So let’s see if we have this straight.
Some Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed cause rioting in the Muslim world, but the vice-president of the United States shoots someone in the face and it’s no big deal?
The New York Times gets lacerated for exposing the National Security Agency’s domestic spying, but Reuters essentially gets a pass on doctoring photos to exaggerate Israeli air strikes in Beirut?
O.J. Simpson gets $3 million for a book that never gets published, while its would-be publisher Judith Regan gets dumped like a Taco Bell burrito (not that there’s anything wrong with that)?
Steroid slugger Barry Bonds gets outed in the press via leaked grand-jury testimony, then gets a $16 million one-year contract from the San Francisco Giants — the very team he disgraced?
Sure feels like 2006 officially qualifies as a long, strange trip. Among the other high-lowlights for your consideration:
Reporting for Clean-Up Duty
The already shaky reputation of the junior-varsity senator from Massachusetts went to Iraq-and-ruin when he botched a joke in a speech to students in California. Senator John Kerry (D-Can I Get a Mulligan?) told the assembled youngsters, “You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, do your homework, make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”
Geez, nothing like leading with what’s left of your chin, eh? Kerry said it was supposed to be a swipe against George W. Bush, but it turned into one more blunder by a guy who is now capable of Swift-boating himself.
Governor’s Race (To the Door)
Smilin’ Mitt Romney, whose presidential prospects were on the rise this year, clearly demonstrated that he can’t get out of town fast enough. For one thing, this is where he employed undocumented/illegal workers/immigrants to mow his costly Belmont lawn. For another, this is where he wrote that letter to the Log Cabin Republicans of Massachusetts during the 1994 US Senate race, in which he insisted that we “must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern.”
That, of course, went over like the metric system when it, ahem, came out in the New York Times this month. Straight shooter Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told the Times, “This is quite disturbing.”
Betcha Mitt feels pretty much the same right now.
Governor’s Race (To the Bank)
Massachusetts gubernatorial hopefuls spent more than $42 million this year, only to see “grassroots” candidate Deval Patrick take the corner office.
Pop quiz: is the lesson we all learned that a) the grassroots are always greener, or b) the grassroots have plenty of green? Discuss among yourselves.
Lego His Ego
Early this year Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino launched his Legacy Tour by calling for a 1000-foot skyscraper to be built in the city’s Financial District. This month he issued a call to 1) vacate City Hall, 2) build a new one in South Boston, and 3) sell City Hall Plaza to developers.
Only two questions left: how tall should that development be, Mistah Mayah? And if it’s all about new buildings, shouldn’t this really be called your Lego-cy Tour?
P.S. The current City Hall actually looks like the capitol of Legoland. Doesn’t that count for something?
“We’re Melting . . . Melting . . . ”
The Incredible Shrinking Mainstream Media had another down(size) year, from the Wall Street Journal’s paper cut reducing it to not-so-broadsheet dimensions to the wholesale purging of local news staffs.
The Boston Globe, and especially the Boston Herald, trimmed their newsrooms significantly, while WLVI-TV and WRKO-AM entirely vaporized their news staffs. WRKO also slimmed down by shedding morning squawker John DePetro, who clearly miscalculated when he called Green Rainbow gubernatorial candidate Grace Ross a “fat lesbian.”
(Lingering question: What the hell is a Green Rainbow? Why not just call it the Oxymoron Party?)
Everybody feeling good about being Time magazine’s Person of the Year? The annual designation went to “You” for generating all that content on Internet meteors like MySpace (owned by News Corp. — how do “You” like working for Rupert Murdoch?) and YouTube (gobbled up by Google this year).
Among YouTube’s featured videos at noon on December 18 were: Sleepy Spudgy (“Spudgy falls asleep while he’s sitting up”), Hand Farting the Star Spangled Banner (self-explanatory), and Power Tool Drag Racing 4. And before “You” get on my case for missing the revolutionary impact of all this, the drag-racing video was awesome.
The Blonde Leading the Blonde
Even though we learned quite a bit about Britney Spears during her me-and-my-shadow stint with Paris Hilton, one question remains: which was the Master and which was the Grasshopper in this toothsome twosome? Or were they actually the Ant and the Grasshopper? Or just drinking grasshoppers?
Whatever. Pass the Raid, please.
Well, time’s up. And we haven’t even touched on the Fall of Larry Summers, the Rise of Sean O’Malley, the Sack of Matt Amorello, the Smack of Mel Gibson, or the Thwack of Katie Couric. As they say, wait till next year.
John Carroll is a mass communication professor at Boston University and a correspondent for WGBH-TV’s “Beat the Press” edition of Greater Boston.