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Scandal-obsessed media sell us short

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By Rob Witwer

Another season, another scandal. This time, a minor car accident in Florida gave rise to a story that culminated in Tiger Woods issuing a public statement confessing to “transgressions.”

In what appears to be a semi-annual ritual, the press is having a field day with the foibles of another celebrity. Talk shows talk. Experts offer opinions. Eyebrows are raised. Heads move gravely from side to side.

Are we the better for it?

We aren’t. In fact, we’re lessened by our obsession with the faults and failings of others. As though perfection were attainable, we stroke our chins and wag our fingers at fellow humans who fall short, forgetting that we all do in one way or another.

Like gossip, these stories may offer a moment of prurient, ephemeral satisfaction. But it’s more than outweighed by the damage done to our collective soul.

When I served in the legislature, I saw countless acts of selflessness, kindness, bipartisanship and just plain decency. None made headlines. But when a colleague would make an ill-advised remark, or did something less than wise, it was all over TV or the radio.

Here’s a message to the talking heads: please try — just once or twice a week — to focus on the kind, thoughtful things people do. Yes, tell us the whole story — but don’t sell short the goodness, either. Remember the things we talk about as a society help create our culture, which in turn shapes our kids’ views of the world.

Tearing down the Tigers of the world doesn’t elevate us. It just makes us party to the same tawdry transgressions.

Rob Witwer, who grew up in Evergreen and currently lives in Genesee, is a former member of the state House of Representatives.