Friday, December 25, 2009
It was the year of the Octomom, the balloon boy and the White House party crashers. The year of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" -- minus Jon. The year Tiger Woods ran into a tree, revealing a scandal that linked him not so much to another woman as duplicates of a pouty-lipped prototype.
2009 started with Octomom, a single 33-year-old mother of six who, thanks to an unfettered fertility industry, gave birth to octuplets.
Naturally -- and "naturally" isn't a word one normally would associate with the mother -- Nadya Suleman has become a reality TV star. Suleman says that she didn't have 14 kids so that she could get on TV. But without big TV bucks, she could not support her family.
So who will be watching Octo-TV? Why, viewers who think Suleman is unfit to have 14 children, yet for some reason want to tune in to watch. (It's time to change the channel, folks. At least Jerry Springer only exposes willing adults to public ridicule.)
2009 also was the year that reality TV wannabes discovered that there is such a thing as going too far to get on TV -- at least in the eyes of the law. On Oct. 15, Colorado parents Richard and Mayumi Heene falsely claimed that their son Falcon, 6, had floated away in a homemade balloon.
For more than an hour, cable news featured the aluminum saucer as it soared across a Rocky Mountain backdrop. Was the boy inside the balloon? Is there any way authorities can save him? Could he possibly survive the cold above 5,000 feet? Is there something wrong with me that I can't take my eyes off the TV set?
The balloon landed boy-less and Falcon came out of hiding. When the boy later told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "We did this for a show," and vomited on the "Today Show" and "Good Morning America," it became clear the helium-fueled flight was a hoax -- and that a good kid had been poorly used.
On Wednesday, the Heene parents were sentenced to jail and probation. Their most deserved punishment? They will have to live the rest of their lives being known as the parents who dreamed up the balloon-boy hoax.
It's not clear if Michaele and Tareq Salahi broke any criminal laws when they crashed President Obama's first state dinner in November.
At the time, they were trying to break into Bravo's "Real Housewives of D.C.," but their prank -- lawful or prosecutable -- upheld the law of unintended consequences: When you excel at attracting attention, it's not always wanted attention.
A Washington Post series on the couple reveals a flashy duet with loads of charm and unpaid debts. As the Post reported, "Claims against the couple include $59,000 to a Warrenton law firm, $19,000 to a Manassas attorney, $18,000 to a Herndon law firm, $7,400 to an Arlington firm and $5,500 to a law group in Alexandria." It may not be easy finding the next lawyer.
And it turns out that even Michaele's claim to having been a Washington Redskins cheerleader was bogus. I don't watch golf, but I do watch pundits -- and it was quite the spectator sport to observe pundits as they tried to explain how Tiger Woods could have better managed his public relations in the midst of his post-Thanksgiving bimbo eruptions.
The more reality we see on television, it appears, the less there is.
Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.
We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.
Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $3.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.