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How to Read Past a Headline

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Q.  This Prop 8 is getting out of control. I’m headed to LA next month and hopefully the town isn’t burning when I land. Dude, what is Tom Hanks thinking getting in the middle of this? Is this the time to be blurting out audibles with a microphone in your face? I know the media asks the questions but jeez. Even Rodney King is thinking this was a stupid idea.

A.  I saw the Hanks thing. It’s so easy for certain people to retreat from bad PR. Like a cat, he’ll land on his feet. We’re probably the only people left talking about it — that’s how fast it drops off the radar.

With the headline: Tom Hanks Apologizes for Calling Mormon Supporters of Proposition 8 ‘Un-American’ … you can fully expect that one of the opening paragraphs will include: “the actor said in a statement through his publicist.” Sure enough

Just once, can a liberal issue an on-camera apology? People like Hanks make their living in front of the camera but at the first sign of trouble, it’s an issued statement, a blog post, tweet or a press release apology that the New York Times buries on Page 28C. Actually, ad revenue is down — they’d hide it on 16B or just not bother cover it at all. In this case, Hanks felt so apologetic that he didn’t even bother make the apology himself. He could have acted apologetically in front of a camera and I’m sure it would have been believable, based on his resume.

But this apology is accepted. The story ends, case closed. Try that, Mel Gibson.


This doesn’t work for Republicans mired in scandal. They’re either guilted into an on-camera crucifixion due to a perceived higher level of conviction or they’re just too dumb to do what Democrats do brilliantly — hide behind a rock, avoid cameras for 4-6 weeks and wait until some other news event shifts the scrutiny elsewhere, then crawl back into the fold. Few Democrats are stupid enough to face the press to publicly apologize and no need to.

Larry Craig had to face the cameras and the media treated the event like a pig roast. An issued press release just would not have cut it, the media wants to see the wife at the podium. Caroline Kennedy drops her senate bid at midnight and says it’s for personal reasons. Imagine Sarah Palin trying that. When it’s a Democrat, the media moves to another subject — nothing to see here. With a Republican, they don’t stop digging until a corpse is produced. It becomes the job.

This proves that the on-camera “gotcha” moment is now mightier than the sword. There were countless moronic statements made during the 2008 presidential campaign and they were barely covered. Democrats may fall down the same well as little Timmy but the media focuses on the rescue effort and the brave dog that saved them where the Republican is portrayed as the idiot kid who should have known not to play so close to the well. A sidebar story will follow detailing all the other neighborhood kids who’ve never fallen into a well.

The issued statement is like the depth charges a submarine uses to scatter oncoming torpedoes. It’s the first line of defense and this is something that liberals have better success with than conservatives because the media will grab onto them as an explosive distraction rather than having to focus on the question of what the sub is fleeing from.

An Illinois governor with an (R) after his name would have had to resign the week the Blagojevich story broke. It’s the difference between upholding a supposed level of strong moral fiber versus not allowing conviction to interfere with success. It’s a need to “get back to work to focus on doing the work of the people” and a public willfully buying the line. Liberals are judged on good intentions while conservatives could not proceed with a career in politics after, say, leaving a staffer to drown while fleeing the scene drunk. The (D) can fight it out with more time in the pocket with the media’s strong offensive line allowing protection. The (R) usually gets sacked.

Hanks was originally cavalier and blindly flow-going in his singling out the Mormons relating to the Prop 8 vote, mainly because he and everyone who find that church such an easy target are frightened to a fecal-releasing degree in attacking the Latino and African-American communities who supported Prop 8 in the same manner. Would Hanks dare roll east on the I-10 to take up this grievance in Boyle Heights or the Crenshaw?

It’s a particularly gutless choice to attack the Mormon church to begin with but for Hanks to then have an underling do his dirty work in offering the apology, it’s just hard imagining this guy storming the beach at Normandy and believing the film anymore. I’m certainly not trying to single out Tom Hanks and I’m by no means a Hanks hater, I’d just appreciate more substance in the argument and testicles in the sack.

The spokesperson was not named so I’d be careless if I didn’t commend Hanks on the loyalty he displayed in allowing the underling to hide behind the rock beside him. Possibly it wasn’t the same rock, more likely a smaller, less posh rock in the Valley but the point is still valid.

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