David Simon is disturbed by coverage of Petraeus:

I can remember the specific moment when I swore off the sex lives of the famous as journalistic currency.  It was the case of a national sportscaster — I won’t name him, but, alas, most of those old enough will remember the name, which is regrettable — whose sex life had suddenly become the media chow. …

Hypocrisy will never go out of style in American journalism or American life. But sitting there and watching the rewrite and sports desk mobilize to surround the sexual wanderings of a sportscaster, I remember making a decision: Enough. This is just sex. This is nothing more than the odd, notable penis or the odd, notable vagina staggering off the marked path and rubbing against the wrong tree.  This is just people.

I told myself that I wasn’t in journalism to chase something so ordinary, so adolescent as other people’s sexuality, that I wouldn’t play this game, that there were better reasons to be a reporter, and there were better things for readers to consume. I knew that one soldier opting out from such a lurid and exalted battlefield of the media wars meant nothing, but I did it anyway. …

I’m neither an admirer nor detractor of General Petraeus. But I am most definitely a detractor of what journalism has become in this country, of what passes for the qualitative analysis of our society and its problems. And I’ve paid enough attention to the human condition to no longer take seriously the notion that anyone who lets penis or vagina rub against the wrong person, who is indiscreet in doing so, and who then tells the truth about it when confronted by an FBI agent is unfit for either citizenship or public service.

I certainly know enough about the human condition to know that all kinds of people — smart and dumb, powerful and powerless — are capable of finding themselves in such a circumstance and shaking their heads at just how far they strayed, at just how indiscreet they were in their very ordinary, human hunger, and how they have hurt those closest to them. Sex, done right, is some powerful shit. And when Americans begin to accept the human condition for what it is rather than an opportunity to jeer at the other fellow for getting caught, then we will be, if nothing else, a little bit more grown up.

David Simon

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  • JH

    Yeah, the media goes too far with sex scandals. They also go too far with everything. That’s just how it’s done these days.

  • http://www.facebook.com/terry.mccoy.1690 Terry McCoy

    While I agree with the sentiment, I think David Simon needs to get over himself. Today’s journalists do phenomenal work — always more with less. And anyone who’s made it to this point, and is still inside a newsroom, deserves respect. Here’s the issue: sex sells. Always has and always will. And in an era when every click and page counted is tabulated and distributed to staff — when, finally, there’s a means to quantify what makes money and what doesn’t — journalists will write about sex. And that sex coverage, which Simon disdains, is what keeps the lights running so we can do real journalism that matters.

    I’m glad Simon has opinions. They’re usually fair and measured. This one, however, is not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/terry.mccoy.1690 Terry McCoy

    While I agree with the sentiment, I think David Simon needs to get over himself. Today’s journalists do phenomenal work — always more with less. And anyone who’s made it to this point, and is still inside a newsroom, deserves respect. Here’s the issue: sex sells. Always has and always will. And in an era when every click and page counted is tabulated and distributed to staff — when, finally, there’s a means to quantify what makes money and what doesn’t — journalists will write about sex. And that sex coverage, which Simon disdains, is what keeps the lights running so we can do real journalism that matters.

    I’m glad Simon has opinions. They’re usually fair and measured. This one, however, is not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JenniferDuke Jennifer Duke

    I agree with this. There are other circumstances that may need to be looked at surrounding this entire “scandal” and the focus of the media seems to be completely off base.