Broward News

The Inscrutable Crist

Sunday was a big day for Charlie Crist and Jim Davis stories. Both the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post had twin, front-pagep profiles on the gubernatorial candidates -- and all of them were interesting. One of the more interesting comparisons was the way the Herald and Post handled the gay question with Crist. Jane Musgrave, in a compelling read on the frontrunner, mentioned Crist's "impeccable manners" (they apparently came from his mother) and "longtime" bachelorhood. But this is as close as the Post got to the issue directly:

His 1979 marriage in Delray Beach to his college sweetheart lasted roughly six months. Court records show it ended amicably: He got the 1978 Grand Prix and she got the 1976 Pontiac LeMans.

His father, however, says the 1980 divorce affected his son deeply. He said Crist has been engaged three times since - twice to the same woman. Haunted by the divorce and busy with his career, his father said his son just never made it back down the aisle.

He is now reported to be dating Kathryn "Katie" Pemble, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Bank of St. Petersburg.

Crist is reticent to talk about his brief marriage to Amanda Morrow, whose parents lived in Delray Dunes.

"It didn't work out," he said simply.

He makes it clear that he isn't interested in harsh speculation about his personal life.

But, he insisted, it doesn't bother him.

"I just let it roll off," he said.

"Harsh speculation." The Herald's Noah Bierman was more frank. To wit:

After college, he married Delta Delta Delta sorority sister Amanda Morrow. Groomsman Mike Lusignan said the two were ''total opposites.'' The marriage lasted less than six months. Morrow has never spoken publicly about it and couldn't be reached for comment.

Crist did not remarry and has faced widespread speculation about his sexuality. He has said on several occasions that he is not gay.

He also faced one other awkward question about his personal life.

In 1989, Crist signed an affidavit agreeing to give up paternity rights to a child that a St. Petersburg woman claimed he had fathered. In the affidavit, Crist said he ''never consummated the act necessary.'' In an interview with reporters last month, he would not explain publicly why he agreed to sign the affidavit if he had not had sex with the woman, a Republican activist.

''I told the truth then, and I'm telling the truth now,'' he said. ''That's why. That's it.''

Bierman's story, like Musgrave's, is darn good. As for the stories on Davis, well, I didn't read them yet (might have had something to do with Andrew Marra's lede in the Post, where he quotes someone calling Davis "sterile-looking"). I'm starting to think that Crist, without some dramatic changes, really is going to walk away with this election.

After the jump: Wasserman on Foley, The Dolphins, A Fatal Bus Race and Other Words For Poop, Dung, and Waste

-- The esteemed Ed Wasserman, former Daily Business Review editor and current Knight professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University, weighs in on the media and Mark Foley in today's Miami Herald. He argues that the media's reticence to report on Foley's sexuality back in the day tripped them up when they missed the e-mail and IM scandal story. As usual, he's dead-on [though we may disagree on some of the finer points] and, considering the governor's race, it's a very topical issue right now.

-- There are a million things to write about after an NFL football game, especially one as interesting and exciting and ultimately crushing as the one the Dolphins had yesterday against the Jets. Maybe get into the head of Olindo Mare, the veteran kicker who blew a last-minute try to tie the game. Perhaps pick apart coach Nick Saban's coaching mistakes (one was not running the ball on third down before that kick to get a few more yards, call your timeout, and take a shot at the end zone). Recreate the magic of one of the best comebacks the Dolphins have had in years before that kick. Whatever. But Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard and the Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde both went back to the well: Middle linebacker Zach Thomas, who has become the voice of defeat for Miami during what seems like the last decade. Le Batard led:

"Zach Thomas was broken. Cracked like a windshield hit by a brick. Shattered like porcelain fallen from a shelf. ... ''Embarrassed,'' he began.

In more awkward and less expressive prose, Hyde opened in the same way:

You know what really hurt? When this miserable day ended for the Dolphins, a day where they often couldn't run and play football at the same time, Zach Thomas opened his heart and said, softly, "I'm embarrassed." He wiped blood off his cheek. "This is just embarrassing," he said.

Gives you an idea of the level of imagination going into local (oh hell, let's generalize: national) sportswriting these days. Hyde has always used Thomas as a crutch during these times; Le Betard had to go to Thomas because his old mainstay, Ricky Williams, is in Canada these days. The Palm Beach Post's Dave George, to his credit, focused on new QB Joey Harrington who had an interesting day. But the main story on the game, by Greg A. Bedard, was more of the same. His lede:

Wearing just a tight, sleeveless gray shirt and his uniform pants, Jason Taylor sat at his locker Sunday evening in the bowels of Giants Stadium.

Blood dripped off his left leg. His arms were folded as he stared in silence for several minutes.

... "It's gotten to the point that it's embarrassing ..." Taylor said.

Interchangeable writers and players. You can't make this stuff up.

-- The Lake County Sheriff, Chris Daniels Jr., was killed on his 47th birthday while racing buses. The occasion: The annual Battle of the Badges, a charity event for Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches.

-- Ana Menendez wrote Sunday about a show about shit opening at Miami's MetroZoo. You can read her column in the Miami Herald if you want to know about it. What I found quite amusing was this:

"Poop, dung, waste (the more evocative term hits too low for this paper's sensibilities) ..."

Let's help Ana with some "evocative" terms. We already used the most obvious one in the first line of this post. Crap isn't worth mentioning. Here are a few others that the Herald's sensibilities simply will not tolerate: turds, squat, stool, runs, scat (though the Herald did work the buck-fifty word "scatological" in the headline), butt nuggets, junk, pinched loaf, ass fudge, scheiss, kaken, stront, schijt, drek, ... okay I'm already drifting off into Yiddish and Flemish variations (which are suprisingly similar to each other and English versions). My work is done here.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman