The digital communications that provide the tawdry evidence of Tiger Woods’ marital infidelity are “the clearest sign yet that we’re entering a golden age of sex scandals, one with far juicier details, because they come straight from the smart phones of those directly involved,” writes Nick Summers in Newsweek. In past sex scandals–Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Bill Clinton–“the best nuggets were pried loose mainly by subpoena and deposition. The evidence in the new generation of sex scandals has been compiled by the protagonists themselves, in the form of text messages, voice mails, IMs, e-mails, and cell-phone pictures that one party, usually the less powerful one, has squirreled away.”
Digital communications are tough to avoid or erase, and they’re easy to archive as text, audio, or video. Text messages in particular are “the new lipstick on the collar,” says the New York Times. Now, when a former mayor gets into trouble for a relationship with a campaign aide, we get to hear the voices mails he left the woman. When a congressman crosses the line with his young pages, we get the transcripts of their instant-message conversations. When a married governor decides that an Argentine woman is his soulmate, we get their email love notes.