On Fox News Sunday this morning, anchor Brit Hume dispensed some advice to embattled golfer Tiger Woods that’s sure to touch off a firestorm of controversy, suggesting that Woods would be better off forsaking Buddhism for the more “redemptive” and “forgiving” Christianity. Was Hume out of line, or was he just being a good friend to Tiger?
Here’s the clip, which is already the hottest thing on Twitter:
Transcript: (emphasis mine)
Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person, I think is a very open question, and it’s a tragic situation with him. He’s lost his family, it’s not clear to me whether he’ll be able to have a relationship with his children, but the Tiger Woods that emerges once the news value dies out of this scandal, the extgent to which he can recover, it seems to me, depends on his faith. He’s said to be a Buddhist, I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith, so my message to Tiger would be “Tiger, turn to the Christian faith, and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.
Good for Hume, I say. I’ve been wanting to tell Tiger to try agnosticism, but I just wasn’t sure.
I was going to suggest nihilism, but I didn’t really believe it.
On its face, Hume’s remarks do seem to suggest that Christianity is superior to Buddhism, and the idea that someone should abandon their own faith for yours does reek of arrogance. Those who are offended by Hume’s remarks aren’t out in left field somewhere. As I asked Adam Baldwin, whose Twitter feed first alerted me to the clip, “Would you applaud if someone advised John Ensign or Mark Sanford to ditch Christianity?”
I don’t know Baldwin well enough to know how he would respond, but I’d lay good money that even casual Christians would be offended by such a proposition. It’s one thing to extoll the virtues of your own faith, but quite another to denigrate someone else’s.
If you look at the context of Hume’s remarks, it seems that he views religion as a menu comparison. Sure, Buddhism’s great for achieving inner peace, but Christianity’s got that redemption thing to fall back on. Hume’s advice doesn’t hinge on the relative truth of either religion, but rather the services it can offer a horndog golfer.
What I find comical about Hume’s entreaty is the notion that Buddhism is the problem, and not Tiger’s flawed humanity. If Tiger had been practicing Buddhism, he wouldn’t have wanted all that sex in the first place.
Did Beyoncé perform on New Year’s Eve for the family of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi?
The mega-star and her mega-star husband, Jay-Z, are confirmed to have spent their New Year’s holiday in St. Barth thanks to numerous sightings, tweets/twitpics and paparazziphotographs over the last few days of 2009. The UK’s Daily Mail ran pictures of Beyoncé, including the one above, performing at the exclusive Nikki Beach club, as well as after in a group that included her husband Jay-Z, Usher, and Jon Bon Jovi (Usher did the countdown to New Year’s). Confirmations of a show-stopping New Year’s Eve performance came via Twitter as well, from Asylum Records CEO Todd Moscowitz and Swedish supermodel Victoria Silvstedt, who also snapped a picture.
Saif Gaddafi has hosted a swank New Year’s Eve party on Nikki Beach for the past few years, according to sources familiar with the St. Barth’s social scene, including last year’s event headlined by Carey, where Jay-Z also performed and Beyoncé was also in attendance. Though there were reports that he himself was in New Zealand through the New Year, the party seemed to go on as scheduled, according to this tweet from DJ Sam Young:
(The other big New Year’s Eve party on St. Barth was thrown by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.)
So was Gaddafi there? An article by Brazilian celebrity/gossip columnist Vivi Mascaro, in Portuguese, reported on the event, mentioning “Kadafi” and noting that Lindsay Lohan, George Michael and Microsoft founder Paul Allen were also in attendance. (Moscowitz also noted Lohan “melting down and dropping numerous f** bombs on the promoter.”) According to Mascaro, 300 people were at the party, drinking magnums of Champagne and seated at tables that each cost a cool $12,000. (According to a source who was there, reservations were required in advance and it was pay-your-own-way, but the question remains about who paid for Beyonce. An email to Nikki Beach asking for clarification has not been returned). Beyoncé, for her part, reportedly sang the five songs mandated by her contract, previously reported by Mascaro — and, according to iPhone translator, “leaving the audience vip blown away with her curves and booty nearly albums.” (Audience video here and here.)
Reports are now emerging — unconfirmed — that Beyoncé doubled Carey’s last-year take with a cool $2 million for the performance. Influential urban blogger Necole Bitchie wrote “I am hearing they were at a party for Libyan dictator Moammar Khadafy’s son and Beyonce was reportedly paid 2 million to perform.” UK celebrity and entertainment columnist Dean Piper wrote in the Daily Mirror about the Abramovitch party, noting “[m]eanwhile at another party at nearby Nikki Beach, Beyonce Knowles (watched by husband Jay-Z) was being paid a rumoured six-figure sum by none other than the family of Libyan dictator Col Gaddafi!” Emails and a phone call to Beyonce’s publicist have not been returned.
So: Why does this matter? Well, as respectable as Saif Gaddafi is with his charitable endeavors, pedigreed friends and PhD studies, his father is not exactly Mr. Popular — especially after his super-crazy speech at the U.N. in September. Gaddafi’s Libya has long been seen as a foe by the U.S., particularly in the 80s when Gaddafi was held to have been a major sponsor of international terrorism, and directly responsible for ordering the 1986 bombing of a Berlin nightclub which killed two U.S. marines — for which President Ronald Reagan ordered airstrikes on military targets in Tripoli, including the Gaddafi compound, where Gaddafi’s baby adopted daughter Hannah was killed. Gaddafi was also thought to have been a sponsor of Black September, which perpetrated the ‘Munich Massacre’ at the 1972 Olympics — and, of course, there was Pan Am 103. The shorthand for the flight is Lockerbie, from the town in Scotland where the it fell, but the flight was en route from Heathrow to JFK. Of the 243 passengers and 16 crew members killed in that bombing — plus 11 people on the ground — 190 were Americans, including many students returning home from studying abroad. Don’t read the “Victims” section of the Pan Am 103 Wikipedia page if you don’t want to choke up. It’s tough reading.
So: should Beyoncé care about any of this? Shouldn’t she be entitled to play a fun show in a glamorous locale with her husband and friends? The U.S. no longer has sanctions against Gaddafi, after all. Should it fall to Beyoncé to uphold a higher standard? Or, in the wake of the Pan Am bomber release — and the scary terrorism near-miss of Northwest 253 on Christmas — is the timing just a little off? (And more bad timing: Gaddafi’s brother, Moutassim Gaddafi, known as Hannibal, was reportedly involved in a violent domestic dispute with his wife in London last week.)
It’s early yet — as I said this story is still unconfirmed, and just starting to trickle out — but there are signs of backlash on Twitter (@DarlingJadey: “Beyonce performed for Gaddafi’s son. She needs help ASAP.” @LolaCheri: “no but seriously tho why is bey performing for a Libyan dictator neway? &last yr they booked mariah? how U doin Moatessem al-Gaddafi? baha!” @MomVsWild “WTF!Is this true,was Beyonce per4ming 4 the Gaddafi Family last night?Did she 4get about the Lockerbie Bombing & 200+ ppl died?”) This may be unfairly singling out Beyoncé for something that Carey and her own husband did just last year, within a rarefied group of high-powered people for whom it’s clearly not an issue. But still — she’s an all-American superstar with multiple endorsement deals across the board, who just recorded a version of “Proud To Be An American” — and the Gaddafis are a family with a pretty chequered history. A $2 million payday is pretty sweet, but depending on who paid it, it may leave a bitter aftertaste.
Translation of Portuguese article by Vivi Mascaro above, translated by Maisa Fonseca:
New Year’s eve in St. Barths: Beyoncé’s show and Lindsay Lohan in the audience in a party at Nikki Beach
Beyoncé and Usher’s performances. Only three hundred people, like the Libyan Kadafi and Linday Lohan. Magnum Champagne. In short, that was the New Year’s eve party at Nikki Beach, in St. Barths, one of the most exclusive parties in the planet.
Who attended the party had to pay the minimum amount of US$ 12 thousand each table, which didn’t scare away names like George Michael, Nizan Guanaes and Paul Allen, one of Microsoft’s founders.
As the blog said before, Beyoncé fulfilled her contract: sang only five songs, leaving the audience speechless with her curves and her near-Brazilian sway. The Brazilian stylist Márcio Vicentini got excited and went to the stage to dance with the singers. Her husband Jay-Z was also there.
(Translation notes: Mascaro used the expression ‘rebolado quase tupiniquim’ to describe part of Beyonce’s performance. ‘Rebolado’ is the hip/butt circular/side to side movements that compose a lot of dances, including Samba. ‘Tupiniquim’ is an adjective we use to describe native Brazilian things. The journalist was saying her moves could be almost considered Brazilian-like.)
….and for fun, from Google translation:
Show of Beyoncé and Usher. But 300 people, as the Lybian Kadafi and Lindsay Lohan. Magnum champagne. In summary, this was the party of réveillon of the Nikki Beach, in St. Barths, one of most exclusive of the planet. Who participated had to spend the minimum amount of US$ 12 a thousand for table, what it did not drive away names as George Michael, Nizan Guanaes and Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft. As blog already had in advance, Beyoncé fulfilled the contract: it sang only five musics, leaving the auditorium vip embasbacada with its curves and rebolado almost brazilian. Stylist Brazilian Marcio Vicentini if empolgou and went up in palco to dance with the singer. The husband of it, Jay Z, also was there.
Video from the audience at Nikki Beach (warning, TERRIBLE audio. Combined from here and here):
Big news for fans of Ultimate Fighting — tonight’t epic showdown-throwdown kicked off the New Year, pitting former world champ ‘Suga’ Rashad Evans against Brazilian challenger Thiago Silva. The UFC website called it “a grudge match of epic proportions” — and if you didn’t happen to be there live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, you could watch it on your computer via livestream through Justin TV and Sopcast. This is the future of event television.
So who won? Evans, in a unanimous decision by the judges. Well is is the former World Champ. But it was close: 29-28 across the board. The “grudge match” part was two fold, since Evans owed Silva for besting the former’s teammate, Keith Jardine, and both having been defeated by light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. Evans hung on to his edge, despite an impressive third round rally from Silva. SI.com’s Josh Gross has a detailed analysis of the match, which he called “one of the year’s best” which is amusing since it’s January 2nd (well, he said it would “be remembered as one of the year’s best,” but that doesn’t change he calendar. How’s this for playing it safe: “full-year’s worth of fights may leave UFC 108 behind, but for now it seems destined to be at least mentioned among 2010’s most fun.” Again, it’s JANUARY 2nd PEOPLE. I bet tomorrow’s gonna be one of the best Sundays of 2010, at least until another Sunday happens that’s also good.
The trending “UFC” based topics on Twitter and Google Zeitgeist suggest that the event was well-noted in addition to being one of the best of the year &dmash; so many ways to make your appointment with that kind of television, and then so many ways to have that water-cooler conversation. It’s just another reminder of how the web is bringing niche audiences to the fore with a vengeance — “UFC 108″ already has its own (very detailed) Wikipedia page. Saturday night pay-per-view fights have always been about a certain kind of viewer, and obviously there are lots of them or the system wouldn’t work. It used to be that those results would be confined to the sports section, or ESPN or neatly in their niches. Now, a strong and vocal and enthusiastic niche audience can push a topic out into the consciousness of the mainstream. We saw this, too, with Ronna & Beverly and Tim Tebow. The explosion of niche media means that events like this blow up in the mainstream, hot and bright, at least for quick bursts. Someone smart at UFC realized that, and showed the pay-per-view part on livestream, allowing all that free social PR to potentially breed new fans. It’s an interesting interaction between the “pay” and “free” model. We’ll be seeing more of that in the next year.
And on the second day of the New Yecade, we have another reason for celebration: PALINDROME DAY! Yes, today is January 2, 2010 — or, in the convention of U.S. nomenclature, 01022010. (Librarians, at ease.)
Twitter is blowing up with festive wishes for a Happy Palindrome Day as well as festive #in2010 New Year’s resolutions, but then again it’s also blowing up with festive what-I-want-to-do-to-Justin Bieber wishes, so who knows. Carry on.
Tomorrow, incidentally, we will have another fun 2010 day to celebrate: the first Sunday of the New Yecade! Which means the first Sunday shows of the New Yecade! Actually, they should be pretty interesting, considering the rather active last week of terrorism-related feel-good news reports. We’ll see.
I started out this year wondering if the white-hot intensity of the 2008 campaign could be even partially sustained, a daunting question for a $10-a-post blogger trying to hustle his way into a career in journalism. I’m ending it as a White House reporter and political correspondent for two national online publications, well on my way to going from Pinocchio to real boy. Along the way, I learned some lessons and saw some things that I’d like to share with you. This isn’t a roundup of the (Best/Worst/Most) of 2009, but rather a peek behind the curtain.
My story starts in the middle of the year. It was mid-June, and I had just gone through a well-publicized breakup with Politics Daily. I was sitting in the front row of the White House press briefing room, tapping away on my laptop before the briefing, when Lynn Sweet approached me.
Lynn had been my stablemate at Politics Daily, and we had only met for the first time a few weeks earlier. During that initial meeting, she talked to me for almost an hour, dispensing frequent “razz the new guy” barbs and journalistic lessons learned. I considered it a profound honor to have my chops busted by a legend like Lynn Sweet, whose work I had enjoyed so much during the campaign. If someone has to tell you “Go cover City Hall, kid,” you could do a lot worse.
Now, I was a guy without a job, in a field in which there were no jobs. If I had been in over my head with Politics Daily, I was positively drowning now. With no day job to fall back on, I was covering the White House for my own revenue-free website. It was an extraordinarily stupid leap of faith, one which I made shakily.
Consequently, I was a little bit flummoxed when Lynn asked me “Who are you here with now, Tommy?”
I stammered a little. “Well, um, DailyDose.us, I’m here covering the briefing for m-my own website.”
She seemed taken aback. “And they still let you in?”
At the time, the remark stung, as I was certain she was trying to rub my nose in it. Upon further reflection, though, the sting was the result of self-doubt. Who could blame Lynn for being surprised? But as I sat there fuming, I did that thing where you think of what you should have said after the person has walked away. Politics Daily hadn’t gotten me into the White House, I had gotten Politics Daily into the White House.
Whatever I felt about the job I was doing, or whether I felt like I belonged, I was there. If I was a fool to stay, I’d have been a bigger fool not to.
Even if you don’t know about college football, by today, at least, you’ve heard of Tim Tebow, the wunderkind quarterback of the Florida Gators who played his last college football game tonight. Tebow has what the New York Times calls “cartoonish statistics” and is a thrice-nominated Heisman trophy winner (the first sophomore to receive it), was the first NCAA player to rush and pass for 20 touchdowns in a single season, has won all sorts of awards and championships, and, tonight, was the 2010 Sugar Bowl MVP.
533 total yards — a BCS bowl record — including 31/35 passing for 482 yards, with 3 TDs and 0 INTs, plus 51 yards rushing and a TD in a 51-24 dismantling of (then-)No. 3 Cincinnati.
It was a record-smashing, virtually perfect performance — beyond playing for a national title, it is hard to think of a better game for Tim Tebow to end his career on.
Tebow will no doubt be the the subject of many sports stories in the coming weeks as his post-college future in the NFL is determined. But that’s not why I’m writing about him now. Sure, he’s a good football player, but more than that: Tim Tebow is media magic.
I learned that today when I noticed “Ephesians 2:8-10” popping up all over Twitter (which is a very godless place). Does that have anything to do with football? Yes, insofar as that was Tebow’s Bible verse of choice for this game, printed on his face in his eye-black. Turns out he chooses a Bible verse to highlight every week, using his face as a billboard so that while he’s rushing toward the end zone his fans will be inspired to rush to their King James for a little reacquainting. Apparently it works: Donna Diegel at the Examiner notes that “during and after every game, Google and Twitter light up and go viral” and cites NOLA.com in noting that John 3:16 resulted in 93 million Google hits. Clearly, they’re listening (and judging from Tebow’s record, so, it seems, is God.)
What will be interesting going forward will not only be where he lands NFL-wise, but what kind of endorsement deals he pulls. Because for the course of his career, Tim Tebow has endorsed the Bible — and the return on that endorsement has been off the charts. What will happen when Tebow endorses, say, Gatorade? He is a proven commodity. Whatever he thinks his price is, double it.
(He also identified new and valuable billboard space on the human body. Someone’s gonna take that and run with it, however awkwardly and cheesily.)
Tim Tebow can play football, but man can he play the Internet. And clearly, he plays to win. Maybe we should all take a lesson from under his eyes: “For by grace are ye saved through faith…”
Today is a quiet day in the Twitter news cycle, with the Rose Bowl and the Outback Bowl and various other bowl games on TV along with hockey legends Bobby Orr and Bobby Clarke at the NHL Winter Classic, and reminiscences about #10yearsago and post-NYE nuggets about J.Lo and Kathy Griffin making the rounds. But I just came across a jarring tweet from new media entrepreneur and investor John Borthwick:
I went over to bitly.tv and these were two of a number of #IranElection-themed videos — unverifiable — but sadly timed to Sunday’s flare-up again of protests in Iran against the oppressive regime, and the crackdown of those protests in a sad and scary echo of last June (but at the worst possible time for the West’s attention span in the middle of the holidays). Borthwick’s observation about CNN notwithstanding, the #IranElection tag continues to stay strong on Twitter (649 new tweets in the last 5 or so minutes), including from influential tweeters like Alyssa Milano with 546,188 followers.
This next video is one that has been seen already across the web and TV the past week (including CNN), of a car backing up over a protestor (hard to watch, be warned). After that is a video called “Iran Interviews That Will Never Air” (there is a translation, as well as debate about the videos authenticity, in the comments). Both are reminders that a lot of what happened in 2009 will still echo on into 2010, both for good and ill. That is especially apparent in the unfolding story of #IranElection. Hopefully in 2010 the good will start to weigh out. Until then, what can you do but pay attention? See below.