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November 16th, 2012
11:49 AM ET

Howard Kurtz and Lauren Ashburn on why they feel the media attention on the Petraeus scandal has gone too far

For weeks, the media talked about the so-called "October surprise" but for newly re-elected President Obama the surprise came last week - just days after winning another 4 years in office. Retired General David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA, after an FBI investigation revealed he had an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Since that time, the story has been burning up the airwaves as the media reports every twist and turn in a scandal that involves both sex and national security. This morning Host of CNN's "reliable sources" Howard Kurtz and Daily Beast contributor Lauren Ashburn join “Starting Point” to discuss why they feel at this point the media attention far exceeds the story's news value.

“For a few days I felt like I enjoy a good scandalous wallow as much as anyone,” says Kurtz. “But it has gotten so over the top at this point where we’re getting into all the minor characters,” he adds.

On the topic of national security Ashburn says, “We don’t know if the [Petraeus] story is important yet.” “If there are classified documents involved, if there’s a national security breach. Yes. But there isn’t.” Former senior advisor to President Clinton Richard Socarides disagrees, “I think if it cost him his job it was an important story.” Socarides adds “the bigger question is – do people in the military have the right to privacy?” Kurtz says, “All of these serious issues like privacy online and national security documents… it’s all a fig leaf because we’re enjoying the story so much.” Kurtz adds that while he is not “against enjoying the story” he feels the ratio of the scandal compared to coverage of Petraeus testifying about Benghazi today has been “100 to one.”


Filed under: Petraeus scandal
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. John Q Public

    The whole affair costing him his job is so overblown. This is common practice in the military with flag officers having to step down due to being caught in an indiscretion. They are normally expected to set the example for their subordinates at all ranks so they're held to higher scrutiny.

    As for his position as CIA Director and any potential compromise, that's what the hearings and investigations will bring out. No amount of pandering on either side, for or against is needed. But the risk of compromise at such a high level is too great to ignore so it must be investigated. Those in the press on each side need to let that happen.

    November 20, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mark

    Yeah really! Don't let truth get out!

    November 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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