Paul Babeu was accustomed to threats that would out him as a gay man from the time he was in the military to his campaign for Pinal County Sheriff.
“This is 20 plus years that I’ve had numerous people that would threaten this to me. To expose me, go to my chain of command even in the military and report this and have done so,” he said at the press conference where he publicly confirmed he was gay amidst allegations that he threatened to deport an ex-lover.
“It’s almost as if there is a relief today to be able to not be threatened. Because not only is that not fair and to define people along those personal, those very private parts of who they are that’s how I’ve lived my life and defined myself.”
But is it fair? Does the public have a right to know about a public figure’s private life?
Bart Wojdynski, an assistant professor of communication at Virginia Tech who has a Ph.D. in Mass Communication, recently co-authored an article in the Journal of Mass Media Ethics that explored what the public expectations were of the press when covering politician’s private lives.