The Spectacle Blog

The Character Assassination of Christine O’Donnell

By on 10.28.10 | 3:48PM

This post is going under the fold, because it will be of interest only to people angered by the latest hit piece on Christine O'Donnell. 

A hugely influential gossip blog posted a detailed and humiliating (but not actually especially damning) personal account of a Philadelphia man's sexual encounter with Christine O'Donnell a few years ago, complete with pictures of O'Donnell allegedly drinking with the man in a bar. Although the piece is unverified and petty, it has already generated a ton of traffic for the site and will probably gain at least several hundred thousand views. 

The particular blog, Gawker, has always made it clear that there is nothing they won't publish, so it's hard to get mad at them for publishing this guy's shameful and slimy betrayal of O'Donnell. And it wouldn't even be so bad if the story centered on any one of the thousands of celebrities for whom sleazy, intrusive journalism is the name of the game, who trade on notoriety, and whose lifestyles naturally captivate people with regular lives and jobs. 

Instead, what bothers me is the huge audience of political watchers and voters who will likely reward Gawker by reading the post with glee and passing it along. We are a few days away from an enormously consequential election. Christine O'Donnell is one doomed candidate among thousands of other candidates, and a fringe participant in an event that will shape peoples' lives in real ways. The amount of educated, politically knowledgeable people who find titillation in the eccentricities of harmless candidate who happens to have an unusual background and a lack of political polish is a sad commentary on the nearly absolute debasement of American discourse. 

O'Donnell is a crazy and incendiary character. But she's irrelevant. Question: how many of the people who read that post and revel in her humiliation have heard of Rick Snyder? He's poised to take Democrat Jennifer Granholm's seat as governor of Michigan. He is a successful businessman and CEO of a venture capital firm he founded, and earned a JD/MBA from the University of Michigan at the age of 23. If the gratuitous shaming of Christine O'Donnell delights you and yet you don't know about Rick Snyder's campaign, think hard about why that might be. Most likely, it's because you're a clown. 

Lastly, the Gawker item doesn't reveal the name of the guy who claims to have hooked up with O'Donnell, and it crops him from the photos of her. If this guy thinks that he can preserve his anonymity after selling his story to a popular blog, complete with tons of identifying and corroborating details, he's got a rude surprise in wait. I'm guessing it's only a matter of hours until he is identified, and a rival blog puts up a post about him. The damage to his personal reputation will exceed whatever payment Gawker gave him, and rightfully so. 

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