Friday, December 2, 2011

Yep, I canceled Andy Rooney's column

Originally published in the Tuscarawas County edition of the Bargain Hunter.

Perhaps you’ll remember that the local daily newspaper used to carry a weekly commentary by Andy Rooney, the old curmudgeon who got a few minutes every week at the end of CBS’s “60 Minutes.”

Rooney died recently after a long and distinguished career as a war correspondent, TV news writer, columnist and commentator. Rooney has been applauded as an exemplary example of an American journalist.

Meet the rat who canceled his commentary in the Times-Reporter.

I can’t remember what his last T-R offering was about, but it seemed to me to be so inane that it was a waste of our readers’ time, even if it was being published on a Saturday, when no one read the newspaper anyway.
Details are sketchy now, but I remember saying something like this to our editorial page editor, Jon Baker:
“Jon, what the heck was Rooney’s column about? I didn’t get it. It didn’t make sense. Let’s not use him anymore. See if anyone notices.”

And that was that. Rooney, still wildly popular on TV, disappeared from the T-R’s editorial page. And if my recollection serves me well, no one complained.

During my stint as editor, I canceled a lot of features and columnists, sometimes because of budget cuts and sometimes because we needed to freshen things up a bit.

For example, I was ecstatic that Victor Davis Hanson, a conservative whose writing I followed in the National Review, launched a newspaper column. I bought him in a heartbeat, passing over the blonde bombshell conservative Ann Coulter, whose column I tracked over a long period of time. (Google “blonde conservative writer” and Ann Coulter comes up. True story.)

Couldn’t pull the trigger on her. She seemed to me to have crossed the line more than a couple of times.
Hanson, in my mind, wrote one of the best columns in the wake of 9/11, warning the rest of the world to get on board with the U.S. because “the train was leaving the station.” OK, that was in my wild and crazy conservative days – before so many thousands of our young people lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Funny how a person can move around the political spectrum during the course of a lifetime. I’m somewhere between Fox News and MSNBC at this point.

So, risking my credibility, I offer to you that I have no deep thoughts this week, no criticisms of government, politicos, voters or ideologies.

So, here it goes…

My friends at Zoar Village Golf Course repeatedly have asked me to state emphatically in my commentary that golfers need to speed up the course of play.

I tried to explain to them – emphatically – that probably most of my readers don’t care whether golfers speed up the course of their play. I mean, yes, it’s important if you’re a golfer, but if you’re not, well, then you don’t really care, do you?

(This is paragraph No. 3 on this subject and I promise it will be the last one.) So, slow golfers, get the lead out of your pants, don’t play the blue tees unless you drive the ball 280 yards or better and just putt the darn thing instead of fantasizing that you’re playing in the Masters for the championship.

Little did I know that the entire world of toys has changed since my kids were toddlers more than 25 years ago.

I’m not sure how you spent your Cyber Monday, but I spent mine searching for something called GeoTrax train sets. (What the heck happened to Lionel, anyway?) Happy to report that I found a couple of GeoTrax sets on eBay after a futile online search at the traditional retailers. Everyone must be buying these GeoTrax sets.

By the way, do not tell my grandchildren that they’re getting GeoTrax train sets for Christmas or I will be really upset. I want this to be a surprise. Great to be young again.


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