We're fresh out of scandals? Let's rehash the old ones

March 04, 1994|By MIKE LITTWIN

We are in a dangerous period. You can look at the headlines and see the problem. There are stories on health care and gun control and budget meetings. Like anyone's going to read them.

If there's one thing we understand in the news biz, it's that we need scandal. Scandal sells. Scandal puts food on the table.

Let's take the Nancy-Tonya affair, only the single biggest international story since Yalta.

People were so mesmerized by the dimensions of the scandal that they actually tuned in to watch the luge just, I'm guessing, on the off chance that Tonya would come sliding down the course topless, shouting "Gill-o-o-o-ly."

But all the fun's over now. Whatever the judges said, Nancy is the clear winner. And while she's off griping about being at Disney World, Tonya is working at a Jiffy Lube in Portland.

With the end of that story, we're basically scandal-free. What a time we've had, though, recently. This past year has been to trash journalism what the Renaissance was to Italy.

Now, we're facing a period of withdrawal.

A final recap (or, as Tonya might say, kneecap) for those of you who haven't been keeping score:

* Michael Jackson bought off his "friend." Then as penance, he agreed to spend an entire night with his family, including Tito.

* Lorena Bobbitt is already out of a mental hospital and back to working as a manicurist although she's not allowed, by court order, to touch anything sharper than a nail file. John Wayne Bobbitt, as comeback player of the year, is defending himself in a paternity suit.

* The Menendez brothers? They whack their parents. They get a couple of hung juries. Yeah, we're on pins and needles for the retrial.

You want irony? (We love irony in the news biz, too, so long as it's not too literary.) It's the 20th anniversary of People magazine, and there's not a scandal worth the paper it's printed on. I'm not sure, but I hear the next People cover is on Al Gore's vision for the next century. Hope you don't get trampled on the way to your neighborhood newsstand.

Meanwhile, "Hard Copy" is stuck with Amy-Fisher-making-license-plates re-enactments. These are hard times, folks.

We need something juicy to get us through the rest of this interminable winter. I mean, how many times can you watch the video of Bono doing Lenny Bruce at the Grammys?

Here's the kind of scandal I'm talking about. What if Rush Limbaugh spends two weeks trapped in an extra-large sleeping bag at Michael Jackson's ranch?

Or, Cal Ripken finally concedes that habitual milk abuse causes hair loss in shortstops and checks into the Sy Sperling Hair Club for Men Clinic.

I know. Hillary Rodham Clinton shoots a man in Reno. Just to watch him die.

Instead, we get Whitewater. Do you have any idea what Whitewater is about? The way I understand it, it's got something to do with a river and Arkansas inbreeding. In the movie, somebody would be playing a banjo.

Turns out, the only person who cares about this is Newt Gingrich.

We've got this spy story that, just a few years ago, would have been fascinating. But timing, as John Cameron Swayze once said, is everything.

The Cold War is over. It is time to move on.

Besides, all the official outrage out of Washington may not be completely honest, unless you think we don't have any spies left in Russia, keeping track of our new friends there.

The real scandal is that the CIA couldn't figure out that Rick Ames and his wife were on the KGB payroll. You've probably heard the numbers. Ames made $70,000 a year. He owns a new Jag. He spent $540,000 in cash for a house. He's got more money under his mattress than John Gotti.

And every year at the office Halloween party, he'd come dressed somebody named Vladimir Ilyich.

And how did they finally catch this master spy?

When word got around the office that Boris Yeltsin kept calling Ames using 1-800-COLLECT.

Nope, this scandal will last about as long as Roseanne's TV kiss with Mariel Hemingway at the gay bar.

Of course, the good news is that something will happen.

K? It always does. It has to. It's in Maury Povich's contract.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.