Sometimes I hate to be right.
For instance, in a recent blog post about Sheriff Joe Arpaio traveling to Los Angeles for a Hollywood screening of producer Randy Murray's documentary The Joe Show, I noted that Murray's idea of inviting Joe along for the ride was a bad one, unlikely to do more than stroke the sheriff's ego.
Fast-forward to Wednesday, when New York Times reporter Fernanda Santos, who for the past two years has been the paper's Phoenix bureau chief, tweeted a photo of herself with Arpaio, en route to Los Angeles.
— Fernanda Santos (@fernandaNYT) April 23, 2014
In the pic, Santos offers a duck face. Arpaio just looks confused.
"Traveling to Hollywood with Sheriff Joe Arpaio today," she wrote of the photo. "Looking tough."
To which, she hashtagged the words "Phoenix bureau" and "glamor."
(I have to believe she meant "#Glamor" sarcastically.)
Stacey Champion, doing PR for the film, tweeted, "@fernandaNYT is totally cracking me up. Her explanation of selfies to Sheriff Joe almost made me pee."
The high-jinks didn't stop there. Later, Santos tweeted pics of Arpaio with some of the costumed actors that work Hollywood Boulevard.
There's Arpaio being lassoed by Wonder Woman, Arpaio with Elmo and the Cookie Monster.
Champion Tweeted similar pics, but then, that's Champion's job, right?
— Fernanda Santos (@fernandaNYT) April 23, 2014
Santos' brief descent into journalistic inanity fits perfectly with the theme of The Joe Show, which accurately depicts how the media's mindless promotion of Joe's antics feeds his celebrity and distracts attention from his misdeeds in office, thus helping the scoundrel get re-elected every four years.
While still hobnobbing with Joe, in response to a commenter, Santos tweeted that Arpaio, "has gotten nothing but love so far," though she observed, "it's still early."
To this, I tweeted, "Looks like nothing but love from you, too, Fernanda."
"Oh, please," she replied.
What a difference a day makes.
I spoke with a chagrined Santos this morning, off the record. Though I cannot quote her, my impression is that she thinks better of her selfie with a corrupt politician.
Hopefully, whatever she writes about her day with Joe will overcome the mental aftertaste left by that duckface.
Certainly, Santos is not alone in being suckered into Arpaio's cult of personality.
I remember all the justifications the profs at ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism had when they played host to Arpaio back in 2009, at the zenith of his power.
That situation also devolved into a classic Arpaio sideshow.
Murray's film, which I've praised, is largely about the press' complicity in many of Arpaio's crimes.
"I have to say the media, in their own way, [have] created me," Arpaio remarks in the documentary. "They created me. You wanna say created a monster? To them, it probably is."
Having Arpaio pimp the screening was the first mistake. At least Murray has an understandable motivation, promoting his film and perhaps trying to recoup what he spent making it.
Not that it excuses this stunt in my eyes.
When it comes to journalists and their relations with Arpaio, well, all I can do is direct them to the wisdom of that great newspaperman and cynic H.L. Mencken.
"The only way a reporter should look at a politician is down," Mencken once said.
Keep that line in mind, news hounds, and you can never go wrong.
Update 4/24/14 5:55 p.m.: Santos has taken down her selfie with Joe. As I had embedded the Tweet, the photo disappeared from my blog when she took it down from her Twitter feed. So I've added a screenshot that I took yesterday, and left the original embed, which has her comments.
She also had double-posted a pic of Joe and Wonder Woman. She took one one down, left the other up. The one she took down happened to be the one I had embedded in my post, so it went away. Like with the selfie, I added a screenshot and left the embed up.
I did call Santos about this, but once again, what she said to me is off the record.
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