Sexual behavior was also generally considered off limits.
But the time has come for journalists to acknowledge that a zone of privacy does exist.
The networks found themselves having to compete for an increasingly Balkanized audience.
Journalists, who are skeptical to begin with, simply do not like to be lied to or made fools of.
As electronic journalism came to be evaluated for its cost effectiveness, the network world began breaking up.
In exchange for power, influence, command and a place in history, a president gives up the bulk of his privacy.
Most journalists now believe that a person's privacy zone gets smaller and smaller as the person becomes more and more powerful.
The written tone and the spoken tone change and the reporters' disbelief in the veracity of the government spreads to the readers and the viewers.
Given what the media have put the country through this past decade, it must come as a surprise to most Americans that the press has a code of ethics.
For decades, the journalistic norm had been that the private lives of public officials remained private unless that life impinged on public performance.