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Media deference to politicians was even more common earlier in the 20th century. K., Harold Macmillan, prime minister from 1957 to 1963, was happily married to Lady Dorothy Cavendish, the daughter of the duke of Devonshire, but in private she had a long-term affair with another Conservative member of Parliament, the redoubtable Robert Boothby.

It was not made public until long afterward, nor was the relationship, possibly never consummated, between Herbert Asquith, prime minister from 1908 until 1916, with the young Venetia Stanley, though he wrote intimate notes and letters to her virtually every day, even when he was chairing Cabinet meetings.

The family values that had dominated public discourse in the 1950s were symbolized in the most glamorous possible way by the first family, and the news media had invested a good deal in sustaining the image of a president who was inspiring, young, and idealistic — and had no interest in tarnishing it.

It was not only the American press that kept politicians' affairs quiet.

A number of contestants in the beauty pageants run by Trump over the years — including Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and others — have claimed that he entered their dressing rooms without warning when they were naked or getting their costumes on; other women have charged him with unwanted sexual contact, including kissing and groping. You can do anything." But Trump simply dismissed this as "locker room talk" and denied it had anything to do with the way he really behaved toward women.

How should we make sense of Trump's seeming immunity to sex scandals, especially amid the growing feminist #Me Too movement?

Is it an object lesson in how the public doesn't care about what our leaders do or say in private, so long as they respond with sufficient incredulity and are perceived to carry out their duties effectively in public?

Trump and his aides have said all these allegations are part of a coordinated campaign to discredit him and that all the women are lying. In the face of the corroborating evidence, Trump's outright denials might seem rather desperate, especially as other politicians, such as Minnesota Sen.

His case wasn't helped by tapes from 2005, leaked during the election campaign, that recording him saying: "When you're a star, they let you do it. Al Franken, and prominent figures in industries from film to media have recently been forced to step down for lesser sexual accusations.

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