Yes, yes, there are news outlets that flagrantly hype a headline or story just to get clicks on their site. Mostly they are taken with a tabloid-size chunk of salt. But I was frankly startled to see this Mediaite headline today: “LA Mayor’s War With NBC Heats Up: MSNBC Anchor Confronts Him Over Charlie Sheen ‘Party Picture’.” Reporter Noah Rothman writes:
Los Angels Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s tense relationship with NBC News is quickly becoming openly hostile. Villaraigosa had harsh words for NBC reporters recently, saying that they and their network were “in that business of making people look bad.” Today, the Los Angeles mayor was confronted on MSNBC over his recent appearance with controversial actor Charlie Sheen. Villaraigosa became visibly agitated and dodged the question, but the episode revealed much about the evolving relationship between the news network and L.A.’s mayor.
Towards the end of an interview with MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts on immigration reform, Villaraigosa was asked about the “internet firestorm” that erupted when actor Charlie Sheen was tweeted out an image of him partying with Villaraigosa in Mexico over the holidays….
Sheen has courted controversy over the course of his career – being fired from his CBS sitcom over his drug abuse. Sheen also got into hot water over the holiday when he greeted the crowd at his hotel’s opening by exclaiming, “Lying bunch of faggot a**holes, how we doing?”
Now why have I seen more tweeting about Villaraigosa posing with party bad boy Charlie Sheen than about Sheen “greeting” people at this hotel by calling them “faggots”? This is way more interesting than the “war” about whether Villaraigosa merely bumped into Sheen at the hotel opening or had a nearly two hour conversation.
Villaraigosa told Roberts he wasn’t going to talk about that picture anymore. “The people watching your program don’t care about me or Charlie Sheen,” he said. To which Roberts replied: “I think that people do probably want to hear your part of that.” Why? We’re now taking this Sheen guy seriously – this drunk for whom “Lying bunch of faggot a**holes” slips so easily from his lips? Or perhaps Charlie did an “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” thing and any minute now Villaraigosa’s ego is going to go crazy wild on video and we won’t be able to look away.
Villaraigosa has grown somewhat accustomed to photogs and press types prying into his personal life after he cheated on his wife and had such a messy divorce. But other than prurient interest or some evidence that the single Villaraigosa’s romantic dalliances bear some weight on his ability to govern, what business is it of ours? For instance, Mediaite reported that Villaraigosa “was recently confronted by NBC reporters over the rumor that he had started dating actress Eva Longoria following his recent divorce.” Confronted – really? Is there any evidence of malfeasance here? And this is what started “the war:”
“You’re in that business of making people look bad, of creating some kind of caricature,” he told NBC reporters pointedly. “I’m not in that business.”
“I was on vacation,” Villaraigosa added. “I deserve a vacation.”
Now Sheehan is backtracking on “the mayor likes to party” tweet. Here’s his latest PR, via LA Observed:
“The mayor was visiting friends in San Jose del Cabo, who were at the opening of the El Ganzo hotel and bar where my share of the ownership is 100% committed to the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation,” Sheen said.
“Mayor Villaraigosa was gracious enough to take a photo with me while we are at the same event. The mayor spoke to many other people during the opening, as well as I did. I am a giant fan of the mayor’s, and apologize if any of my words have been misconstrued.”
The other earth-shattering incident that supposedly started this “war” was an appearance on KNBC with the highly regarded political reporter Conan Nolan who basically asked Villaraigosa – ‘What were you thinking?’ Villaraigosa said he takes pictures with everyone – which has been pretty much true since I’ve covered him.
Anyway – here’s the exchange. You be the judge. Does this look like the start of a “war” to you?