Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2012, at 2:01 PM
Columnist Connie Schultz laughs off an email question from a "conservative blogger" about why she's seen cuddling Sen. Sherrod Brown in a photograph. ("We are doing an expose on journalists in the elite media who socialize with elected officials they are assigned to cover.") Schultz confesses. "He's really cute. He's also my husband." The story goes viral (HuffPo, NPR, WaPo, TPM), because people like to read stories about the other team being stupid.
I don't think everyone grasps quite how stupid this was, though. Schultz, who'd worked at the Plain Dealer for most of her career, took a leave of absence in 2006 when her husband ran for U.S. Senate. (He was already a member of Congress when they married in 2004, and Republicans have haltingly made attacks on the divorce proceedings that ended Brown's previous marriage.) Schultz got the column back (in the paper) after she won. In 2011, she wrote a column about a Tea Party rally that featured Josh Mandel, who ended up becoming Brown's opponent for re-election. Conservative activists were furious at the paper. Schultz apologized.
As the U.S. Senate race progresses, the public scrutiny of me will only heighten. I have to be ever-vigilant to avoid even the appearance of a conflict. That means I'm going to have to mention my husband more often than I want.
Shortly thereafter, Schultz (who won a Pulitzer in 2005) took another leave from the paper. In ten short months, apparently, her disappearance has been so complete that a sleuth (whom Schultz politely refuses to name) didn't realize Schultz and Brown were married. The Brown divorce story is forgotten again, supplanted by an adorable tale of a smacked-down idiot.
In fairness to the sleuth, the book that Schultz wrote about her marriage and the campaigns is like $15.