The Business Insider loves to push journalistic frontiers. So I grimaced this morning when the publication picked up the now-on-fire story about Sarah Palin’s alleged premarital tryst with basketball star Glen Rice. The fling is said to have occurred in 1987, when Rice was a sharpshooting hoopster for the University of Michigan and Palin was a TV sports reporter.
I even sent Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget an e-mail asking him how he could possibly explain such an atrocity as publishing this rumor, as reported in the National Enquirer and sourced from the soon-to-be- published book on Palin by Joe McGinniss. Why pry into Palin’s premarital private life?
Then I remembered: Oh yeah, the whole abstinence-before-marriage thing. Via a three-year-old CNN story:
In a 2006 Eagle Forum questionnaire, Palin indicated that she supported funding abstinence-until-marriage education programs instead of teaching sex-education programs.
“Explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support,” Palin wrote in the conservative group’s questionnaire.
Those two sentences open all kinds of ethical doors for reporters. Where even a national politician’s premarital sex habits of nearly a quarter-century ago are normally off-limits to media outlets, they move into the realm of fair game once that politician starts pushing abstinence education.
Hypocrisy is a quality that must be exposed in our political leaders: If Palin backs abstinence-only education and shuns talk of contraception and the like, then we are entitled to know whether her own lifestyle aligned with her rhetoric. And so we’re learning about Palin’s alleged Reagan-era sex life.
Yet I don’t want to know about Palin’s premarital sex life. I don’t care if it involved a black basketball player or a white tetherball player. I don’t want to hear about whom other abstinence-only advocates may have chosen for partners, either.
All of which means that people should stop lobbying for abstinence -only education. It’s a bad idea on many levels. One of those levels is the media: It gives reporters every reason to investigate the most intimate moments of abstinence-only advocates.