The Lasting Impact of Gary Hart’s Sex Scandal on Presidential Politics
In All the Truth Is Out, readers are taken on a journey to discover how today’s political coverage has become so vapid.
Before Gary Hart, presidential hopefuls could make candid remarks about their policies, allowing them to connect with voters as well as giving journalists meaningful insight into what they stood for.
However, when Hart’s career was derailed by a sex scandal, it changed political journalism forever: politicians became extremely careful and calculated in their interactions with the press, and gone were the days of honest dialogue between candidates and reporters.
The consequences of Hart’s rise and fall can still be felt today – from John Kerry regretting his fateful sentence during an interview with the author to Bill Clinton surviving his extramarital affair when Gary Hart didn’t.
Even JFK would have found himself in trouble if he were alive today, as modern-day political journalists play amateur detective and scrutinize every word uttered by a candidate for potential controversy or blunders.
Gary Hart: An Intellectual Prophet Ahead of His Time
Gary Hart was one of the most exciting and intelligent presidential candidates of his generation.
As a US Senator from Colorado, he had a strong academic background and came from a devout Christian family.
He attended Yale Divinity School before completing his studies at Yale Law.
Apart from being a brilliant scholar, Hart also had an unparalleled intellect when it comes to politics, history and culture.
Richard Ben Cramer even referred to this special gift of his as “Hart Facts”.
His ability to look far into the future with prophetic foresight proved itself when Hart predicted in 2002 that the United States would eventually engage Iraq militarily with disastrous consequences – something we can all relate to today!
Additionally, he had warned before the Great Recession of 2008 that growing inequality and market recklessness would lead to a depression.
If you’re looking for an inspirational figure in politics who truly understood the complex world around him, then look no further than Gary Hart!
The Unstoppable Force of Gary Hart: How An Anti-Establishment Democrat Revolutionized Presidential Campaigning
It was clear that Gary Hart had made his mark in American politics as he easily emerged as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1987.
His political reformist policies had put him far ahead of his competitors, including those who were attempting to emulate him such as Joe Biden.
Known as the “new Garys”, they had no chance of beating Hart at the polls.
Hart’s campaign was unorthodox and avoided much of the usual politicking tactics that would typically be seen from presidential hopefuls reaching out to big industry and seeking out media interviews.
Instead he took an anti-establishment approach, focusing more on big ideas rather than popular narratives and delivering speeches about post-Cold War America and economic reforms across the country.
This earned him even more favor amongst voters, leading top commentators such as Jack Germond to christen Hart “an unstoppable force in presidential politics”.
Building with remarkable speed up to the 1988 election, it was clear that Hart was a firm favorite in both opinion polls and popular appeal – they only increased with his unique style of campaigning and progressive policy proposals.
The Gary Hart Scandal and How It Changed the Way We Evaluate Presidential Candidates
Media scrutiny certainly serves a valuable purpose.
Before the 1988 presidential election, journalists were already beginning to examine candidates’ personal and private lives in order to help inform voters’ decisions at the ballot box.
Gary Hart was no exception to this rule, with reporters looking into his past during the 1984 presidential nomination campaign.
However, what ultimately derailed and destroyed Hart’s campaign was a new breed of media inquiry that was looking for something beyond policy details: gossip and tabloid news that had nothing to do with Hart’s qualifications as president.
In 1987, an anonymous tip led to scandalous accusations regarding Hart’s extramarital affair with Miss South Carolina Donna Rice; a Herald news team staked out Hart’s townhouse in Washington D.C., looking for evidence to corroborate the claims.
With these rumors now circulating about Hart’s womanizing reputation, he ended up withdrawing from the race leading up to the 1988 National Democratic Convention due to the extreme public attention surrounding him.
Media scrutiny does play an important role in informing the public, but it should never descend into unscrupulous tactics such as those applied against Gary Hart which proved detrimental to his presidential campaign and career.
How Gary Hart’s 1988 Fall Changed the Way Politicians’ Private Lives Were Viewed by the Media
For years, politicians’ private indiscretions were seen as irrelevant to their qualifications for office.
In fact, past presidents and presidential candidates such as Franklin D.
Roosevelt, John F.
Kennedy, and Lyndon B.
Johnson were all known to have engaged in extramarital affairs – both prior to and during their presidencies – with the knowledge of journalists not resulting in further investigation or any consequences for their behavior.
Even when a New York Times reporter was sent by his editor to follow President Kennedy on one of his trips to New York City in 1963, details of him visiting a certain prominent actress at his hotel went unreported due to lack of relevance or interest from the public.
Gary Hart’s similar situation before his 1988 campaign was overlooked by the media as well, who instead focused more broad topics such as economic plans or bribery allegations than private indiscretions.
It wasn’t until Hart’s scandal caused enough uproar that political media coverage completely changed and began to pay closer attention to more personal matters regarding figures in office.
The Watergate Scandal: How It Changed Journalism Forever
The Watergate scandal of the 1970s drastically changed the role of political journalism.
Prior to Watergate, journalists believed that certain details about the personal lives of politicians were off-limits; however, after the scandal broke, there was suddenly no greater prize in political journalism than uncovering what politicians were up to.
The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein became household names after they exposed the Nixon administration’s lies surrounding Watergate.
They also found financial success, and their story was turned into a movie starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.
The public’s interest in politics only increased as TV news arrived on the scene in 1980 with Ted Turner’s launch of CNN and the Crossfire program.
Political debate shows, such as Crossfire, elevated opinion pieces over factual reporting, allowing people to tune into their preferred side.
In sum, Watergate gave rise to an era where uncovering lies by politicians was prized and crucial for journalists, while TV news allowed opinions to take centre stage over reporting facts.
The Age of Electronic News Gathering Transforms Political Reporting in the Post-Cold War Era
The advent of new technology changed the way news was reported during the post-Cold War period.
Specifically, the emergence of Electronic News Gathering (ENG) in the early 1980s allowed news to be broadcasted in real time to any location with satellite technology.
This differed significantly from the old approach, which involved filming at the scene and transporting physical tapes back to the studio before they could be aired on TV.
In 1986, CNN revolutionized live news coverage by introducing lightweight “flyaway dishes” that made it easier for reporters to get breaking news interviews on air from anywhere.
As a result,the 1988 presidential campaign was covered 24/7 for the first time ever, transforming established principles about what constitutes as news and altering how quickly information can travel today.
Technological advances now enable newscasters to go live and shuttle information at tremendous pace around the country.
This has shifted our criteria for determining what is considered “newsworthy” – stories are chosen based solely on their ability to capture peoples’ attention or be sensationalized rather than discussed in relation to public interest.
Michael Dukakis’ photoshoot with an oversized helmet in a tank exemplifies this shift away from discussing political substance towards supplying entertainment value.
The Hart Effect: How Gary Hart’s Fall From Grace Changed Political Journalism Forever
Following the scandal that stalked Gary Hart’s presidential campaign, American and world politics changed dramatically.
With Hart at the centre of a media storm, journalists began to prioritize personal stories over policy discussions – shining a light into every corner of their targets’ lives.
This trend quickly went global, with 1989 seeing heads of state in both Greece and Japan facing sex-related scandals that forced them from office.
In the US too this shift set the tone for modern political coverage – with both Richard Celeste and George H.W.
Bush being scrutinized for their behaviour over public policy.
Since then, political journalism has become more focused on looking for lies, inconsistency or character flaws in politicians as opposed to policy debates; an increase in transparency amongst candidates followed suit as advisors advised them to open up parts of their private life previously off-limits to the public.
How Bill Clinton’s Talent for Showmanship Overshadowed His Policy Platform in a Political Culture Obsessed with Scandal
It’s become abundantly clear that the way we now measure presidents and presidential candidates has very little to do with their policies or their aptitude for governance, and much more to do with the showmanship they bring to the role.
This is made starkly evident when looking at the differences between Gary Hart and Bill Clinton – in many ways quite similar – yet worlds apart in terms of how they were perceived.
Hart was thought of by many as an aloof loner, whereas Clinton had a magnetic personality which served him well.
He wasn’t afraid to play on street corners or make appearances on MTV, strategically spreading misinformation about his affair with Monica Lewinsky all along the way.
These are the kinds of traits that can help a presidential candidate gain traction among the public – something Hart couldn’t master – even if it means lying or manipulating people into believing some semblance of truth.
At this point we’ve allowed our admiration for candidates to be based solely on their showmanship, rather than their positions and governing capabilities.
Sadly, appearance and entertainment are often more valued than actual leadership qualities.
Politicians Have Turned to Rhetorical Armour to Protect Themselves from Media Attacks
With the ever-prying eyes of the media upon presidential candidates, they have become more insulated.
Candidates no longer feel comfortable discussing substantial issues in detail and instead opt to use one-liners that impart a nice and fluffy message but have little to no relevance.
This means that even if they have great policy approaches they want to share with the public, they simply don’t bother explaining their theories anymore.
Take John Kerry for example.
During a four-hour interview with the author, he expressed his opinion on terrorism and was then taken out of context, resulting in wide-spread coverage of the quote; ultimately leading to the snuffing out of his presidential ambitions.
Can you imagine how much his aides wished that misunderstood quote never left Kerry’s lips? It goes without saying that now presidential hopefuls do their utmost to avoid any comments that can be misconstrued and detrimental to their upcoming election campaign.
Barack Obama is a classic example of someone who is adept at using vacuous statements in order to protect himself from scrutiny or heavy criticism.
His “hope” and “change” mantras gave those words an aura of progressivism without actually committing himself to actual progressivism during his term – just empty rhetoric, really!
Political figures like Obama know that every single word could mean potential ruin for their career so by crafting statements with no substance whatsoever helps provide them with “rhetorical armor”.
The overall message of Gary Hart’s sex scandal in All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid is clear: politics has forever been changed since this unfortunate scandal occurred.
This shift has shown up in the coverage of political journalism, altering the content and quality of all political discourse.
Furthermore, it has redefined what we expect from good leaders.
At its core, this book offers an insight into how one moment in history can have a lasting effect on an entire society and how deeply it can shape our beliefs and behaviours.
It serves as a reminder to be mindful of our actions, consequences, and implications for generations to come.