1. Monday, September 16, 2002

    i grew up in chicago, my favorite paper was the Tribune, 

    for most of my life i remember Bob Greene as the nostalgiac-infested milquetoasty columnist for the Trib, and not surprisingly i never liked him as a writer.

    until saturday.

    saturday squeaky-clean bob green, so much a goody-two-shoes that he makes the narrator of The Wonder Years sound like Marilyn Manson, handed in his resignation to the Tribune after an anonymous email (that did not mention Greene’s name) led management to believe that the columnist had an “inappropriate” sexual relationship with a teen girl of legal consentable age several years ago.

    bob greene, who makes bob costas look like ozzy osbourne, allegedly met the girl while doing a story, took her out to dinner, and engaged in sex, the Trib reports today. everything was cool until the woman tried to reach greene twice this year, according to the Trib, who in retaliation sicked the FBI on her!

    that prompted the email, most would suggest, which prompted the investigation by Trib Corp’s HR dept. and the Trib’s managing editor, and very quickly Greene’s resignation.

    but my question is, what are they not telling us?

    since when is a columnist having sex with a barely legal girl reason enough to step down from a artistically mediocre but wildly successful syndicated career that included reporting for “Nightline,” “Oprah,” and AP? didnt our last President have sex with a young woman of legal age and got to still be President? is writing for the Tempo section of the Trib a more honorable and refined profession applicable only to the highest echelon of chicago society– or at least those without sin?

    Greene was, ironically, hailed for several columns and a series that he wrote for the Trib denouncing child abuse which made him a great guest for Oprah whenever she wanted to talk about tortured and exploited children or child abuse. With a gigantic career based upon an aw-shucks tone of blue collar tales of midwestern values, couldn’t one little fling many years ago get absolved after a teary apology and a heartfelt acceptance by his huge, loyal, forgiving following?

    or was it more than just a little fling?

    i smell something curious in chicago.

    so we head over to the Tribune’s arch-rivals, the Murdoch-owned Sun-Times, who today reports that Greene’s 1984 book “Good Morning, Merry Sunshine,” about his daughter’s first year was released to the surprise of many of his colleagues who, the Sun-Times claims, didn’t know he was married or a father. say what?

    equally mysterious comes from the NYT which writes, “The dismissal of a journalist for personal conduct, as opposed to professional lapses, is uncommon,” and they include a snippet from the Tribune spokesperson, who suddenly doesn’t want to speak.

    “Gary Weitman, a spokesman for the Tribune Company, which publishes the newspaper, said yesterday: ‘We’re not going to say anything more than what the statement is. He is no longer an employee,'” reports the paper of record.

    some spokesman.

    my favorite quote from this midwestern meltdown comes from my favorite shock jock, steve dahl, who paved the way for howard stern so smoothly that dahl is the only active dj who stern doesn’t diss.

    from the Sun-Time: “Popular radio host Steve Dahl, who, with Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg, made comic fodder of Greene’s often-sentimental columns in a weekly ‘Bob Greene Watch’ segment on WCKG-FM (105.9), said he was surprised by Sunday’s announcement.

    ” ‘I always thought he’d get fired just for being a bad columnist,’ Dahl said.”

    Exactly. But now Greene is suddenly interesting. His resignation has left those at Romenesko’s letters section scratching their heads and me wondering why Murdoch hasn’t scooped up this good-boy gone bad.

    The main reason i disliked Greene was because he always seemed so sticky sweet and fake writing about the wonderfulness of this checker game in the park, with this story about a woman who has made americana bunting for 35 years. Greene is a guy who went on the road with Alice Cooper in ’75, why would he bore us with middle of the road snooze fodder despite walking the same halls with the dean of chicago columnists Mike Royko? hadnt he learned anything?

    well now i want Greene to come clean. i want him to show the world that he is a writer. writers cover both sides of the human experience, good and bad, and columnists are given the wonderful benefit of including their own personalities into their narrative. warts and all. Finally Opie has a wart, a huge one, apparently, and i want to see it.

    Squeeze that mother and tell us all about it, bob greene, just like your forefathers would have done, just like you probably are dying to do, just like everyone wants you to.

    finally you have found something worthwhile to write about.

    you think a middle aged man getting all worked up over a 18 or 19 year old girl isnt something that happens from time to time in the midwest? you dont think that the guilt that must have followed this veteran writer wasnt unbelievable? you dont think theres any modern day drama that includes phone calls and emails from the young woman which culminates in the FBI and an anonymous email to the tribune’s website tip line?

    bob, if you dont write this down and submit it right now, then you really dont know much about what is newsworthy or interesting, or timely and my man steve dahl is right, you probably should have been fired a long time ago.

    i know it might be embarrassing. but that never stopped you from writing all those bad columns and appearing on oprah.

    {update: Instapundit, who is always on top of these things, has a link to Boomer-bashing column about this matter. Scalzi also agrees with me that Greene talents were minimal, and adds that the writer “telegraphed” his daliance in a novel he wrote about several men leaving their families to hit the road and find themselves… and hot babes.