Idaho Senator Larry Craig’s resignation today shows just how powerful the media can be. The media caused him to leave the Senate, not just Craig’s poor judgment when he tried to make his June arrest go away.
History will show how ridiculous it was that a man who served the public for most of his life could have his world change so drastically in a flash.
Craig reacted out of fear when he said he was guilty of the so-called “crime” for which he was arrested. When we react out of fear, the fear often comes back to bite us.
The fear came from years of being dogged by the Idaho Statesman’s allegations that he was a homosexual — allegations they could never prove.
When the national media stated time after time that Craig has a “long history of being suspected of homosexual behavior,” they were talking about the Idaho Statesman’s long time investigation. One newspaper had that much power.
Why has the media not interviewed the arresting officer? Why has the media failed to address the Minneapolis police department’s use of entrapment to make arrests for all kinds of crimes, and the lawsuits filed against the department alleging illegal entrapment?
The public chose to believe a police officer over a senator. A police officer who lied to Craig, telling him the media would not find out about the arrest.
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Many people have pleaded guilty for crimes they did not commit because law enforcement officers, attorneys, and even judges have pushed them into a corner.
The Idaho Statesman did not break the story, and that must have bothered them after all the years they spent hoping they could smear Craig for being a homosexual. Roll Call broke the story. The Idaho Statesman’s editor lied in an interview on Fox News when he stated that they sat on the story since they learned about the arrest in May. Hello! The arrest was in June.
Craig and his family are people of faith, and Craig will survive and be blessed with a new and meaningful role. He alludes to a plan to take legal action, and notes that his name is important to him and his family. Will it be a libel suit against media that purposefully set out to destroy his reputation? I would love to see him sue the Statesman and other media for libel, and also take legal action against the Minneapolis police department. But most of all, I would like to see him deal with the fear he felt that led him to make such a poor choice when he caved into a cop that should have been arresting people committing actual crimes.
The public should demand that the Idaho Statesman and all media be much more thorough and responsible in their coverage.
How may other public figures are the media scrutinizing for their sexual behavior? It is naive to think Craig is the only victim of what he calls a “witch hunt.” Reporters investigate public figures all the time, and many dream more of breaking a story that would bring someone down than of writing news that serves the community.
Well, Idaho Statesman, you did just that with your own state senator. But you failed to substantiate any rumor about Craig. Your investigation caused people to wonder about his sexuality when it should have caused them to wonder about your journalism ethics. You have abused your power and put a huge black mark on your state. It will be a long time before the Larry Craig jokes go away, and Idaho deserves more.
Editor of the Island Park News, a weekly newspaper and daily Web site published in Island Park, Idaho.