Field Marshall Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, was politician who successfully took to the field to defeat Napoleon and then resumed his political career, eventually rising to become Prime Minister.
Given his alpha male status, and the rather loose morals amongst the aristocracy in the early 19th century, Wellington was consistently unfaithful to his wife. In 1824, one of his amours broke the rules of discretion that governed aristocratic peccadilloes, writing down her recollections about their liaison, including details that would have embarrassed the Prime Minister.
The publishing house that obtained the memoirs contacted Wellington and blackmailed him: pay us or we publish. Wellington refused. In the intervening years, the letter containing that refusal has been distilled to a single apocryphal (but accurate) quotation: “Publish and be damned!”
Those words keep running through my mind in this season of non-stop media attacks against Trump based upon his sexual habits. This time, though, the words come, not from the target of the attacks, but from the American public.
No matter the revelations, Americans are simply sneering at the media: Publish and be damned! We don’t care about idle boasts from a boastful man eleven years ago (especially since those boasts, contrary to Anderson Cooper’s repeated lies, clearly speak of consensual interactions). We don’t care that women are coming forward to claim that Trump misbehaved ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. Primarily, of course, we don’t believe what the media is telling us: