Discussion: Scrutiny

I do not believe there should be any areas “off limits” when a person is running for office. They are suppose to be representing us as a whole and we should want the very best to represent us as a country. I think a persons private life speaks volumes on how that person in reality. The candidates we see smiling on television may not be that same smiling person at home. Their private life, their love life and their family life is exactly what they are made of and we have a right to know the type of person we may be voting for. Would you vote for a candidate that looks excellent on paper but in the privacy of his home he is abusive to his family? The type of person some one is off screen can tell us more about them than the person they are on screen.The media in itself can be a tricky obstacle. There are so many fake articles that come out it can be hard to keep track of what is true and what is false. We need to be more mindful of what outlet we are sourcing our information from and think about the person as a whole. Not just what he claims he will do for our country, but how he conducts himself in a private manner.

With that being said I think the most important matter would be the relevance of the information given. I do not think something a candidate did back in college should necessarily be relevant to his campaign. We all have those drunken college moments when we are still trying to find ourselves, but those moments do not define us. They should be sticking to information from the time that candidate became a public official. What has he done with his time as a public official?

However, if I had to choose something to be off limits, I believe their children should be left out of the spot light. They  did not choose to run for office so they should not be subjected to the scrutiny of the media. The media seems to believe they can say whatever about whoever and that is our biggest problem today. Most children have been subjected to cyber bullying and having to see articles of themselves online can be damaging to a young mind. Having a parent run for office can be hard enough to deal with without the added pressure of the press attacking a minor. It can kill their sense of worth and diminish their confidence without setting this boundary. First Lady said it best when defending her son Baron from a comment made by Pamela Karlan during the impeachment trials: “A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics. Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it,”

Just as well as we should be holding our candidates to a higher standard, we also should hold ourselves on a higher standard and take responsibility for the things we post.


In reference to what should or should not be off limits to public scrutiny, I think it’s totally up to whatever the presidential candidates can pull off. When you’re signing up to be the most well known person in the country, nothing will be truly off limits. It seems to me that keeping, at minimum, an unremarkable private life (or being good at hiding anything unsavory) is just another responsibility of a president. One must submit to the fact that any bit of information the press can get their hands on will be taken as far as it can go. All a candidate can do is guard their privacy, whatever level may be comfortable to them, to the best of their ability. Now if “should” is being used in an ethical sense, the proper thing to do would be to respect whatever level of privacy the candidate wanted. Of course, we all know this isn’t the world we live in, though.

The media scrutiny is good in some ways, and bad in others. For example, the vast scope of the  internet allows us a deeper insight into the candidates lives compared to previous generations. It’s more difficult to hide histories, and portray themselves as someone they’re not. I’ve seen many articles about politicians’ past platform and voting records, whether it is to commend them for being consistent and trustworthy, or to call them out for not taking issues as seriously as their political careers. It’s becoming more difficult to change what they stand for whenever it suits them, because, at any time, anyone can go and find out where they stood at any point in time. Beyond political history, it is easy to go back and find receipts of racist/sexist/homophobic/antisemitic/what-have-you tweets, for example, to inform your opinion of the candidate. We want candidates who share our values, as our values change our political stances, and will therefore affect a candidate’s work in office (Lowi et al. 2017, 282). As for whether or not old social media posts have any bearing on this, it varies individually, and also with whether or not (and how) the candidate ever addressed them.

As for cons of the media scrutiny, one in particular that I worry about is that in the coming years, we will have problems with sexually graphic videos of candidates at a younger age being released. This is something that I just don’t want to see come to pass, but when people who were raised in the age of the internet become more common in office, it seems almost inevitable. Kids and young adults do not always use foresight, and not everyone knows they want a career in politics when they grow up. Sexting was rampant in my high school, and despite people telling kids not to do it, there was really no enforcement, and many people’s parents weren’t vigilant. Sexting between minors is punishable through child pornography laws, and some states are considering adding specific sexting laws, but in my opinion, it really wasn’t enough protection for my peers (Carter 2009:1). We don’t see this as much now, because most major politicians were adults with fully developed brains when internet media became as big as it is today. Unfortunately, though, there is a whole younger generation of people going relatively unprotected from a danger that could follow them for a lifetime. I knew someone who’s nude images were released to maybe 50 people, and it was so sad to see. I can’t imagine having this happen as a presidential candidate with the world watching. Media scrutiny of candidates is great for transparency, but with children being raised in the wild west of the social media age, I believe it will have some awful consequences soon.