“Donald Trump: Reacted to the news of Princess Diana’s death by lamenting he never got the chance to sleep with her. Earmarked a reported teeny-tiny portion of his earnings for charity. Visited a public school in an impoverished neighborhood and dropped a phony $1 million bill into a donation box as a joke. Dumped Marla Maples before a prenup clause could kick in, and started dating a series of idiot models. Actually boasted about the sleazy rock stars trying to have sex with his 15-year-old model daughter Ivanka. Threatened to run for president, just because.
“And he still has the bad hair.”
That was my take on Donald J. Trump in the Dec. 19, 1999, edition of your Chicago Sun-Times.
Trump was a GOOF then, and he’s a frighteningly GOOFY GOOF now.
It’s time once again for the annual GOOFs (Greatly Overhyped and Overexposed Fools), spotlighting the most scandalous, the silliest and the most salacious people and stories of the year.
The first recipients: Milli Vanilli. Past “winners” include the Kardashians, O.J. Simpson, Jerry Springer, Dennis Rodman, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Shia LaBeouf, Charlie Sheen — and Donald Trump, on multiple occasions.
Spoiler alert! I’m not going to award the GOOF to Trump this year. I’m not even going to award the GOOF to Trump’s Twitter account.
Let’s steer clear of politics (and allegations of violent crimes, e.g., the Bill Cosby scandal) and stick to the time-honored GOOF tradition of spotlighting the relatively less serious follies and foibles in the pop culture world.
The nominees are:
• Billy Bush. When that recording from 2005 surfaced, Bush issued an apology, saying, “Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened 11 years ago — I was younger, less mature and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”
A. You were only “embarrassed and ashamed” because the audio surfaced.
B. You were 33 years old.
C. If it’s “no excuse” that it happened 11 years ago, don’t issue an apology using that as an excuse.
• Anthony Weiner. The documentary “Weiner” is an astonishing, fascinating, sometimes cringe-inducing look at one of the most arrogant, narcissistic, selfish figures in modern American history. And just when we thought Weiner couldn’t be any more disgusting, we saw (and could never un-see) the photos of Weiner sexting while laying next to his 4-year-old son.
Weiner even managed to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign when an FBI investigation into Weiner’s alleged illicit text messages to an underage girl reportedly uncovered emails connected to the closed inquiry into Clinton’s private email server.
What a guy.
• Ryan Lochte. In an interview with yet-to-be-disgraced “journalist” Billy Bush, Olympian swimmer Lochte said robbers posing as police officers forced Lochte and three teammates out of a taxi and robbed them at gunpoint.
As the story started to unravel, Lochte caught a flight home, leaving his teammates in the lurch.
Like Billy Bush, Lochte apologized for his “immature” actions.
You’re 32 years old, sir. Adolescents can be immature. Teenagers can be immature. Men in their 30s (or men talking about their actions when they were in their 30s)? Not so much.
• Hiddleswift. Of all the seemingly cynical, PR-friendly celebrity romances of the last decade, the short-lived “romance” between actor Tom “Loki” Hiddleston and Taylor “This Could Be Good Material For Me!” Swift was the most ridiculous, the most calculated and the most predictably doomed of them all.
Come on, guys. Three months, when one of you is a busy actor and the other is a busy pop star, and you’re not even spending that much time together? You didn’t even earn that stupid combo-platter romance moniker.
• Gigi Hadid. This is the problem, such as it is, when you’re a 21-year-old supermodel, and you think it’s a good idea to do an impersonation of Melania Trump on national TV: You don’t have anyone around you to tell you it’s a really, really bad idea.
• Michael Strahan. The NFL great turned ubiquitous TV star floored Kelly Ripa by telling her out of the blue he was leaving “Live! with Kelly and Michael” for an even more lucrative gig on “Good Morning America.”
I don’t get the Michael Strahan thing. Never have. Granted, he’s OK as an NFL analyst, but I don’t find him any more entertaining than Howie Long, Terry Bradshaw or three dozen other athletes-turned-commentators I could name. Strahan clearly has a following as a crossover personality, and there’s no denying his ambition, his work habits and the unbridled ego one must have to carve out such a successful path on TV — but are his interview skills and ad-lib abilities that impressive?
• Pokemon Go players. Especially the ones who got injured playing that idiotic game.
• Donald Trump’s Twitter account. I know: I said we wouldn’t get political with the GOOFs this year — but, good Lord, Donald J. Trump’s Twitter account is the most incredible, the most unbelievable, the most nauseating, the most chilling, the most insanely insanely INSANE social media platform of the 21st century. (Shameless plug: My Kindle book about Trump, “666 Reasons to Fear a Trump Presidency,” includes a sampling of some of Trump’s “greatest” Twitter hits.)
• Kanye West. I’ve stopped mocking West on TV and radio because of concerns he’s genuinely, seriously, mentally ill. If that’s the case, one hopes he continues to seek treatment and get the help he so obviously needs.
Some cynics think West’s antics are all calculated efforts to grab attention. If that is the case, it would STILL be evidence Kanye needs help. The man has talent and good fortune that 99.99999 percent of the world’s population can only dream about, yet he seems perpetually angry, profoundly unhappy and seriously screwed up.
• The Mannequin Challenge. OK, there were some awesome entries: the Cleveland Cavaliers with Michelle Obama at the White House;Robert De Niro, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ellen DeGeneres, Michael Jordan, Tom Hanks et al.; also at the White House; various gymnastic teams and basketball teams and student bodies, etc., etc.
But it got old REAL FAST, didn’t it?
• • •
Worthy nominees, one and all. But the winner of the 2016 GOOF is …
FAKE NEWS AND THE PEOPLE THAT WRITE IT!!!
Every day, thousands of Twitter users, Facebookers, Snapchatters, etc., deride the “mainstream media” and traditional journalism in general for being lazy, out of touch, irresponsible, deliberately misleading, slanted, biased, horrible, terrible, worse than Satan, etc., etc.
The PEOTUS, a man who has courted the press and has often sucked up to the media for DECADES in his endless quest for the spotlight, routinely called out the media on the campaign trail and continues to do so from his Twitter perch. Donald J. Trump has gone after some of the finest journalists of the world, calling them liars and threatening to file lawsuits — even when their reportage is solid, fact-based, irrefutable journalism.
Back in the 1970s and the era of Watergate, “journalist” was considered to be one of the most admirable professions.
I’m not saying all mainstream journalism is impeccable, unbiased, mistake-free and 100 percent accurate. Nobody in my profession would ever make that claim.
But the great majority of reporters working for “traditional media” believe in obtaining the facts, checking their sources, getting both sides of the story and sharing the news of the world with their readers, viewers and listeners.
And then there’s this abhorrent, hideous, insidious, harmful thing given the too-frivolous label of “Fake News.”
Fake News is poison.
Fake News is an infectious disease targeting the truth.
Fake News is designed to prey on the uninformed and the unsophisticated.
Fake News celebrates racism, sexism, homophobia and ignorance.
Fake News is the enemy of God. The pope himself said so.
Fake News promotes hatred.
The purveyors of Fake News are laughing at us as they concoct clickbait stories designed to earn them a profit and/or advance their agendas.
A Fake News story claimed Hillary Clinton was using a pizza parlor to harbor children as sex slaves. Amazingly, appallingly, astonishingly, some people actually believed that horrible, hateful, outrageous lie. A 28-year-old man from North Carolina drove six hours to the Washington pizzeria and fired his rifle. (Fortunately, no one was hurt.) This man actually thought he was going to find child slaves at the pizzeria and that he could save them.
Yet even after his arrest and even after the dreaded “mainstream media” exposed this Fake News story for being Fake News because GOOD GOD HOW COULD IT BE ANYTHING BUT, “Twitter, Facebook and Instagram [were] flooded with more attacks against the pizzeria as believers in the child-trafficking conspiracy became more zealous,” according to the [of course wholly unreliable] New York Times.
Beware of Fake News websites with designs and names similar to legitimate news websites. Beware of tweets and Facebook postings from non-existent congressmen and spokespeople and government leaders.
Beware of Fake News. It’s completely GOOFy but not at all funny.