“I mean, really, why should I care?” I thought as I read first the headline, then the story.
“Beleaguered Senator Mike Duffy faced fresh controversy Tuesday after Maclean’s magazine published an interview with a Peruvian woman who claims to be his daughter,” one breathless account began last week.
“The magazine reported that the woman, Karen Duffy, was born to Duffy after an affair with a convicted Peruvian drug smuggler who served time at a Kingston, Ont., prison.
“The Maclean's story says the alleged affair lasted for a few months in the early 1980s while her mother was on parole at an Ottawa halfway house.”
This what the media has come to? I tut-tutted. Sex, politics, a woman in prison. Sounds like a TV series, not news. What about global warming, poverty, government secrecy? Why should I care if The Duff allegedly had sex with someone 30 years ago?
When a story appeared in this very paper suggesting the news coverage was OK, my face wrinkled up in doubt.
“Allegations that P.E.I. Senator Mike Duffy fathered a child with a convicted drug smuggler may be personal and salacious, but they’re fair game in today’s world of politics, says former newspaper editor and Duffy biographer Dan Leger,” it began.
“It kind of does fit in with what I know of Mike Duffy, in that he was pretty careless about his personal life,” Leger said. “But these things happen to people and I can understand how they happen. This sounds like another thing that will only make his heart problems worse.”
I laughed out loud at that last one.
“I don’t see how what happened 30 years ago has any bearing on his life today,” he added, before saying he’d have run the story if he was the editor. “He is a public figure, and I wonder if they found out something similar about Justin Trudeau or a Liberal senator, whether the Conservatives wouldn’t find a way to make it public. Politics is a rough sport these days.”
My sense of moral superiority was so refreshing I practically wallowed in it. Then I flipped to Google and searched for this Karen Duffy. Wonder what she looks like, I thought. Just a peek. Research, really.
Gee, she does sort of look like him.
True, she has hair, lots of it, actually. Sort of blonde, but it’s probably from a bottle. Still, not bad looking. Has a bit of his round face. Just a bit, not the full-meal deal. And she has his eyes.
No! Get to The New York Times. Read something important. Learn stuff.
Then a few days later The Duff was back in the news for more familiar stuff. The RCMP had lowered the boom. The prime minister’s right hand man might not have broken the law when he handed the sort-of-Islander senator a cheque for $90,000 to pay off some politically embarrassing debts, said the men in red serge.
But The Duff broke the law when he took the cheque.
Anyway, lots of charges, a court appearance coming soon to every Canadian TV news program near you. Commentators limbering up their lips at the very idea the prime minister might be hauled into court to testify under oath.
Now that’s real news. Public officials being held accountable for the spending of public money.
Then, it seems, The Duff called his alleged daughter. And I read about it.
“Out of respect for the parties we will not be making any further comments or statements at this moment,” the woman’s lawyer said primly to reporters.
Bet they will, eventually. And I’ll be waiting.
Rick MacLean is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.