By Art Gallagher
Magazzu was a Cumberland County Freeholder, former Freeholder Director and former Chairman of the Cumberland County Democratic Party. He resigned under pressure from other Democratic party leaders when his Weineresque photos became public.
The blogger who took Magazzu down, Carl Johnson, admits his problem with the power broker was personal. Johnson says Magazzu used the power of his positions to attempt to silence his political criticism and make his life miserable including having him arrested for failing to pay child support.
Yet Magazzu’s demise was not a political assassination, as the SLedger states. It was a political suicide.
Magazzu’s photos weren’t taken by someone else in a setting where he might expect privacy. He took the photos himself, just as former Congressmen Christopher Lee and Anthony Weiner took photos of themselves. Like the congressmen, Magazzu voluntarily transmitted the photos to a stranger. That was stupid.
The SLedger laments the pre-Internet days when the media elite were the gatekeepers of what the public learned about its elected officials:
Photos and racy e-mails that Magazzu sent to a mysterious woman over the internet — a woman who has yet to appear, but who both sides believe exists — were refused by several local newspapers on the grounds they weren’t news. They were evidence of Magazzu’s private relationship. And deserved to be private.
If the photos weren’t news, i.e. of interest to the public, no one would have paid attention to them and Magazzu would still be in office. The photos were not of Magazzu gardening, fishing or playing golf. They were photos he took of himself, nude, in a bedroom and a bathroom. They weren’t evidence of a private relationship. He sent the photos himself to a stranger, a “mystery woman.” If the photos were evidence of a private relationship, Magazzu would have shared them with someone who would have kept them private.
With the possible exception of President Priss, the media elite are no longer the arbiters of what the public knows about it’s public figures. Long gone are the days when the electorate doesn’t know they have a president with polio or one that philanders with movie stars. Long gone are the days that an Assemblyman collecting a police disability pension can be physically fit and the public won’t know about it. Long gone are the days that any public figure can share nude photos of themselves with strangers and expect that the public won’t learn about.
The public rightfully doesn’t trust the media elite to decide what is relevant because the media elite is often driven by its own bias as to what is news and what isn’t news. My bias tells me that the Sledger editorial board would have a very different take on this story if a high ranking member of the Christie administration, a Republican Freeholder from any county or a Republican member of the legislature had been involved, rather than a Democratic power broker.
The Sledger contributes to the demise of its own influence by taking a hyperbolic leap in lamenting the power of the blogosphere:
We’ve created a whole new class of political assassins, and any target is now fair game — not just the biggest-name politicians anymore. Tabloid stalking has trickled down to the next-door neighbor level. Any small town sex scandal can be international news.
Really? Did I miss something? I ran “next door neighbor small town sex scandal” through google news. The only “news” there was the Sledger editorial.
The hyperbole continues in the Sledger’s conclusion:
Political figure or not, blogging these photos amounts to cyber-bullying. Attacking your opponent on legitimate political or legal grounds is one thing. But publicizing his private life to destroy his reputation crosses the line into virtual stalking.
I don’t buy it. Magazzu wasn’t stalked, virtually or otherwise. He took the photos himself and pushed the send button himself. Cyber-bullying a Freeholder and former County Chairman? Please!
We’ll have to wait until the next time a Republican does something stupid in his/her “private” life to see if the Sledger really means what it says and lives up to its own standards.
In the meantime, public figures of both parties and from all walks of life should refrain from sending nude photos of themselves to anyone and should be careful about everything they do when cameras are present, which is pretty much anytime they are anywhere in public.