FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2013
DANGER, LEATHER AND THE ROYALS
BY BOB FRANKEN
My choice as the best campaign slogan ever was the one that got a flagrantly corrupt Edwin Edwards re-elected governor of Louisiana in 1991. His opponent was Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, but Edwards supporters came up with a winning “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important.”
Perhaps Anthony Weiner will have some luck with “Vote for the Perv.” He had been doing very well with his reformed-sinner act in his run for mayor of New York, insisting that since getting caught exposing himself on Twitter and resigning in disgrace from Congress in 2011, he was a changed man. But that was two years ago. Turns out that in the meantime, he’s been sending more sleazy Twitter pictures of himself to other women, this time using the online alias “Carlos Danger.” One tweetheart has come forward and identified herself as Sydney Leathers. Is it me, or does this sound like a porno? Actually, it is one. Even though he’s tanking in the polls, Mr. Danger, uh, Weiner, is hanging on and staying in the race, with his wife Huma Abedin by his side. So far. She’s committed to their marriage, she told reporters, though for a while, “it was not an easy choice.” Ya think? This is clearly one of the most long-suffering spouses in history. Or one of the most politically ambitious. It’s worth mentioning that she has long been an aide to Hillary Clinton.
Once again, Weiner gave the news nets a chance to do what we do best, which is to overcover a story. At least it was a reprieve from all the ooey gooeyness about the royal birth in London. Frankly, the gushing was becoming a royal pain. It was nice to see how adeptly Buckingham Palace PR handled the whole thing, including the way developments were spread via Twitter. Maybe a certain candidate for NYC mayor can take some lessons about the proper use of social media.
As for the incessant coverage of silliness, it’s easy to understand. How many times do we need to hear President Barack Obama make the same economic speech he’s been making for years? How many times do we need to watch House Republicans vote to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act? How many times do we need to be told that superleaker Edward Snowden is still rattling around Russia, while Vladimir Putin milks the situation for all it’s worth and decides whether to give Snowden asylum?
That’s the problem for those of us in news biz. Just about all the significant issues of the day don’t get properly analyzed, given the microscopic boundaries of our attention spans. Our fiscal problems, the delivery of medical care, national security -- they can’t be resolved with one or two sound bites or a couple of 140-character tweets, even ones with pictures. We’ve been conditioned to believe any discussion can be brief, done with in an instant, so we can flit like simple moths to the next news flame. We have no patience for intricacy or nuance. If a matter can’t be settled after a couple of people yell at each other on TV, we lose interest. An exception is the blanket coverage of the high-profile trial. Even there, though, we usually go for lurid cases as opposed to those which address important social or policy matters. The legal proceedings against George Zimmerman for his killing Trayvon Martin and the not-guilty verdict were an oddity, in that they got stratospheric ratings, causing cable rapture, at the time they focused America on the state of race relations in the country. It’s fair to say that the viewership numbers meant a lot more to news executives than any collateral social benefit, but we can use the insight, whatever the motivation.
How’s this for a slogan that would be useful to questionable politicians and those of us in the media: “We can do better.”
© 2013 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.