Sad? Yes. News? How?
Do ugly people ever vanish?
Do the homely ever have gut-wrenching custody fights?
What then of the terminally plain? Do their problems ever see the light of day?
I don't think so, at least not judging by what I see on network t-v.
Our in-studio monitors are both tapped into morning news shows--one is on "Today", the other on HNN. Rare is the moment of late when I don't look up and see David Goldman and his son on one screen, or both.
Goldman, if you don't know, is the New Jersey dad whose boy is the focus of a prolonged international custody battle. Goldman's wife left for Brazil with the kid five years, ostensibly for a two-week vacation. When she got there, she divorced Goldman and married a Brazilian lawyer she died there last September. Goldman wants the boy back, but Brazilian courts keep jacking him around. The kid remains with his step dad in Brazil.
I can imagine the pain. I sure wouldn't want to be in this father's shoes. But is it really a story worth the breathless coverage it's getting on the major networks? Does world peace--or even the fate of US/Brazilian relations--hang in the balance?
There are gut-wrenching child custody stories right here in the states--enough, I'm sure, to fill an entire newscast every day with compelling, emotional copy. What then of the overseas adoption cases you hear about? The ones involving years of double-speak, paperwork snafus, and broken promises? Why aren't those poor bastards getting some couch time with Matt Lauer?
You can't tell every story, I guess. So maybe you only do the ones with extremely good looking subjects.
I don't know how many men have seen their wives flee to a foreign country with the offspring, never to return. I'd put down some serious cash that they probably aren't as GQ camera-genic as David Goldman.
Looks like he fell out of central casting. Not his fault. It's just a fact.
Toss in a cute little boy, a scrapbook full of still photos showing the two cavorting in piles of leaves, and you've got lots of eye-pleasing b-roll. The heart melts, and the eye won't turn away.
Like a p-r still from a "Lifetime" made-for-tv movie, isn't it?
My darker, more cynical side tells me that if David Goldman looked--and spoke--like Larry the Cable guy, he'd be lucky to get his story told on an overnight crime documentary on Court TV. As it is, the Goldman story is EVERYWHERE and thus, a draw for politicians eager to help solve the custody riddle while reaping the public relations rewards. And that, my friends, is the tragedy: there's only so much air time, but there are SO many deserving stories.
The networks get ripped--and rightly so--for falling in love with stories about attractive missing white women and kids. Surely bad things happen to we, the plain, the old, the mis-shapen--but when they do, they are trees falling in the woods. Virtually no one is there to hear them go "thud". Lord help the homely when their child wanders off or gets abducted. The winsome get Larry King and Meredith Vierra. Just plain folks?
I guess that's what milk cartons are for.