No matter what name we give it or how we judge it, a candidate's character is central to political reporting because it is central to a citizen's decision in voting.
The relationship between press and politician - protected by the Constitution and designed to be happily adversarial - becomes sour, raw and confrontational.
The ethics of editorial judgement, however, began to go though a sea change during the late 1970s and '80s when the Carter and Reagan Administrations de-regulated the television industry.
For decades, the journalistic norm had been that the private lives of public officials remained private unless that life impinged on public performance.
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.
And what it depends on, of course, is whether the story itself is worth the ethical compromise it requires and whether the competition is onto the story.