Big Island Chronicle has obtained a couple of photos of at least one candidate for public office in Hawaii County drinking and partying. A source who provided the photos to BIC maintains that the photos were posted on what is now a defunct Myspace page. The candidate, who is seeking to represent Hawaii County as a council member, has not commented on the photos nor the source’s challenge that they comprise the candidate’s campaign slogan.
In the last few days since I have received the photos and waited for the candidate’s response, I have contemplated using the photos and even consulted with at least one other member of the media. I have decided that I don’t really think it is that newsworthy that this candidate has posted on the internet photographs of drinking and partying with friends. It’s one thing if the candidate was underage when the photos were taken. But, then again, raise your hand if you didn’t drink alcohol when you were underage. It’s another thing if the candidate was arrested and convicted for drunk driving. There is no evidence of that. I personally don’t find the garden variety drunk-and-partying photographs compelling enough to publish. Do you?
If you look at the candidates for public offices in Hawaii County, Lee McIntosh appears to be the only candidate who doesn’t have a drunken story to tell. The rest would have to look me in the eye and tell me that they have never had one too many amongst friends.
The thing is, in the age of the Internet and social media, there is a propensity for us or our friends to share photographs that may be amusing in our private life, but not so becoming should we choose to seek public office. Apparently, the candidate for County Council figured that out and pulled the plug on the Myspace page bearing the drunken photographs. But the photographs, being at one time in a public domain, got in the hands of somebody who doesn’t want to see this person elected. And I honestly don’t really want to fetch the bone an unnecessarily tarnish a candidate’s reputation for something that most people have done.
Everyone in the two photographs were clothed, and the shots merely captured them drinking and laughing. There was one photograph that, well, let’s just say what we should all be telling all our daughters: “Drunk girls aren’t pretty.” If the photograph were published here, it would actually be less embarrassing for the candidate than the candidate’s friend who is depicted in quite the compromising pose, faking a sexual act.
I went to college, and I have plenty of stories to tell. If I ever decided to run for public office, I’m sure someone would come out of the woodwork eager to tell them. God help me, there might even be some photographs to go along with those embarrassing memories. I’m just grateful that I didn’t have Myspace or Facebook in my formative years to help document those drunken nights. I’m sure you have your own drunk-girl or drunk-boy stories to tell. If you have had any sort of colorful life whatsoever, you would agree with me that the photographs are pretty vanilla. (Vanilla is slang for plain, or boring.)
I’m just curious as to what people think is worthwhile election coverage. Do you really want to see photographs of candidates for public office drinking or partying with friends? Or, do you agree that it is really not newsworthy unless or until these people are in the police blotter for a criminal act?
If anything, a story like this puts candidates on notice that there are people looking up every detail they can about you, finding anything and everything to use against you. If you have any interest in running for public office, best be careful, you could get smeared.