Saturday, April 08, 2006

School for Scandal

Sir Benjamin Backbite

Attend, ye skill’d to coin the precious tale,
Creating proof, where innuendos fail!
Whose practised memories, cruelly exact,
Omit no circumstance, except the fact!—
Attend, all ye who boast,—or old or young,—
The living libel of a slanderous tongue!

-- Richard Sheridan, School for Scandal (Address to Mrs. Crewe)

The Tampa Tribune's Michael Fechter performs the role of Sir Benjamin Backbite almost to perfection today by raking up gubernatorial candidate Rod Smith's 25-year old amicable divorce while simultaneously laying claim to higher ground by quoting someone else to say, "That could make him more susceptible to an attack about his personal history."

It's a non-story with no victims (both ex-wife and adult son still support Smith), no 'character' issues, no ethical lapses, no default in parental responsibilities, no issues of public importance (unless you count a few hours' confusion over a $92 difference caused by a judge's ambiguous order), and no relevance to the Florida gubernatorial campaign.

Just the kind of thing the New York Post might be looking for, now that its regular gossip columnist has been suspended.

Go for it, Michael.

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