The [Tuesday] Papers
By Steve Rhodes
1. Barack Obama was right during the 2008 presidential campaign when he said - like every other Democrat - that we should have dedicated ourselves to the war in Afghanistan instead of getting distracted by Iraq. But by apparently deciding to escalate the war in Afghanistan - something he is expected to announce tonight - he is fighting the last war. You can't go back and make up for George W. Bush's mistakes. The circumstances in Afghanistan have changed dramatically - even since the campaign - and the only sensible move to make is to get out. It's a move that would be politically difficult, one that would demand the courage of a candidate who campaigned on change. But also one that only a person who had ever demonstrated courage in the past could pull off. And that's not our president.
2. Traffic accidents - and possible crimes - are always the public's business. All this hew-hawing about whether we have a right to know the real story behind Tiger Woods's little adventure the other day is nonsense. And not just because Woods's silence is a poor public relations strategy. (I love it when journalists advise public figures how to do a better job of manipulating us to protect their image.)
It's basic journalism.
Woods was involved in what is being called a traffic accident. Public safety employees responded to the scene and continue to investigate. That's taxpayer money at work. And the basic premise in journalism is that the public has a right to know how that money is being spent and if the system is working fairly - in this case, if a wealthy athlete and celebrity is being treated differently than the average civilian.
That doesn't excuse a tabloid stew of speculation and innuendo, but it does justify reporters pressing Woods - and authorities - for answers. The result may be a tiny boring story showing something routine happened, or it may be something else. But reporters aren't doing their jobs if they don't go through the process.
Additionally, reporters would be negligent if they just let this go because a celebrity is involved when there are legitimate questions about whether a crime - domestic abuse - was committed. I would never equate Tiger Woods (or his wife) with O.J. Simpson, but then no one would have equated the old O.J. Simpson with the one we came to know.
Finally, while Woods is not a public official, he can attribute a large chunk of his wealth to the image he has crafted to sell a myriad of products. Michael Jordan went so far as to advise kids to be like him, without disclosing that being like him meant being an adulterous gambler whose competitiveness was fired by an unbelievably deep well of pettiness.
Instead of advising Woods on how to best preserve his image, journalists ought to stop enabling image-building and treat celebrities like the real humans they are. In the long run, that approach might even help someone like Woods far better when an incident like this happens.
The media keeps repeating the apparent fact that Woods is under no obligation to talk to the police as long as the incident is categorized as a traffic accident. I wish the media would explain why. That's a new one to me. I mean, I know you have the right to remain silent if you've been arrested. But if you are the driver of a vehicle that has crashed? He'll at least have to talk to his insurance company, won't he?
3. I had the same reaction to the New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story about Joe Biden as Slate's Jack Shafer:
"Shafer's first law of journalism states that no article can be created or destroyed; it can only change form.
"This timeless truth gets a workout in the pages of our most prestigious newspapers and magazines with the election of every new vice president. Whether composed by a reporter assigned to the vice president beat who hopes that a little exaggeration will raise the profile of his work or by a bureau chief who figures that extravagant praise in print will provide the source grease for future scoops, the 'he's the most powerful vice president ever' story has become a Washington staple."
When the vice president is less powerful than the chief of staff, the premise the Times is advancing can't possibly be true.
5. Charlie Weis was fired before we got a chance to do a (Charlie) Weis vs. (Jody) Weis. But we do have Lovie Smith vs. Lovie Howell today.
8. JC at Sabernomics says the Cubs just overpaid John Grabow by $3 million.
9. "Past research has hinted that technology might be the cause of social isolation; however, a new report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicates that the use of technology actually leads to increased and more diverse social networks."
And please, media, get over the "bowling alone" phenomenon; it was discredited long ago, apparently while you were sleeping.
10. "$144,000: Amount in federal stimulus funds awarded to the University of Arizona to study Hiaki, an endangered tribal language spoken by fewer than 80 aging people in the state, a project defended by a university official who said it 'adds to the building blocks . . . of knowledge' and is expected to create or save about one job."
Original Arizona Republic article here.
12. New Parking Rules!
15. Racist Admissions?
The Beachwood Tip Line: Stealth mode.
Posted on December 1, 2009
© 2006 - 2017, The Beachwood Media Company