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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Lost in the Woods

So desperate are the cable TV news networks for anything gossipy that they now have dragged out the Tiger Woods car accident story for four days, and there's no end in sight.

Reporters camped outside the gated community where Woods lives. Helicopters hovering overhead. Rumors about marital problems. Talking heads spewing speculation in lieu of any facts. The sharks smell blood, and they're gonna keep circling.

The accident happened at 2:30 a.m. Friday, just after Woods left his Orlando-area home, so the speculation is that he stormed out during an argument with his wife. OK, he had an argument with his wife. This is news? Every married couple, famous or not, has arguments. Big deal.

Then Woods, probably distracted, drove down a road, hit a fire hydrant and a tree and was treated at a hospital for injuries that obviously weren't as serious as first reported. (He was, after all, released the same day).

No crime was committed. (Woods wasn't drunk). No one other than Woods was hurt. I'm sure the mega-rich golfer will pay to have the damaged fire hydrant repaired or replaced. And that will be the end of that.

Except for the fact that the cable TV news networks, and shameless gossip-mongering Web sites like TMZ, just won't let it go.

... even if there's nothing new to report.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Poll positions

The HOATOs - people with a Hatred For All Things Obama - are positively giddy that the president's job approval rating has fallen below 50 percent in the latest Gallup Poll.

These are the same people, mind you, who always shouted "Polls don't matter!" as George W. Bush's approval rating plunged to an embarrassing 23 percent.

Also worth noting is that three presidents since World War II fell below the 50 percent threshold in the Gallup Poll earlier in their first term than Obama: Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, and - wait for it now - Ronald Wilson Reagan.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sick of Sarah ... again

So now that we're about a week into the Second Coming of Sarah Palin, let's examine what we've learned:

* The former vice presidential candidate, in her new book, "Going Rogue," continues to blame CBS News' Katie Couric for the haven't-got-a-clue answers that Palin gave Couric in an interview last fall.

* Also according to the book, Palin's more-miserable-by-the-day performance as John McCain's running mate last year was the fault of McCain's campaign officials, particularly a guy named Steve Schmidt.

* The photo of Palin in bicycle shorts on the cover of the current issue of Newsweek is sexist and an obvious attempt by the magazine to portray her in a negative light. (Never mind that Palin willingly posed for the picture.)

Good Lord, Governor - oops, I mean Former Governor - do you take responsibility for anything that goes wrong in your life? Is nothing your fault? I'd like to tell you to "grow a pair," but that would be sexist. So let's make it "grow a backbone." Own up to your mistakes. Demonstrate that, at least once in a while, the buck stops with you. Your second round as a national figure already is shaping up to be as disastrous as your first, and things won't get any better for you if you continue along the same path.

You can forget about winning (or even running for) the presidency in 2012. Your unfavorable rating is creeping up toward 70 percent in several major polls, and even a large chunk of your own party wants nothing more than for you to just go away. (They know political poison when they taste it.) The best you can hope for at this point is a few million book sales, a regular gig as a talking head on FoxNews and perhaps a flattering segment on some "Where are they now" show a decade a two from now.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Road Tripp

Sarah Palin, appearing on Oprah Winfrey's show on Monday, took a verbal swipe at Levi Johnston, the teen father of Palin's grandson, Tripp, saying the new dad doesn't spend enough time with the baby because he's "quite busy with his media tours."

I can't remember if Palin made this remark during the first, fifth or 10th East Coast broadcast interview she gave this week ... all while nearly 4,000 miles away from her children and grandchild.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

The bare facts

The editor who was designing the front page of the Freeman's Nov. 15 Life section approached me in the newsroom the other night and asked if I would have a problem with him publishing a photo, to accompany a story about breast cancer, of a topless woman giving herself a breast examination.

The photo, which I told him didn't offend me in the least, is a profile taken from the woman's left side. Her left arm is raised, partly obscuring her face, and the fingers on her right hand are pressed against her bare left breast. It's a fairly standard self-exam pose that most of us have seen depicted in photos and drawings.

Concerned, before hearing my reply, that I might be bothered by the picture, the editor pressed his case for using it by noting the nipple on the breast was not visible — as if that should be the dividing line between acceptable and obscene. I had to laugh, because those (including myself) who maintain an image of a bare breast is not obscene often note the breast's primary purpose is to provide nourishment for offspring — a process that requires the nipple. How, then, could showing the nipple make such a photo more objectionable than if the nipple were obscured?

But the editor probably was right. If we had published a photo of a completely bare female breast, nipple and all, the newsroom almost certainly would have been deluged with phone calls, letters and e-mails from people accusing us of peddling pornography and corrupting the minds of young readers.

Funny, though: We haven't received a single objection to the ads we've been running for the new movie '2012,' which depicts the annihilation of the Earth, or the film 'This Is It,' which portrays presumed child molester Michael Jackson as a person worthy of admiration.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Referendum? Hardly!

I have no doubt that FoxNews and all the right-wing radio loudmouths will spend most of Wednesday claiming the Republican wins in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races on Tuesday were referendums against the "failed policies" of Democratic President Barack Obama.


Chris Christie won in New Jersey because the incumbent, Democrat John Corzine, had grown unpopular in a state wracked with economic problems and political corruption (neither of which are likely to disappear simply because the governor's office is changing hands); and Bob McDonnell beat Democrat R. Creigh Deeds in Virginia because the state long has leaned to the right and simply reverted to its old ways a year after favoring Obama.

And what Fox and the rightie radio guys surely won't spend much time talking about on Wednesday is the fact that Democrat Bill Owens won the vacant House seat in New York's 23rd Congressional District - a seat that's been in Republican hands for 150 years.

If there is to be a referendum for or against Obama's policies, it will be in the 2010 House and Senate elections - the so-called "mid-terms." Anyone who tells you a few scattered races in 2009 are an accurate gauge of the nation's mood is, quite simply, full of it.