Interview about Politics, Sex, and the Media

I am back….with an interview. You won’t see these too often but I wanted to reach out to an old friend of mine about political sex scandals and the media. Meghan DeAmaral was the former president of Texas A&M Legacies as well as a founder with me back in 2013. Her undergrad major was political science with a minor in Comm, and she is currently getting working towards a master of Public Service and Administration with a focus in Public Policy, a concentration in Security Policy and Management, and is emphasizing her studies in cyber security. Meghan is also earning a Certificate in Homeland Security! She currently works as a graduate assistant researcher at the Bush School and as a Business Development Intern at JBKnowledge in Bryan, Texas. She hopes to work in security or intelligence after graduation; she’s especially interesting in working in Intelligence Analysis. So with that being said….let’s start the interview.

Me: First I want to start with a a general question – how do you think the media handles political sex scandals? 

Meghan: The media seems to handle political sex scandals like it does any celebrity gossip — unfortunately, it seems as though mainstream media gives far more coverage to scandalous topics rather than things that actually impact our daily lives, like trade agreements. Sounds nerdy, but it’s important. Ask any 20 something year old what TPP stands for and you’ll likely get a blank stare; ask what the name of Bill Clinton’s mistress was and everyone knows Monica Lewinsky’s name. Mind you, 20 something year olds were less than 10 years old when it happened — I was 2 years old, and even I know her name.

Me: Do you think there is any difference between how political sex scandals and non-political sex scandals are portrayed?

Meghan: I think it depends on which side of the spectrum it falls and how it’s handled. To use the Bill Clinton example once again, he (like our current President) was sort of a hybrid celebrity-president, so his affair seems like it was treated almost apolitically. 10-15 years later, he’s still extremely popular. Meanwhile, military serviceman General David Petraus’s career is over; he resigned his post and we haven’t really heard from him since then. Bill Clinton was the foremost leader of the free world while GEN Petraus was director of the CIA — both public servants and both technically political sex scandals, but both treated very differently.

Me: Good points to make! So I know that you watch a TV show called Scandal and I wanted to get your thoughts on this. This show centers around a political sex scandal between the president and a woman by the name of Olivia Pope – and many out there are hoping they will end up together. What are your thoughts on this?

Meghan: So, Scandal was written by Shonda Rhimes, who certainly has a flair for the dramatic — she broke the hearts of McDreamy fans everywhere (spoiler alert). I think it’s important to note that Olivia Pope’s character is based on Judy Smith, who actually visited TAMU in April of 2015, and denies having ever been involved in any sex scandals, much less with a rascal president. I was more impressed with Olivia Pope in the show before she got caught in a tug-of-war between the president and the former intelligence agent — when she stood on her own two feet. That being said, she still does a decent job of being a “gladiator” and doesn’t (for the most part) allow these relationships to cloud her professional judgment. As far as the sex scandal, well…it’s sad to me that so many people are intensely passionate about a relationship based on adultery. I understand that “sex sells,” but I’m not sure how I’d feel about it if I were Judy Smith. I also watch House of Cards, which has sexual elements and scenes. To be honest with you, I don’t really enjoy watching the sex scenes in either show. They’re interesting enough without the sex if you just pay attention to the tremendous problem solving and other character conflicts.

Me: Do you believe this happens often in media such as TV shows or movies? Or would you say that media at times can give a political sex scandal a positive spin to the general public? 

Meghan: I think that the media definitely overplays sexual plots — illicit relationships or otherwise, like I said, sex sells whether it’s a movie, tv show, or even a newscast. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say that the media gives political sex scandals a positive spin, but I think they spend too much coverage discussing sex scandals in general. Look at Kim Kardashian — I’m sure she’s nice in real life, but why is she famous? She’s famous because of a sex tape. That’s the society we live in.

Me: Do you ever think a political sex scandal could help the politician’s career in the end, or is that too far-fetched?

Meghan: Absolutely. Like I mentioned earlier, General Petraus’ career seems to  essentially be over. It all depends on context, but generally speaking, he seems to be moreso on the extreme end of the spectrum. We don’t typically see sex scandals end a career because they’ve become so commonplace.

Me: How do you think our society has been affected by how political sex scandals have been portrayed in media? 

Meghan: We’ve become desensitized to something that years ago would have effectively stigmatized a person for the rest of his/her life. I think we also have lower expectations of our leaders — when you are entrusted with running a country, an agency, an organization, anything, you have a significant level of responsibility. That responsibility comes with accountability. The people you are leading ought to be able to look up to you to set a better example; to make the world a better place under your leadership. A sex scandal doesn’t make the world a better place, but sex scandals don’t even really surprise us nowadays.

Me: Well Meghan I would like to thank you for giving your input to these matters and bringing up some fantastic points! Do you have any additional comments for this interview or closing statements?

Meghan: Thanks for addressing such an important issue! The buck doesn’t stop at political sex scandals, though. We poison our minds, our society, our culture in so many ways — it’s a shame that we don’t consciously recognize this.

So – what are your thoughts on this interview? Can you counter any of her points? I will go into a bit of a detailed analysis of this tomorrow but for now I want you all to soak in this interview and I will bring this to the table tomorrow. Goodnight, readers!

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