Taking a bite out of scandal

Admittedly, my television viewing habits aren’t strictly PBS with its nature shows and public policy discussions, and I don’t immediately get defensive when someone brags about not even owning a TV, but I do have my lapses into mindless mush.

In my defense, I draw the line at anything with a Kardashian in it, or those other annoying people, Ice and Coco, not to mention the crew on the Jersey Shore, but the previews a few weeks back for ABC’s new show, “Scandal,” has me clearing my schedule for 10 p.m. every Thursday. As one TV critic put it, the show is like eating a bag of chips.

Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope, head of a Washington, D.C., crisis management firm that finds solutions for wayward big shots, rocking a pantsuit like Hillary Clinton never did. With a take-no-prisoners attitude and a burning stare when she doesn’t get the answers she wants, Olivia nonetheless has a romantic side — she was recently the president’s mistress.

The character is loosely based on Judy Smith, former Bush White House deputy press secretary who also runs a PR firm and handled such clients as Michael Vick and the family of Monica Lewinsky. Recently Smith was a guest on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” discussing her book, “Good Self, Bad Self: Transforming Your Worst Qualities Into Your Biggest Assets.” The overriding takeaway I gleaned from her appearance was basically: tell the truth, people are going to find out about it anyway.

That reminded me of a former sheriff in my county back when I was a reporter. He was besieged with a string of embarrassing incidents, including a motorist having a diabetic reaction who was manhandled by a deputy. The lawman wrongly assumed the guy was intoxicated and just being a jerk. Off the record, the sheriff shook his head and said that if you know you’re going to have to eat crow (only the dish he mentioned was much nastier than crow) do it quickly and make sure it’s a big bite.

That’s sort of like the advice a PR expert quoted in The Washington Post gave for a recent flap involving British royal in-law Pippa Middleton who was jetsetting in Paris and had her photo snapped with her date who was pointing a pistol at the lens of the paparazzi. Unless she wants to look all bad-girl gangsta, she needs to get her story out fast, the flack said.

To be sure, the writers of “Scandal” won’t be running out of story plots anytime soon, not with the GSA throwing swank taxpayer funded Los Vegas parties with mind-readers for entertainment and expensive artisan cheese trays, while the Secret Service acts like college kids on spring break. And, lest we forget, a third scandal, the one involving John Edwards and payments made to his mistress and mother of his child, is cranking up in the courtroom.

In a few short weeks the G-8 Summit will be coming to nearby Camp David and who knows what shenanigans the Germans, French, et al. will get themselves into. It’s just nice to know that if “Scandal” becomes a little too tame, you just have to click to CNN for a fix of bad deeds.


— Nancy Luse is a free lance writer in Frederick, Md.

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