In the Times' version of the gossip pages (the Sunday Styles section), reporter Susan Saulny injects a novel Democratic talking point into the potential candidacy of Republican Fred Thompson -one involving his wife,in "Will Her Face Determine His Fortune?"
"As the election of 2008 approaches with its cast of contenders who bring unprecedented diversity to the quest for the White House, the voting public has been called on to ponder several questions: Is America ready for a woman to be president? What about a black man? A Mormon?
"Now, with the possible candidacy of Fred D. Thompson, the grandfatherly actor and former Republican senator from Tennessee, whose second wife is almost a quarter-century his junior, comes a less palatable inquiry that is spurring debate in Internet chat rooms, on cable television and on talk radio: Is America ready for a president with a trophy wife?
"The question may seem sexist, even crass, but serious people - as well as Mr. Thompson's supporters - have been wrestling with the public reaction to Jeri Kehn Thompson, whose youthfulness, permanent tan and bleached blond hair present a contrast to the 64-year-old man who hopes to win the hearts of the conservative core of the Republican party. Will the so-called values voters accept this union?"
When was the last time the Times went ahead and asked a "sexist, even crass" question in its news pages despite it being potentially offensive to its P.C. readership? And who, exactly, were those "serious people" who were really "wrestling with the public reaction" before the Times made it an issue in its newspaper?
"Mr. Thompson, who needs the support of early primary voters, is expected to formally announce his candidacy any day now. Meanwhile, much of the brouhaha around Mrs. Thompson, 40, is being stirred by photos of her in form-fitting gowns circulating on the Internet."
John Hinderaker at Powerlinequestioned where the Times got its idea: "Funny, I haven't seen any discussion of this topic, and the Times doesn't identify a single TV show, talk radio program or chat room. I suppose, though, that every conceivable subject has been discussed in one internet chat room or another. Notice how this technique allows the Times to selectively propagate gossip, rumors and speculation that it thinks may damage a Republican candidate, and justify its conduct with the defense that the subject is 'spurring debate' somewhere in the vast gutter of left-wing web sites and chat rooms."