Sex Scandals

January 22, 2010 • Volume 20, Issue 3
Do the media pay too much attention to adultery?
By Alan Greenblatt


Tiger Woods acknowledged being unfaithful to his wife (Getty Images/Mark Dadswell)
Golfer Tiger Woods is among numerous celebrities from the sports, entertainment and political worlds whose sex scandals have been covered extensively in the media recently. Woods acknowledged being unfaithful to his wife in the wake of a car accident near his Florida home in late November 2009. (Getty Images/Mark Dadswell)

From Thomas Jefferson to Tiger Woods, sex scandals have been a recurring feature of American life. Today, text messages and surveillance cameras have made it harder to keep affairs secret, and the proliferation of Web sites and cable TV shows means that a politician or celebrity who cheats is more likely than ever to be exposed. Politicians and clergy who preach “family values” have had their personal hypocrisy revealed. In the wake of scandal in recent years, governors have resigned, a president has been impeached and senators have been caught using prostitutes and soliciting in an airport men's room. Nevertheless, questions remain about the ethical and journalistic propriety of publicizing private acts. Does the public have a right to know about private affairs — especially when they are not related to official duties? Should the news media focus on more “serious” issues?

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Sexual Behavior
Feb. 22, 2019  Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Apr. 28, 2017  Sports and Sexual Assault
Oct. 21, 2016  Pornography
Apr. 15, 2016  Decriminalizing Prostitution
Oct. 31, 2014  Campus Sexual Assault
Apr. 27, 2012  Sexual Harassment
Jan. 22, 2010  Sex Scandals
May 23, 2008  Prostitution Debate
Nov. 04, 1994  Sex on Campus
Jun. 11, 1993  Prostitution
Jul. 13, 1984  Sexual Revolution Reconsidered
Aug. 25, 1971  Legalization of Prostitution
Apr. 01, 1970  Sexual Revolution: Myth or Reality
Dec. 30, 1963  Sex on the Campus
Journalism and the News