Reports of hypocrisy on the part of social conservatives is a guaranteed favorite in the liberal media, so it was no surprise that Adam Nossiter reported from New Orleans on RepublicanSen. David Vitter's involvement in the "D.C. Madam" scandal Wednesday ("A Senator's Moral High Ground Gets a Little Shaky"). Sen. Vitter is also the Southern chairman of Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign, so naturally the article came with a photograph of Giuliani standing behind Vitter.
"From the beginning of his political career 16 years ago, Senator David Vitter has been known for efforts to plant himself on the moral high ground, challenging the ethics of other Louisiana politicians, decrying same-sex marriage and depicting himself as a clean-as-a-whistle champion of family values.
"'I'm a conservative who opposes radically redefining marriage, the most important social institution in human history,' Mr. Vitter, a 46-year-old Republican, wrote in a letter last year to The Times-Picayune, the New Orleans daily.
"That self-created image, a political winner here since 1991, when Mr. Vitter joined the Louisiana House, took a tumble Monday with the disclosure that his phone number was among those on a list of client numbers kept by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madam, who is accused of running a prostitution ring in Washington.
"Mr. Vitter admitted Monday night to a 'very serious sin in my past,' and talk radio and coffee shops here buzzed all day Tuesday with the front-page news, even as the senator remained out of sight. But the fallout was far bigger than local: his admission is also a blow to the presidential campaign of Rudolph W. Giuliani, for whom he is Southern campaign chairman.
"Mr. Vitter, an uncompromising foe of abortion, same-sex marriage and the immigration compromise that died in the Senate in June, was supposed to be Mr. Giuliani's ambassador to a region with large numbers of social conservatives suspicious of the candidate's moderate views. His viability in that role is now in doubt with his acknowledgment that his number was already in the phone records of Pamela Martin & Associates before he ran for the Senate in 2004."
"Cocaine, corruption and prostitution.
"Those are not the words a campaign wants to be associated with. But in recent weeks, three people associated with the Giuliani campaign have each made headlines for being involved in illicit behavior involving one of the three.
"Today, it is Mr. Giuliani's chairman for the southern region, Louisiana Senator David Vitter, who is coming under fire.
Santora soon reached for the hypocrisy card: "Mr. Vitter, who styled himself as a defender of traditional conservative family values, had been a key advocate of Mr. Giuliani's in conservative circles both in the Senate and key southern states."
Last week saw another sex scandal involving another high-level figure in a presidential campaign - that of Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton. One of her national campaign co-chairs, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, last week admitted to having an affair with Telemundo anchorwoman Mirthala Salinas. Yet the Times July 6 story managed to completely avoid the Clinton connection.
Ironically, Jennifer Steinhauer's story was headlined "Reporting a Mayor's Marital Woes, Minus One Significant Detail," a reference to the anchorwoman who was romantically involved with the mayor even as she read the news of the scandal. But the same headline could be applied to Steinhauer's own story for leaving off the Clinton campaign connection - and for taking the spotlight off the behavior of a Democratic mayor and Hillary ally.