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December 11, 2009

Celebrity Crisis to Celebrity Crisis

Roy Meachum

This nation seems to lurch from celebrity crisis to celebrity crisis. When there is none, the media declare a scandal and plunge ahead on telling people more than we want to know, particularly when previously unknowns pull off an outrageous trick on the establishment. We’re not talking about Tiger Woods, of course.


The golf champion did the best to keep his family situation on the back burner, out of sight. He claimed a right of privacy in his private affairs. Between talk-radio and the press, Mr. Woods might have been whistling Dixie, in a minor key. Somebody else would have to testify about television: Having retired from the business, I can no longer accept its shallowness and breathy pronouncements. (‘Tis true that Pushki and I watch movies and N.C.I.S. by the hours.)


Despite my protests, I remained exposed to the matter of Tiger Woods’ marital difficulties, mainly from the three newspapers I read every day. If The New York Times, The Washington Post and Frederick News-Post, from their totally dissimilar postures, agree his particular Sturm und Drang is news, there’s no way I can avoid the situation. (Let me confess what most readers already know: At times I can be venal and gossipy as anyone else around.)


On the other hand, the whiz of the greens made perfectly good sense to me. He does not live on publicity, as an entertainment star does. His public stature is not ephemeral, not to be taken away by popularity – or lack thereof. Quoting from actor John Houseman in a Smith Barney brokerage firm television ad, Mr. Woods “earned it.”


Like all men and women in the public eye, he knows both fame and adulation – like youth – are ephemeral; they will pass in time. I will not excuse any of his purported extra-marital behavior on the reality: when he’s lost his touch with irons and woods there’s an army of wannabe Tigers eager to take his place. But here and now the connection between bedrooms and links should not be linked. He lives and dies, almost literally, on each round he plays.



How sordid the media show their colors came into the “news” item of his visiting Swedish mother-in-law temporary respite in a hospital, complete with picture of the woman’s stretcher being twisted to make it down the stairs.


To younger reporters, columnists and editors, I would admonish with words spoken by attorney Joseph Welch to demagogue Sen. Joseph McCarthy: “Have you no sense of decency?”


Totally different is the instance of the couple that invited themselves to the White House state dinner. Enough already. Tareq Salahi and bottle blonde wife, Michaele, are getting exactly what they want: tons of publicity. They even got a congressional hearing thrown in – for which they demurred.


For a pair so brazen, they must be delighted with published pictures that show how they showed up at other affairs that did not invite them. They were photographed with Barack Obama at an earlier reception; the president’s appearance had to be vetted and approved by the Secret Service – speaking of protect and serve.


The seeming fear of assuming keeps me away from speculating here on how they each, and jointly, reacted to apparently the endless parade of debtors who accuse them of rip-offs.


Of the two, the blonde wife appears the more guilty for their con games. She played long ago when she inserted herself into the alumnae of Redskin cheerleaders. On the record Michaele Salahi simply has no shame in the pursuit of fame; she does not want to spend what’s left of her life in anonymity and alone. Her husband strikes me as a man who will do anything to impress his “little lady.”


And there we are: Tiger Woods has made painstaking clear he doesn’t want more ink and air-time; his claim to privacy was not a ploy. The little boys and girls who look up to him are primarily fascinated by the way he makes golf appear so easy. As for the uninvited couple that talked their way into the White House state dinner, they don’t deserve more fame.


Whoops, in this column I am guilty of the same sin that I condemn other journalists for. Amen.


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