Public figures lack privacy

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver's marriage crumbled amid tabloid reports of an affair. (Courtesy of Google Images)

The scandals range from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Tiger Woods, but, the question remains: how much privacy do public figures deserve?

There are ranges of opinions on this issue. Bruce Cain, a director of the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California – Berkley, says in regards to public officials, “It’s an implied social contract – if you want to run for office, you open up your life for scrutiny.” Tom Fiedler, dean of the College of Communication at Boston University, holds a similar view.  He says that there are certain areas of public officials’ lives that journalists are not entitled to “poke around in.” However, he does say, “If the behavior of their private life is in direct contradiction to the public persona they adopt, then I do believe the journalist has a duty to expose that, because that’s the nature of public life.”

There are conflicting opinions on the privacy level that celebrities should be allowed to maintain. Pepper Shwartz, a sociologist at the University of Washington says, “Celebrities do not hold the same sort of public trust as do politicians.” Nonetheless, in the eyes of the public, celebrities are also viewed as public figures and held to the same standards as politicians. The debate continues as some people agree with Schwartz’s view that celebrities are not paid by the tax dollars of the public and do not hold the same public trust as politicians. However, some people agree with W. Keith Campbell, a psychologist from the University of Georgia, whose view is reflected in the Tiger Woods’ case, “He was a role model and seen as an upstanding, moral, put-together guy and an incredible athlete. In that sense, I think Tiger Woods did hold a public trust.”

The debate over this issue remains and will not decrease according to director Dan Schnur, of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California – Los Angeles. As long as there is a demand for scandals, there will always be news on the most private details of public figures.

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