Life after Grampy
What a fascinating 24 hours for politics and print journalism in Portlandia. First Willy Week publishes this story on the internet. It starts out sounding like another exposé by Pulitzer Jaquiss of alleged sexual misconduct with a minor by a high-ranking official in Portland. And hey -- this time it's alleged gay sexual misconduct with a teenaged intern! And it's being brought to light by the official's political rival, who's also gay. Holy moley, it's that man-on-man character assassination action we've all been hankering after.
But you read on for a while, and you realize that old Nigel's got nothing but the rumors, the scurrying around by the subjects of said rumors, and the denials. And that seems awfully curious. Over the years, I've learned that the Double Dub doesn't write or do much of anything unless it serves an agenda. So you've got to wonder, what's behind this one?
As Macchiavelli once said, "When you strike at a king, you must kill him." The boys at WW know that well. When they're preparing an assault, they know how to get the death blow all lined up before they tip their hands. If they were really after the public official in question in this case, they wouldn't have run with the story at this point. So they must be doing something other than making him look bad.
It doesn't take too much reflection to realize that they're doing just the opposite. There's only one possible purpose here, and that's to get the denials out at the same time as the rumors, while simultaneously making the accuser look bad. That must be it: it's a clever hit piece on the accuser.
Then the O jumps in, sending Anna Griffin out on a callback mission to City Hall that ends up with nothing much more than what was on the WW website earlier in the day. Did she do a hurried rewrite, or was she working on the same story and just got scooped by a half-day? (WW does appear to have some well placed moles at the O, among several other places in town.)
In the daily, the spin is the same, but much more transparent -- the accuser is definitely the bad guy. Bad bad bad.
Rounding out the comedy are Fireman Randy, who gets a chance in both stories to growl to the bad guy that thanks to enforcers of justice like the Fireman, the bad guy's through in this town (gee, even I haven't gotten that speech yet); and Vera, still a "towering figure" in Anna's eyes, who's just appalled that anyone would attack her fair-haired former aide. After all her hard work and example showing him how to gather the love from every corner, she'd hate to see anyone try to smear his name.
In both versions of the story, we get a peek into the innerworkings of the public official's office that are actually more interesting to me than whatever happened over candlelight at the Lotus Cafe after that late First Thursday dinner. Such as: Some former staffers really, really don't want their ex-boss to advance to the mayor's office. Others who work for him see it as part of their duties to keep young gay men from throwing themselves at the commish, and those staff members appear free to talk about such incidents with the media afterward. Moreover, these matters are discussed around the office "in a joking, locker room-like way." The boss "allows and even encourages aides to give him a hard time about the details of his personal life, from his fashion sense to his love life."
Oh, the next five years are going to be so entertaining around these parts. Should be a nice diversion from the fiscal collapse that's coming.
Anyway, even before this ugly episode, the accuser in this case never had a chance to be mayor. Against the guy he's attacking, he'd get beaten 2 to 1, and that's without this week's implosion. Unless he receives a last-minute reprieve in the form of some hard evidence of the sexual misconduct he's been sort-of-reporting, his political career now qualifies for a visit from the Death with Dignity people.
But I'll tell you one thing for sure: If you were writing this as a Hollywood script, you couldn't do better on the character name for the intern than Beau Breedlove.