Sunday, January 18, 2004

Hot corner: Nipping at the heels of the newsmakers

Simmer down, Michael

Friday's Michael Jackson was not the same one we saw a few weeks back - the one who told TV newsman Ed Bradley that police roughed him up when they booked him, injured his arm and shoulder, and that he is in constant pain.

Jackson arrived at his arraignment in Santa Barbara, Calif. 21 minutes late, then pleaded not guilty to charges of child molestation. After the two-hour legal proceeding, Jackson - with the agility of Peter Pan - leapt onto the roof of the black SUV he left in and danced. Guess the shoulder's OK.

From a media coverage standpoint, the legal proceedings surrounding Jackson's child molestation trial have been likened to that of the O.J. Simpson legal circus - more than 105 news and entertainment organizations applied for seats in the courtroom. Yet it only took two hours before Jackson arguably rivaled anything we saw during the months and months of O.J. There were Jackson impersonators, folks dressed up like Charlie Chaplain (one of Jackson's favorite actors) and supporters holding a half-block long sign proclaiming his innocence.

Invitations to Jackson's Neverland Ranch were even handed out to supporters for afternoon refreshments.

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville appeared miffed at Jackson, saying he began his court appearance on the wrong foot by showing up late. That is an understatement, considering the antics outside the court room. This is a criminal proceeding involving serious allegations of child abuse.

Instead of dancing on the roof of an automobile, and encouraging a party, Jackson should act like he's in court, not on stage.

Hold the buns, please

Burger King, the nation's No. 2 hamburger chain, has caved in to the low carb craze. Beginning Tuesday, BK is going to start selling bunless whoppers. Future menus, we are told, will feature salads with chicken, shrimp and steak. Might as well change the name, too, while you are at it. Here's one suggestion: Patty King, home of the un-Whopper. We're open to other suggestions.

Eaters of real hamburgers know the best ones require a warm, toasted, fattening bun that envelops beef, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and any of an array of sauces. Anything less than that is just a naked patty - so call it that.

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