Shocked about Schock? Read between the writers’ lines

Aaron Schock, former congressmanIf you haven’t read former Congressman Barney Frank’s comments about now former Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL), or if you don’t have gay male friends on Facebook, you might not know or care about the rumors that Schock is in the closet.

Schock, 33, announced his resignation last week, following inquiries about his spending habits and ethics.

As NPR and other outlets have reported, the controversy surrounding his finances was sparked by a Washington Post story last month that his office had been decorated in a manner resembling scenes from “Downton Abbey.”

In reading a handful of stories, I was struck by the words used by reporters, who perhaps wanted to out him but didn’t quite think that they could go that far. Wonkette, not surprisingly, took the bold step of reporting: Congress-Model Aaron Schock Comes Out… of Congress.

Here’s a sampling of other articles, from a quick review. “Lavish” seems to be a popular word:

  • “use campaign funds to paint the walls of their offices the color of a fine pinot noir… or furnish them with such accoutrements as vases full of pheasant feathers” – New Yorker, March 19
  • “lavish spending habits,” attended a Katy Perry concert – Huffington Post, March 17
  • “battled persistent rumors about his sexuality” – U.S. News & World Report, March 17
  • “bold new renovation of his Capitol Hill office” – USA Today, March 17
  • “The lavish office… was just the beginning: Schock reportedly employed a personal photographer, chartered private planes, and stayed in five-star hotels” – National Journal, March 17
  • “He also repaid the government $40,000 for lavishly decorating his Washington, D.C., office in the style of PBS television drama Downton Abbey.” – UPI, March 17
  •  “taste for first-class travel and quirky interior design,” “lawmaker’s lavish lifestyle” – New York Times, March 17
  • “shirtless ziplining” – Washington Post, March 11
  • “has six-pack abs that landed him on the cover of Men’s Health” – Washington Post, February 2

Maybe in 2015, when gay marriage and same-sex relationships are more widely accepted, the press remains a bit baffled about how to cover this topic. It’s still surprising and slightly amusing to me to see the “read between the lines” writing. And the Washington Post seemed like it wanted to go further, especially after uncovering the extravagant renovation a la “Downtown Abbey.” Wait, I might be falling into the same trap now…

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