondent
New York Times

Not too suprisingly, the note came to the attention of the McCain campaign, which released its contents. The McCains indeed do have a daughter named Bridget. She is the girl that the McCains adopted from Bangladesh. It's a well-known story.

Where to begin on something like this? Let's just list off a few of the pieties we've heard in recent years about families of politicians should be treated. The Clintons famously asked that their daughter Chelsea be kept off-limits from scrutiny. It was a reasonable request and the MSM largely respected it. The Obamas have asked that their daughters be free from scrutiny as well, also a reasonable request and the MSM has complied. Barack Obama has asked that his wife be kept off-limits, a more problematic request since she is an integral part of his campaign, but coverage of her has been limited. I am glad that the MSM has chosen to respect the privacy of Chelsea Clinton and the two Obama daughters.

What would be nice is if the same courtesy were to apply to both sides. Clearly, that is not the case. The piece that Kantor was working on ran in today's edition of the Times. It's a remarkably catty piece that doesn't seek to illuminate as much as to diminish. It would be unthinkable that the Times would publish anything remotely as critical of Michelle Obama or Jill Biden. You can even see the hole that Kantor was trying to fill in the story:

Some of Mr. McCain’s Washington friends say they have barely met Mrs. McCain, while fellow mothers at their children’s schools say they have little sense of her husband.

That may or may not be true. It may not even be relevant. But as this campaign continues, more and more people are getting a sense of people like Jodi Kantor.

Cross-posted at True North


Brad Carlson said...

Some of Mr. McCain’s Washington friends say they have barely met Mrs. McCain...

Would you introduce your attractive wife to some of those sleazy philanderers in Washington?

Hammerswing75 said...

Ah, but did you see the letter Mrs. McCain's lawyer sent to them? It was, shall we say, tart.

Gino said...

the media tipped themselves rather effectivley in their dealing with palin's family.

Gino said...

ben: can you link that?

Hammerswing75 said...


It's at the end of this post.