With the advisory that there won't be any videos for the next three days because we're shooting other stuff (and I'm appearing on David Letterman's Show on Wednesday), here are the Worst Persons for May 9, 2011.
The bronze goes to Bill Simmons, a writer for ESPN. The two-time defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant were about to lose their fourth game in the best of seven series to the Dallas Mavericks. So, since the game was to be played in Dallas, in what passes for wit among half-wits, Simmons tweeted:
The Kobe era just made the turn at Dealey Plaza and passed the book depository...
This reference to the assassination of John F. Kennedy might not bother you (it didn't seem to bother Simmons, who despite a degree in political science might qualify as one of the least plugged-into-reality people in sports), but as somebody who knows two of the late president's nephews, it bothers me. So I tweeted back that it was tasteless.
Simmons' response was not to defend the remark nor apologize for it. He tweeted back some hackneyed personal attacks on me, highlighted by two incidents I long ago had apologized for (one of the apologies dates to 2002), another of which was a total fabrication about my career. That was it – no "maybe that was over the top" and not even one of those watered down "if anyone was offended" non-apology apologies.
As an aside, this is the second time I've criticized this writer and both times I was shocked by the response. Shocked, that is, by the number of people I heard from at ESPN congratulating me on taking on The Sacred Cow of Bristol. He apparently has more detractors internally there than anybody since...well...me.
Our runners-up: Atlantic Southeast Airlines, which has yet to fire two pilots who forced Muslim clerics Masudur Rahman and Mohamed Zaghlou off their flight from Memphis to North Carolina. The pilots evidently believed the two Imams – in their religious attire – made other passengers nervous. The men were re-screened, and the pilots still refused to let them board, and took off without them.
What this – the equivalent of throwing a couple of nuns or priests off a flight – is all about is unclear. But check out this quote from a wire account:
One representative of Delta Air Lines, who claimed to be advocating on the two men's behalf, came out visibly red-faced after a long talk with the pilot, according to Rahman. This was after the plane had returned to the gate and Rahman and Zaghoul had gotten off and gone through a secondary screening process. Shortly thereafter, the plane took off — without the men, who hadn't been allowed back on board.
The two Imams were, of course, headed to North Carolina for a conference on intolerance against Muslims.
If this sounds familiar to you, it should. In November 2006, six Imams were kicked off a US Airways flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix. Their crime? They were praying, they were sitting separately, and some of them asked for seat-belt extenders. Even after the re-screening of the Imams and a sweep of the plane turned up absolutely nothing, one passenger told reporters:
"These guys were up to no good. We think the airport people did a real good job in taking care of it."
Later on the issue became the danger of innocent bystanders being victimized: the passengers who complained.
But our winner: Greg W. Howard, who tweeted just another one of those "accidents" confusing Barack Obama and Osama Bin Laden:
Based on the twitter feed on it, this appears to be Mr. Howard's site. There's either a lot of hate on it, or a lot of typos. It has apparently not been updated since February, which may or may not have anything to do with the fact that this "financial advisor" filed for bankruptcy the year before.
You know, a week ago, here, typing in a hurry, I did a very mild form of this myself. I wrote that George W. Bush had personally de-prioritized the "hunt for Obama." And you know what? It was very much a Freudian slip. Because alone among the leading Republicans of 2008, Bush did not attack his eventual successor's credentials, experience, loyalty or birth.
So even if this pig Howard simply "slipped" in tweeting that "Obama's" body should be used as a latrine, or hung from the Statue of Liberty – if it was just a Freudian slip, it was because Howard's unconscious was pondering, perhaps advocating, just such an assassination.
More over, a tweet is not a thousand-word blog post nor even an on-air blooper. It's a 140-character haiku and most tweeters have to agonize over every letter and space to make it all fit and make it all make sense. You review it and review it.
In short: if, in a typo, you publicly advocate hanging a president of the United States, you apologize for it. Otherwise it will be assumed you meant it – which makes Greg W. Howard the Worst Person of the Day.