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Glenn Halbrooks

Did a Website Photo Lead to a Congressman's Resignation?

By February 11, 2011

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In terms of political scandals, this one rates as mild. U.S. Rep. Christopher Lee has resigned after a shirtless photo of himself was published on Gawker.

A photo of the U.S. Capitol at night
A Congressman's career is over after a shirtless photo of him hit the Internet.
Photo © Getty Images
A shirtless man is a sight anyone can see at the beach, so nothing shocking there. But according to Gawker, Lee sent the photo to a woman he made contact with through Craigslist. Lee is married with a son.

Whatever Lee's intentions, the story was enough for him to resign from Congress, effective immediately. While not addressing the photo or related emails that Gawker published, Lee said he made "profound mistakes" in announcing his departure from Capitol Hill.

This story presented yet another dilemma for mainstream media. Some referred to Gawker as a gossip website, yet felt no hesitation in spreading the details of Lee's apparent misdeeds.

Once he resigned, the story unquestionably became news. His constituents in his New York Congressional district need to know that he's gone and that someone new will represent them on Capitol Hill.

But had the story of his shirtless pose remained solely on Gawker, he likely would've remained in Congress. His undoing didn't involve sexual harassment, prostitution or anything that could send him to jail -- just a potentially embarrassing photo.

Before the Internet, Lee's mistakes would have been a matter for his family to resolve. But in the era of new media, one misstep by a government leader, celebrity or sports star can be reported worldwide in a matter of minutes.

What do you think? Regardless of what you think of Lee's behavior, should a website publish a photo or emails that could ruin a marriage or a career just to have an exclusive story?


February 12, 2011 at 8:18 pm
(1) wb says:

1. He’s pretty cute, shirtless or not.
2. He’s done the most ethical thing in resigning, since his infidelity is contrary to his stated values and those who voted for him.
3. My own Representative is an admitted attempted rapist and girlfriend batterer, but since he votes the Democratic line in a safely Democratic district he gets re-elected and nobody quibbles about such things.
4. Similarly, our former Senator (a Republican) was an extreme sexual harasser, including of women’s rights lobbyists, but he always voted for women’s rights, pro-choice, etc. His horrible behavior was never a problem — until the Dems were close to getting a majority in the Senate, THEN it suddenly became an issue so they could try to replace him with a Dem.

Given that, who are the real hypocrites?

I wouldn’t vote for an ADMITTED attempted rapist no matter how much I agreed with their voting record.

February 17, 2013 at 11:23 pm
(2) wallinside.com says:

Yes! Finally something about money make money.

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