For years now I've been fooling myself, although I probably wasn't fooling anyone around me.
I walked through the FOX News Channel newsroom or at social gatherings with family and friends with complete confidence in who I am. I've stood TALL among my peers. I've accomplished things.
It wasn't until N.J. Gov. James McGreevey (search) held his shocking national press conference that I began to have doubts about my true identity. Finally, the time has come. It is with great pride that I announce ... that I am a short American.
That's right. I'm about 5 feet 6-and-a-half-inches tall. I'll admit that sometimes when I'm conducting red carpet interviews with celebrities I wear boots that make me about 5-feet 8-inches tall. It makes my cameraman's job easier when it comes to framing the two-shot.
I know that this bombshell announcement will rock the Grrr! readership to its core, but alas, I had to do it.
Now, obviously I'm joking (not about being short, but about the "bombshell announcement"). But am I the only person Grrr'd about the use of the word "American" when people use it in a way to try to gain sympathy from society and deflect from the real issue? I am a gay American. I am a straight American. I am a black American. I am a white American. I am a short American. I am a whatever American.
The intent of the use of the word "American" is along the lines of "don't judge me poorly, because I, just like you, am an American."
Give me a break.
Does that mean convicts should come out of prison to announce they are "criminal Americans?" Will that make you feel better about renting them an apartment or hiring them for employment? Or how about "I am a terrorist American?" Taliban Johnny could have used that in his defense. Reality show contestants can be "reality Americans."
In the case of Gov. McGreevey, "I am a liar American" would have been more appropriate.
Imagine if he came out to say that he had been having an affair with a woman he hired to be New Jersey's homeland security chief — not because she was qualified, but because he was having an affair with her. He'd be vilified by women's groups. He'd be labeled a dirtbag adulterer — and a potentially corrupt one at that, something the New Jersey state attorney general is looking into.
Instead, he's a "gay American," thus implying he's dealing with something more than just being a dirtbag. Are we supposed to think "poor guy, must have been tortured living such a lie for so long?" Well yes, actually. It's what his focus groups told him we would feel before he made his "spontaneous" bombshell announcement.
Hey, better to come out as a "gay American" dealing with a burden than to be thought of as an adulterer who uses his power to award high-paying jobs to his lover — gay or straight.
Lame TV Interviews ... Grrr!
Do you ever wonder who writes those questions during those survivor type interviews?
You know the ones with the guys who were stranded out in the water for three days until the Coast Guard rescued them, or with the family that just lost their kid to a house fire.
"Well sir, how did you feel as you were floating in the water, not knowing if you'd ever be rescued?" Or, "How do you feel now that your 4-year-old is dead?"
The Olympics on NBC should have a segment with athletes called "Feelings, Whoa Whoa Whoa, Feelings!"
This way Bob Costas and company can ask questions like, "How did you feel when you won the gold?" "How did you feel not to win the gold?" and "How did you feel when your teammate hit her second home run?" And we viewers won't have to answer the question by shouting at the TV, "Gee Bob, I feel horrible about winning the gold!" or "Gee Bob, I feel great that I lost after years and years of hard work and sacrifice!"
Look, oftentimes anchors and hosts are the ones left stranded by tight-lipped interviewees, and they have to reach for something, anything, to keep the segment alive. But there at least needs to be some stock questions in the repertoire other than the "how did you feel" variety.
For those of you lucky enough to have watched the U.S. women's soccer gold medal match live on NBC, a really good example of HOW TO conduct an interview with athletes is the one conducted by Mark Morgan (search) directly following the U.S. women's dramatic win. Morgan was informative — he obviously follows the sport — and his familiarity made the women comfortable, and in so doing helped us viewers share in a great Olympic moment. No Grrr! there.
Now for Your Grrrs
Last week's column about Paul Hamm generated a tremendous response. Here are just a few of the e-mails. And another note to Hamm (just in case you ever read my Grrr! column): I'm sorry for jumping to conclusions regarding a "tarnished Gold" in last week's Grrr!
Check out Toby Dials' latest Grrr! cartoon in the photos section above for his take on the Hamm article.
Denise Arlington, Va.: Glad to see you changed your mind about Hamm keeping the gold, but in my mind there was never any doubt. The problem with subjective scoring is that it is done by HUMANS who are notoriously imperfect, judging other humans...need I say more? I wasn't surprised when [Tim] Daggett announced about the other flaws in the judge's scoring. It goes with the territory. I'm proud of Hamm for defending his gold and not letting a bunch of whiners take it away. Hamm would have been seen as a wimp to many if he had, reflecting poorly on the United States.
John P. in Wisconsin: Hopefully you'll have the guts to post this; but, I doubt it. Based on your line of reasoning, not only should Paul Hamm give up HIS gold medal, but so too every NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL team that ever won a championship after a referee call went their way. The only reason this is a "now-controversial victory," is because you and your ilk in the media have made it one. I'm sure that if it had gone the other way, you media scum would think that was just the breaks. But since it's an American, you have to make it into a big media event. Shame on you! If it wasn't for the United States of America there wouldn't be a South Korean gymnastic team; nor a French, Belgian, Dutch, British, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Czech, etc. team. Those three Afghani women on their team would be where without U.S.? Uda would be torturing which soccer team? Why don't you focus on that, instead of this crap?
— John, this is FOX News. Of course I have the guts to post it! That's what the "You Decide" part of our motto means.
Mike P in Oregon, Ill.: I still believe Hamm should relinquish the gold medal. The incorrect computation of a score is an objective error in a discreet discipline, and one not caught up in the heat of the moment. That is entirely different from a subjective judgment during a routine, from which Yang Tae-young apparently benefited, just as one team benefits from a blown call during a baseball game.
Gail Brenner in cyber-space: I am upset that Hamm, an accomplished athlete, is left to defend earning the gold medal, offended that "the official," whomever that was, says it would be up to Hamm to return the gold. The error was not his to explain nor his to fix. I think the judges should end this controversy once and for all with a public apology to Hamm hanging him out to dry for their error. I also feel they should publish the correct score with the all the errors corrected on the other athlete, then if need be, give the out another gold medal. We need to allow Hamm the satisfaction in his accomplishment. This controversy has put a shadow of doubt on all the medals in my opinion.
Jeff Corder in cyber-space: How about we have a time the decision is "final." It seems reasonable that the judges had time to recalculate their numbers (do they add them in their heads?), check numbers, make any corrections and announce the decision. It seems reasonable that they should be able to get all of this done by the time the national anthem is played. At that point, the decision is final (barring a revelation of cheating). If they allow protests to continue, it won't be long before they start bringing lawyers to the Olympics to help them appeal their cases when they lose.
Lee in cyber-space: Good for you for being big enough to change your mind and announce it publicly. Not many people would do it.
Dieter in Atlanta, Ga.: Mike, yesterday you responded to me with an answer that is unheard of from ANY reporter or journalist: You said you were wrong AND you corrected your stand. Kudos. That is what is needed from ALL public and private servants: the ability to a) Admit when you are wrong, and b) Acknowledge the corrected stance. I only wish that this method be used by all who err. Congrats.
Caroline Fansler in cyber-space: My Grrrr is for the interviewers at the Olympic Games who ask the silver or bronze medal winners: "How did it feel to lose the gold . . .?" Dammit, I'm sick and tired of them perpetuating the impression that if you didn't win the gold, you lost. How about congratulating them on winning the silver or the bronze and then asking them how it feels to be a winner? And some/most of those interviewers were former Olympic athletes who were once in the same shoes. You'd think that would make them more aware. Grrr!
—Caroline, my favorite quote from this summer: "Michael Phelps will have to settle for silver." Talk about a Grrr!
Caroline in Gig Harbor, Wash.: Glad to see you have had a change of heart. Awarding gold medals isn’t for gymnasts, it’s for judges and sometimes they get it right, sometimes they don’t. Team USA gymnasts should hold their heads high and be proud of all they were able to accomplish.
Lynn M. in Arkansas: Mike, in my opinion your original take on Paul Hamm holds true. It is still Hamm's choice at the end of all this "mess" to make this situation right. Regardless of how the judges handled this situation, Hamm knows better, and he should be a truer champion than one who takes a gold under suspect circumstance and refuses to even share the medal when he is crystal clear in his mind and heart that he did not perform better than his honorable opponent. If Hamm himself were incompetent I would say he is entitled to keep the gold forever. But Hamm's eyes are wide open on this issue and as such, he should turn the medal over and accept a lesser prize - and rightfully so.
DL in cyber-space: I can't think of a single sporting event where human error never occurs. Shouldn't the New York Giants get the win over the Niners in their playoff game when an obvious interference penalty wasn't called on their last-minute field goal try? It's out of Paul Hamm's control and he's handled the controversy well. Give him a break. Thanks.
Degera in cyber-space: With all of the ruckus over the judges' mistakes and Paul Hamm's performance, I keep waiting for someone to recall what happened in the Olympic games in Korea. In one of the semi-final matches in freestyle wrestling an American, Nate Carr, lost because of terrible refereeing. There was a protest, and after review the three refs were thrown out because they had botched their job so badly. But was the match changed? No way. Rules are rules. The American had to settle for the consolation round, and, by the way, won the bronze. Guess who won the silver, after benefiting from the botched refereeing? Yup, South Korea. How come they haven't pulled this up from their memory banks when talking about Paul Hamm?!
Virginia in Pittsburgh, Pa.: When I read your original column on Paul Hamm, I absolutely had to stop reading when you told him to give back his medal because I LOVE YOU (I'm happily married — so not "love you" as in obsessed with you and have your picture on my computer wallpaper, but "love you" as in "you rock") and I couldn't believe that we were so diametrically different in our opinion on this matter, and I didn't want to NOT love you, so I just stopped reading. Therefore, I am writing to tell you that YOU ROCK for being man enough to change your mind and then being an even bigger man to PRINT IT!
Capt. O'Grady of the USMC respectfully Grrrs: How about the U.S. Women's soccer team!!! Great job!!. Except, of course, for them allowing the U.S. flag to drag along the ground during their celebration afterwards. Are we as Americans so ignorant as to proper respect for our national symbol? A Grrr to the players who allowed our flag to touch the ground. Did they even bother to fold them correctly when they were done with them, or were they just tossed into a bag? Too many men and women are fighting for their country right now for its symbol to be disrespected.
Stupid Lit'l Dreamers
Congratulations to actor Jonathan Togo (search) for landing a part in "CSI: Miami." Togo will be playing Ryan Wolfe, a new character on the CBS show, after one of the main characters is killed off next season. Togo's best known for his role in Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River." Good luck, and have a good run!
Plus...a BIG SHOUT OUT to the gold medal winning U.S. Women's soccer team. You women are an inspiration! Look me up when you're making the media rounds. CONGRATULATIONS!
The Cutting Room Floor
Did you catch my Jenna Jameson (search) interview on FOX Magazine on Sunday night? If not, check it out by clicking the video tab above the Grrr! Comic strip above. The porn guy strikes again! Grrr!
Incidentally, I'm out this week, so I won't be reading any of your responses until after Labor Day.
Until Next Week ... Grrr!
Mike Straka is the Director of Operations and Special Projects and columnist for FOXNews.com and contributes as a features reporter and producer on "FOX Magazine." He was also in the movie "Analyze This," and has appeared in various commercials, theater and TV roles.