"If in the past, the so-called powers, i.e., States, exerted pressures on the election of the pope, today there is an attempt to do this through public opinion that is often based on judgments that do not typically capture the spiritual aspect of the moment that the church is living," the statement said. "It is deplorable that as we draw closer to the time of the beginning of the conclave ... that there be a widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions."Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi was asked how specifically the media was trying to influence the outcome; Lombardi didn't respond directly, saying only that the reports have tended to paint the Curia in a negative light "beyond the considerations and serene evaluations" of problems that cardinals might discuss before the conclave.
I read the Haaretz hard copythis past week.
On Tuesday, the lead headline was
Police checking claims Gideon Sa'ar had improper relations with subordinate
At the website, it was:
AG orders probe into allegations education minister had affair with subordinate
Gideon Sa'ar's associates say a letter accusing him of improper relations with a ministry
On Wednesday, on page 2, below the fold, I saw
Police suspect letter accusing Sa'ar of adultery was forged
At the website, we had this:
Israel's AG: Probe letter claiming Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar acted 'inappropriately'
On Thursday, the paper had nothing but the website had:
The sex scandal that has not happened
|...It is safe to assume that these past few days, and probably the months preceding them, were not the best of Sa'ar's life. A letter ostensibly written by a female subordinate and sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu caused a whirlwind that could ultimately bring his political career to an abrupt end.
The letter, supposedly signed by an employee identified in the letter only as M.C., accuses Sa'ar of having abused his position to sleep with several subordinates in his office and describes other illicit acts allegedly performed by the minister, some of them illegal.
The real M.C. vehemently denies having written the letter or having had an affair with Sa'ar, as the letter suggests. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has ordered an investigation. Police are looking into whether the letter was forged and Sa'ar is claiming it is the work of political opponents trying to assassinate his character.
But the sex scandal that now threatens to envelop one of Israel's rising political stars did not come out of nowhere. Rumors about Sa'ar have been circulating for months, setting Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms ablaze with every mention of his name.
...The truth is the truth plays only a small part in this story. Whether or not Sa'ar is guilty of illicit and/or illegal behavior is for the legal system to decide, if it chooses to pursue the matter. In the court of public opinion, those who have heard the details have already condemned him.
...Sa'ar certainly can't claim complete innocence when it comes to the change in his public image. Ever since he separated from his wife of 22 years, the recent divorcee and self-described "late bloomer" when it comes to the opposite sex has been out on the town, partying – and partying hard. Whether DJing at the posh Tel Aviv bars Hagilda and Taxidermy, going to rock concerts with his new celebrity romance, the mesmerizing Channel 1 television news anchor Geula Even, or meeting with his old friend and political foe Shelly Yachimovich, Sa'ar's behavior has been out of whack by his own standards.
...No one really knows what's true and what's not at this point. It's the job of law enforcement and, assuming it's up to the task, the media, to find out. In the meantime, we, the people of Israel, should hope the whole thing is just an unfounded attempt to derail a successful politician. Because, God helps us, we can't take another government sex offender.