Bowman's article, about the making of the Larry Craig scandal, indicts journalism's taste for unmasking hypocrites:
The media see it as hypocrisy because hypocrisy is their bread and butter. It serves them not only as a pretext for publishing what it would otherwise seem intolerably tacky to publish but also as a generator of news stories that would otherwise hardly count as stories at all.Arendt claims that the French Revolution was the first attempt to turn sincerity into a political virtue, and to proclaim that the public actor must not only act well and do good, but he must additionally provide evidence to the public that his words and actions come "from the heart." The consequences of insincerity are almost as severe as those of acting badly and doing harm. Recall, from On Revolution:
My favorite recent example of the latter was the flutter in the dovecotes of the British press caused by the news that Hitler's record collection had been unearthed in Russia and had been found to contain music by Tchaikovsky, a Russian homosexual, and even by Jewish composers. As Chris Addison wrote in The Times of London, "what those who have written up this story seem to want us to learn from it is that Hitler was a hypocrite. I know, I know, and he seemed so nice." When you think about it, it does seem extraordinary that anyone should have supposed it an appreciable or in any way an interesting augmentation of Hitler's villainy that he was, besides being a mass murderer, a hypocrite in his musical tastes. But that's the media sensibility for you: genocide may be just another lifestyle choice - and a recent contributor to the Huffington Post made the point that at least Hitler was sincere in believing that the murder of the Jews would be good for the world while President Bush hasn't even that much to be said for his evil purposes - but hypocrisy is a form of inauthenticity and therefore much more to be censured.
To the media, no crime is quite so heinous as hypocrisy since no crime is quite so well adapted to the media's exposure. Never mind that, until quite recently, hypocrisy wasn't a crime at all but rather, as La Rochefoucauld famously said, the tribute that vice paid to virtue. Now the only virtue is personal authenticity, the only vice that which conceals it.
"Whatever the passions and the emotions may be, and whatever their connection with thought and reason, they certainly are located in the human heart. And not only is the human heart a place of darkness which, with certainty, no human eye can penetrate; the qualities of the heart need darkness and protection against the light of the public to grow and to remain what they are meant to be, innermost motives which are not for public display. However deeply heartfelt a motive may be, once it is brought out and exposed for public inspection it becomes an object of suspicion rather than insight...when [the motives of the heart] appear, they become 'mere appearances' behind which other, ulterior motives may lurk such as hypocrisy and deceit."