Even Trump doesn't deserve Stormy Daniels

Even Trump doesn't deserve Stormy Daniels

Let me state my bias: I do not watch any segment on any television network about Stormy Daniels.

Once it becomes apparent that a show is doing another Stormy story, I thank the Lord for creating the remote control and remain grateful that opening day for Major League Baseball is arriving, which provides a great alternative to watching the pollution of the free press on the matter of the adult-film star and the president.

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While I am no fan of President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS MORE, professional and journalistic integrity compels me to offer the opinion that even Trump does not deserve the sleazy spectacle that lowers the standards of serious news with the obsession about the Stormy Daniels story.

 

Let's give a standing ovation to First Lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpMelania Trump breaks ground on new White House tennis pavilion Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Buttigieg unveils aggressive plan to lower drug prices | Supreme Court abortion case poses major test for Trump picks | Trump takes heat from right over vaping crackdown Kroger to stop sales of e-cigarettes at stores MORE, who has conducted herself, unlike so many others, with dignity and grace under the most obnoxious circumstances.

Here are the key facts about the Stormy Daniels story: 

First, taking the story of the adult film star at face value, the number of times she engaged in sex with a married man who is now president, without passing moral judgement for behavior that does not grant her any moral authority, is a grand total of one.

This is not a relationship that will ever be compared in quality or duration to Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara in "Gone with the Wind," or John and Abigail Adams in the nobler time when America was born.

Second, shortly before Election Day in 2016, Daniels saw her opportunity for dubious enrichment and negotiated a significant windfall offered to her in return for not violating the privacy of the man who is now president.

She did not have to take the money to maintain her silence. She could have protected the privacy of the man in question for free, but when opportunity knocked, she opened the door.

It is true that “hush money” raises legitimate issues, which are worthy of an occasional segment or story without being inundated with pictures of Daniels to provide the audience with all the news that is “fit to print." In the scheme of scandals that corrupt American political life, the hush money payoff is small potatoes.

Third, after the president was elected, the adult-film star obviously realized that she had sold her silence for too low a price and came back for more. On Wall Street they say “buy low, sell high.” 

She had sold her silence too low, and now she is trying to renege on her sale and sell her silence a second time for a higher price, which gives new meaning to the phrase “the art of the deal."

Fourth, Daniels claims that she was threatened with violence, which would be a serious criminal offense. It is a plausible story. However, if the story is true, the proper move would have been to report the threat to law enforcement to seek prosecution of the guilty party. 

If she believes the threat came from someone associated with the president, the best way to protect herself would have been to report the matter to authorities.

Remember when television viewers were offered the sight of a CD with bombshell revelations — allegedly — shortly before her 60 Minutes segment would air, which is now used as a teaser for coming attractions?

This matter was not the high moment in the history of 60 Minutes, which once garnered stratospheric ratings by revealing blockbuster news on important matters of state, not salacious stories that were once the staple of sleazy tabloids sold at supermarket checkout lines.

Those of us who defend the free press have some duty to speak truth about salacious junk that is masquerading as serious news, which profits major corporations on the televisions screens of the nation.

Even when this salacious junk is aimed at a politician I strongly oppose, that does not make it right or lesson the journalistic responsibility to speak out against it.

President Trump deserves intense scrutiny on major issues affecting the security and health of the nation, but even he does not deserve this. These are serious times that demand serious journalists doing serious work on serious matters.

Ninety-five percent of the time spent by newspapers and television networks covering this seamy story do a disservice to the profession and insult the intelligence of their viewers and readers.

As for me, I will continue to write serious columns about matters such as the heroic students who march to change the arc of history and stop the killing of kids by mass murderers wielding weapons of war in our schools. 

While others watch ludicrous and obsessive stories about the porn star and the president, I will change the channel and watch my beloved New York Yankees, who have outstanding prospects to win the American League East!

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.