The Post today published a gleeful takedown of Bronx Assemblywoman Naomi D. Rivera's private Facebook page, which, featured (until Rivera recently took the page down) a picture of the assemblywoman with her bra exposed. Much slut-shaming ensued, and, though Gothamist's Ben Yakas rightly points out that Rivera's relationship with a staffer named Tommy Torres probably merits further scrutiny, the Post dances merrily along the slut-shaming line, calling Rivera "a real swing voter" and criticizing her "lacy red bra."
It's not that Rivera Facebook page isn't worth investigating — though she's said that the page is her "personal page" and has therefore asked the press to respect her privacy, no public figure should expect that their social networking minutiae to be protected under an unspoken "hands-off" policy. Besides, Rivera's page featured a series of pictures of her with Torres dating back to 2009 (a year before Rivera finalized a divorce with her then-husband), when she first created the private Facebook account under the name "Daniela," according to the Post. Torres started working out of Rivera's office in 2010, earning an $18,123 "taxpayer-funded salary." Torres is later listed by the state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli as working full-time for Rivera from Aug. 30, 2010, to June 1, 2011, during which time he had another full-time job, according to the Department of Education, at Brooklyn's PS 157.
Pictures on the Facebook profile showed a whole series of Torres and Rivera doing the sorts of things couples tend to do: Rivera flashing a pair of 1-carat diamond earrings Torres bought her for Valentine's Day; Torres and Rivera dancing, dirtily; Torres and Rivera at a baseball game, fighting the urge to nap through the entire boring spectacle of watching the Mets lose. It isn't that Rivera should somehow be above public scrutiny — her internet travails should be media fodder the same as any other politician's, more so if, as the Post suggests, there was anything improper about her relationship with a paid staffer.
Still, there's a pretty stark difference between criticizing an improper work relationship, and criticizing an adult woman, public figure or not, for having the audacity to sleep with whomever she wants. The Post toes the slut-shaming line because it's easy enough to strafe onto the scene, make a "swing voter" joke, and feel justified in lampooning a politician for making the same mistake other politicians have — being stupid on the internet. Thus far, that's really the only thing that Rivera deserves to be criticized for.