Sometimes Scott Brown Is Just Topless

Scott Brown appeared without a shirt on the front page of a newspaper and political reporters want it to 'mean something.'

Sometimes, you guys, Scott Brown is just topless and it doesn’t really mean much of anything.

Brown has gone topless for practical reasons, of course. He paid down his law school bills with a modeling career. But on Monday morning, he appeared without a shirt in a photo on the cover of the New Hampshire Union-Leader, and … we’re just not sure it was as politically significant as the news reports would have us believe. Yet here we all are, days later, still talking about it. What could it mean?


Or put another way, how can we as self-respecting political reporters justify splashing a shirtless photo of Scott Brown on our blogs without revealing our actual motivation (which is, “Look! Scott Brown took his shirt off in a public place, and he is reasonably fit, and you’re probably shamefully curious, so here it is.”)

They tried, the political reporters did, to make these blog posts feel weighty and portentous. Brown was taking part in an event called “The Penguin Plunge” on Sunday to raise money. The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza headlined his blog post, “Wondering if Scott Brown is serious about running in New Hampshire? This picture will clear it up.” A lot of outlets went this direction. Sure, the fact that he moved to New Hampshire, that he is raising cash, or that has a  “Coming Soon” banner are, perhaps, more relevant signs of a future Senate campaign. But also, he took his shirt off within that state’s borders! And everyone knows this is the commonly recognized smoking gun when looking for proof of political ambition … ?

Slate‘s Josh Vorhees at least took a slightly different variation on the theme, pointing not to the photo, but to its caption, as the most politically intriguing thing about the whole affair. “The caption represents something of coup for a politician hoping to avoid the carpetbagger label,” he writes, because it describes him as “a longtime summer resident of Rye.” Fine, a fair, if small, data point in the larger story of Brown’s political viability up north.

It’s times like these, though, when we appreciate honesty. Conservative news site The Blaze, for instance, wrote their post like the celebrity gawking clickbait it was. “Scott Brown is shirtless in public again,” their headline reads. This is exactly as much justification as they give for telling you about this photo, and you have to award points for candor. We don’t care about this photo because of what it says about Brown’s political future. We care because he’s a Senator wearing few clothes, and he once made a career doing just that, and we’re bored at work so why not?

Thus, The Boston Globe’s Joan Venocchi perceptively tosses aside the idea that a shirtless photo of Scott Brown Means Something in her column this morning, and points to more practical reasons why Brown might have gone bare-chested. Wasn’t he just “avoiding the embarrassment of wearing his team’s official T-shirt—’Buckley’s Frozen Seamen?'”

That’s the best explanation we’ve heard all week.