Freedom of the press is an abused privilege.
EMMY UPDATE: Modern Family's Sofia Vergara was a 2011 Primetime Emmy Awards red carpet winner in her stunning red gown. The comedy won so many Emmys that Jane Lynch actually joked that the awards show was the "Modern Family Awards."
Sofia Margarita Vergara of Barranquilla, Colombia; the latest in a seemingly endless list of talented, attractive, blessed, and lucky people targeted. These people have worked hard and been at the right place at the right time only to find themselves exploited by those who contribute nothing to society, yet degrade those who do. The composite image below shows just a few of the publications and 'writers' who capitalized on a vermin paparazzi's photograph of Sofia in a relaxed moment, without makeup, while filming her new movie, New Years Eve
We are not aware of the circumstances of the photo, but it appears to be early on a very cold morning. (We have blurred the photo, but it simply shows Sofia without glamor makeup.) Forget what you see in the movies about the movies. Film and television production can be brutal, especially for the lead actors and crew. Anyone who has worked on set for longer than five minutes knows that shoot schedules typically begin at ungodly hours and are frequently long days followed by forty-one seconds of sleep, then another terminally long day. Yes, there are absurd sums of money and so on, but let's stay on topic.
contributes to E Online and is one of several who decided to publish a picture of Sofia primped for a photo shoot, next to a 'no makeup' paparazzi photo. Whether or not writers like Ms. Riley textually judge her looks in this manner, the mere display of the photos is clearly a blatant attempt to contrast the glamorous against the non-glamorous. The writer's stated intention is irrelevant because the effect is the same; an attempt to degrade
. It's no different than other tabloid 'journalists' who spy in windows or provoke confrontation. It is more passive, but just as despicable. It would be interesting to see a shot of an 'un-glamed' Katherine Riley or anyone else who practices this 'journalism' style the next time they run these comparison editorials.
Freedom of the press, a privilege of living in the United States, should still be accompanied with a modicum of ethics, morality and honor.
The most harsh editorial by Siskel & Ebert, Ed Bradley, Dan Rather, Arianna Huffington, or even Rush Limbaugh is still accompanied by a valid viewpoint. One doesn't need to agree with a viewpoint to appreciate it's validity.
As Publisher of AND Magazine, national publications before this and even on national radio as an interviewer, I've always tried my hardest to follow the second golden rule at my home;
If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
Lord knows I am far from perfect and venom may have slipped from my mouth at times, but here at AND and at my previous publication, (Buzzine Magazine
) my Editor in Chief Richard Elfman and I always made sure to never degrade for the sake of degrading. Sure, there were critiques, but they were never at someone's expense and they were always constructive.
It's not that hard Katherine. Try it.
As for you Sofia, we say good for you!
You're doing fantastic. Your work speaks for itself. Your looks need no explanation. Your reputation is fantastic. Thank you too for your contribution to the business, fashion, beauty and acting world.
Graciousness can pay priceless dividends
Perhaps Bob Greene
's recent editorial can more eloquently shed some insight as to what it means to be gracious when doled a bit of authority or influence;
Graciousness can pay priceless dividends.
And it doesn't cost a thing.
You may have heard the story about what happened between White House adviser Valerie Jarrett and Four-star Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli at a recent Washington dinner.
As reported by the website Daily Caller, Jarrett, a longtime Chicago friend of President Obama, was seated at the dinner when a general -- later identified as Chiarelli, the No. 2-ranking general in the U.S. Army hierarchy, who was also a guest at the gathering -- walked behind her. Chiarelli was in full dress uniform.
Jarrett, apparently only seeing Chiarelli's striped uniform pants, thought that he was a waiter. She asked him to get her a glass of wine.
She was said to be mortified as soon as she realized her mistake, and who wouldn't be? But the instructive part of this tale is what Chiarelli did next.
Rather than take offense, or try to make Jarrett feel small for her blunder, the general, in good humor, went and poured her a glass of wine. It was evident that he wanted to defuse the awkward moment, and to let Jarrett know that she should not feel embarrassed.
As Chiarelli wrote in an e-mail to CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr:
"It was an honest mistake that ANYONE could have made. She was sitting, I was standing and walking behind her and all she saw were the two stripes on my pants which were almost identical to the waiters' pants -- REALLY. She apologized and will come to the house for dinner if a date can be worked out in March."
Now, even if you've never met Chiarelli or followed him in the news, you have to be impressed with him after hearing that story. With his lofty rank in the military, he could have given Jarrett the deep freeze, reproached her and corrected her. But he poured her the wine -- "It was only good fun," he wrote to Starr -- and invited her to a meal at his home. He came out of the incident as a decent and magnanimous person.
It's easy to do, if you care about other people's feelings. Sportswriters who covered the National Basketball Association in the late 1980s and 1990s like to tell a story about Karl Malone, the great forward for the Utah Jazz. It seems that one day in the baggage-claim area of the Salt Lake City airport, a woman was trying to lift her bags from the carousel and, seeing Malone, who was there to pick up his brother from an arriving flight, mistook him for a skycap.
She asked him to carry her bags to her car.
Malone was a wealthy and world-famous athlete at the time. He could so easily have hurt the woman's feelings, rebuked her. But what did he do?
According to longtime Salt Lake Tribune sports reporter Steve Luhm, who covered the incident at the time and who confirmed it to me last week, Malone carried the woman's bags all the way to her car. Only when she reached for her purse to give him a tip did he in a friendly manner introduce himself and decline the offer.
One of the most indelible stories about a person going out of his way to avoid humiliating another person was told in Gay Talese's 1966 Esquire article "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold," widely considered to be perhaps the finest magazine profile ever written.
In the article, Talese described a party at the home of Sinatra's former wife, at which Sinatra, who maintained cordial relations with her, was acting as host. A young woman at the party, according to Talese, "while leaning against a table, accidentally with her elbow knocked over one of a pair of alabaster birds to the floor, smashing it to pieces."
Talese wrote that Sinatra's daughter Nancy, also a guest at the party, started to say: "Oh, that was one of my mother's favorite..."
"[B]ut before she could complete the sentence, Sinatra glared at her, cutting her off, and while 40 other guests in the room all stared in silence, Sinatra walked over, quickly with his finger flicked the other alabaster bird off the table, smashing it to pieces, and then put an arm gently around [the young woman] and said, in a way that put her completely at ease, 'That's OK, kid.' "
It can work the other way, too, and can be remembered just as long. I was once working on a profile of a famous singer, also for Esquire, and one evening we rode in his limousine to a concert hall. As he walked backstage he was stopped by a young, nervous and inexperienced usher with a clipboard who had been assigned to make certain everyone in the area was authorized. The usher asked the famous singer if he was the comedian who would open the show.
The singer did not speak to the young usher or make eye contact with him, but instead walked immediately over to a person in the management of the auditorium and demanded that the usher be dismissed.
The singer, in trying to make the young man who had made a mistake feel small, had only managed to make himself seem tiny. What Gen. Chiarelli did, though -- like Karl Malone, like Frank Sinatra -- was to demonstrate, instinctively and in an instant, what it means to be a big person.
The rest of us may never reach the exalted status of those three men. But kindness knows no social stratum. Every day, we're given the choice. Consideration? It's free of charge. It can echo forever.