First Condoms, Then The House

Slow day at the Pulp, so I thought I'd unleash a dose of Malcolm English on you. I don't know who Malcolm English is, but I suspect that (s)he is a Sun-Sentinel writer. It's certain that (s)he has a major grudge against the Palm Beach Post. But that's what I love about the Palm Beach County right now. Everybody knows there's a turf battle going on there between the Sentinel and Post. What some don't know, though, is that a lot of the rival reporters really seem to dislike each other. Intensely. This isn't a Michael Jordan/Charles Barkley love fest. It's more in the James Posey/Kirk Heinrich mold.

I get snippets from both sides on a regular basis. Most recently, a Palm Beach Post writer wrote that the Sentinel "keeps hiring cheap labor for Palm Beach County, and they get scooped day in and day out." Malcolm English is on the other side. And here's Malcolm's most recent rant, which he sent me last week.

Does the Palm Beach Post have editors anymore?

Their choice of "real people" to illustrate the plight of those who are struggling to pay insurance premiums (Sunday) and find an affordable home (Wednesday) would be laughable if wasn't so abysmal and myopic.

[Last] Sunday, Post readers were treated to the misery being suffered by a northern Palm Beach County couple struggling to pay their $2,657 insurance bill. Read a little more, and you find out they live in PGA National. Yes, THAT PGA Nation. And, in the photo, isn't that a granite countertop they're leaning on. And, in a true measure of distress in Palm Beach County, we learn that insurance costs had forced the couple had to give up plans for a vacation in Key West. Oh, the pain!

The same story goes on to quote the "plight" of a retired NASA engineer bemoaning the cost of insurance for his home in tony Andros Isle near West Palm Beach. Oh, that would be the guy's SECOND home, the one he uses when he's not living on the Chesapeake Bay. Oh, the pain!

And the Post caps its story with a pair of doctors whining about the insurance on their $1 million-plus Juno Beach home. Oh, the pain!

The real pain ought to be inflicted on Post editors or reporter Mark Schwed for allowing such horrible examples into print.

Get that? "Real pain" should be inflicted on Post employees. That's beyond mere dislike or annoyance. That's hate. I get Malcolm's point. Schwed's piece does seem a little forced and it's not easy to whip up too much sympathy for people who are doing pretty good in this world. At the same time though it's a story that a lot of middle-class people are going to read with interest. Malcolm then goes after the next target:

Then ... we get Alan Gomez's front-page treatment about the misery of a mom who can't afford a house in Palm Beach County. And we learn that she's a $31,000-a-year cook at the Olive Garden. But wait! There's seven of her kids in the photo, ages 3 to 13. I'd wager that most people anywhere in the country would struggle to buy a home while supporting seven kids.

Maybe the Post editors are out to lunch on these kinds of issues. And, by that, I mean a Clematis Street bistro -- not a greasy spoon in Greenacres. It's amusing that, in their lame quest for "real people", no one stopped to consider the examples being trotted out by the Post.

Malcolm English Deerfield Beach, FL

I have to side with Malcolm on this one. The SEVEN kids might pose just a little financial challenge for a single mom on a $31,000 salary. It's a case where a small investment in condoms might have paved the way for that house. The beauty of all this, though, is that these things would slip through the radar if not for the cut-throat competition in PBC. I just hope they keep fighting.

The Pullshitzers And speaking of fighting, check out Edward Wasserman's commentary on the Pulitzer Prizes in yesterday's Herald (just posted on Romenesko). I think Ed nailed this one and the best evidence that he's right: Thomas L. Friedman has won TWO of the damn things. And Nicholas Kristoff's prize this year seemed to have been cooked up in a lab. Let's see, the sway and cache of the Times combined with the horrors of Darfur. How could they lose!

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