OP-ED by Karyn Turk
PALM BEACH, FL – Clickbait news and salacious headlines are about as expected as rain over the Everglades on a summer afternoon when the convection in the swamp builds up a thunderstorm. Matt Gaetz is one of the most promising up and coming figures of the Republican Party. It’s not a shocker that the swamp has attempted to cancel him by brewing a controversial storm around him. He processes an intelligence and charm reminiscent of a 1960’s Kennedy. That potential as a leader for change and a willingness to listen to the American people is precisely why the swamp loathes him.
The headlines about Matt have taken over every media outlet this past week. The story morphed from an accusation of sex with an underage female to a sex trafficking scandal. We have all seen this pattern before. These headlines scream of cancel culture. A coordinated effort of outlets that take their cues from a single original article. The story shifts in a way that is similar to the telephone game that we played as kids. The first person whispers the story to the second, and by the time it reaches the last person, it has new details that never existed in the story whispered by that first person. In today’s world, the articles spin-off into cyberspace, growing it into a trending topic. This story certainly has all the elements for some great clickbait. Let’s not forget that the more eyeballs there are on a story, the more advertising opportunity for an outlet.
It is pretty evident that regardless of tangible evidence, this will dominate the headlines for a while. Anything regarding “sex trafficking” is bound to get attention. Gaetz has been trying to tell his side of the story, but his narrative is mainly drowned out by the majority of outlets that selectively choose to disseminate only one side. Gaetz himself may have made one of the best statements in the Washington Examiner, stating,
“Washington scandal cycles are predictable, and sex is especially potent in politics. Let me first remind everyone that I am a representative in Congress, not a monk, and certainly not a criminal.” Rep. Matt Gaetz
He is not a criminal, but he’s already been charged and hung by the media if you read the articles today. Just how did the press become the judge and jury? Matt Gaetz’s side of the story is compelling. Gaetz claims that in mid-March, his family became the target of an extortion attempt by a former prosecutor for the D.O.J. Gaetz has gone into great detail, even naming names in several interviews, including an interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson. This former D.O.J. employee, David Mc Gee, is now an attorney in private practice in Seminole County, Florida. Gaetz also spoke of the extortion claims on Twitter. He wrote,
“Over the past several weeks, my family and I have been victims of organized criminal extortion involving a former D.O.J. official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name. We have been cooperating with federal authorities in this matter… and my father has even been wearing a wire at the F.B.I.’s direction to catch these criminals. The planted leak to the F.B.I. tonight was intended to thwart that investigation. No part of the allegations against me are true, and the people pushing these lies are targets……of the ongoing extortion investigation. I demand the D.O.J. immediately release the tapes, made at their direction, which implicate their former colleague in crimes against me based on false allegations.” Rep. Matt Gaetz
The Washington Examiner claimed they viewed screenshots of a message allegedly to Gaetz’s father, Don, that message read, “a plan that can make [Matt Gaetz’s] future legal and political problems go away.” According to the Examiner, there was a request from Don to help with a matter “at the cost of a $25 million loan” that would be “deposited in the trust account of Beggs & Land, naming David L. McGee, and deposited no later than March 19.” It’s important to know that Matt Gaetz is not only influential in his own right, but his father Don is the former president of the Florida state senate. Even Alan Dershowitz appeared on Newsmax to weigh in,
“We the public shouldn’t know about [the investigation] until he [Matt Gaetz] becomes a target — if he becomes a target until there’s an indictment,” Dershowitz said. “But there was a leak, and that ought to be investigated. The New York Times should not be given information about ongoing investigations like this.” Alan Dershowitz
The situation is an odd series of claims all around. The Florida congressman seems to be doing everything he can to get the media to hear his side. His Tucker Carlson appearance left many of us wanting to hear more of what he had to say. It’s become hard to hear anything but the accusations against him as the media headlines become more pervasive. Perhaps in an attempt to drown out his side, leaving only one narrative.
It is a horrible allegation and it is a lie. The New York Times is running a story that I have traveled with a 17-year-old woman and that is verifiably false. People can look at my travel records and see that that is not the case. What is happening is an extortion of me and my family involving a former Department of Justice official. Rep. Matt Gaetz
Dershowitz makes a good point. Our American justice system holds a defendant innocent until proven guilty. The prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each essential element of the crime charged. While the phrase “presumption of innocence” is not in the Constitution, the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments both touch on “due process”. Due process is a fundamental element of our freedoms. I would gather Matt would agree with this statement. These days, the mainstream media doesn’t respect due process, and Matt Gaetz has been convicted in the press. In only a week of this story breaking in the headlines of the New York Times. Let’s not forget that the New York Times is the one who broke this story. For those of us paying attention, we already know they offer one-sided opinions. Their bias was uncovered when opinion editor Bari Weiss resigned this past summer. Weiss stated that colleagues continuously bullied her. Weiss claimed social media, specifically Twitter, has become the Times’ “ultimate editor.” for the Times.
“Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times,” Weiss wrote. “But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.”
Whatever this story morphs into next is unclear, but one thing remains transparent, stories about conservatives are always going to be positioned as clickbait news to benefit a biased agenda.