THE BEN VIDEOS
Slow day on Pittsburgh Steelers news? Simply introduce heretofore unheard, unseen material from Milledgeville, Georgia, circa March 5, 2010, and the slow news day picks up speed.
The latest hubbub was spawned by the release of “The #7 DVDs.” You know, the ones where witnesses are questioned by the “Eat a Peach” investigative staff, whilst Ben is interviewed by a pair of Pittsburgh television news personalities, neither of whom is reportedly afraid to hoist a few in public venues (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Under the umbrella of “Who the Fuck Knows” what happened in Capital City, the objective observer would say that Ben got the better of his accuser and her sisterhood in this video war.
Should we be surprised though? Should the accuser, et al, sprinkling the word “like” by the dozen throughout their testimony be held against them? Should it make them any less credible? After all, they were simply using the vernacular of the 20-year-old, and Ben’s cavorting with this segment of the population forms the foundation of his Big Night Out in Milledgeville.
There’s been an outcry from the Pro-Benners, a group to which this writer subscribes, suggesting that Ben is now due an apology from the assorted media that was so quick to condemn him. Not so fast. The column of Post-Gazette columnist Ron Cook was used as an example of one who maintained his position even after hearing the rambling testimony of the accuser. Cook’s not guilty of being gutless (a term thrown around by the Pro-Benners), but merely of being a dunderhead. That Cook’s a dope, fortunate to have a job putting his thoughts to paper, or computer screen, is probably an assertion on which both Pro-Benners and Anti-Benners agree.
I do believe it’s the case that the details of the testimony, as originally transcribed were given short shrift by those inclined to condemn Ben. This was not only a local phenomenon but caught fire nationwide as well. I called into Boston’s WEEI, objecting to the use of “vermin” as a descriptor of #7, and when challenged on the details, related the improbability of a 6’5” quarterback having sexual intercourse with a woman seated on a toilet. In so doing, I was told, emphatically, to spare that sort of sordid detail on the public airways. Therein was part of the difficulty, however, a rush to judgment without familiarizing oneself with the relevant factual information and then closing one’s ears upon the presentation of the details.
Now, as for Ben’s contrition at the respective knees of KDKA’s Bob Pompeani and WTAE’s Sally Wiggin, I submit that this was Ben’s appeal to the “swing vote.” The Anti-Benners would not be swayed, and the Pro-Benners were solidly in his camp. It was the large segment of Pittsburghers, knowing they’ve little choice but to root for #7 to do his thing, but wanting to feel good about it… needing to “forgive” Ben, for whom this made-for-TV moment was orchestrated. C’mon….on his Mom & Dad’s farm, cast as somebody’s son, brother, grandson, nephew, that Ben Roethlisberger distanced himself from the Big Ben persona, and being infinitely more media-savvy than 20-year old college girls from Georgia, was able to convince a good portion of the viewing public that he was on his way to reformation. Why, even the dullard Ron Cook bought it.
Now, as for the issue of “blaming the media,” I’m long a proponent that one creates one’s own news, and then the media decides whether to cover the story, based largely on the market. That being the case, Ben clearly created the news. The media, to a large extent, reported the story factually. To the extent I have an issue with the media, it’s somewhat based on the creation of headlines, and it’s been long my understanding that respective writers have zero input to the headline, that some newspapermen apparently major in “Headline Creation” during their undergraduate years. The more significant beef, however, is the basis for the opinions of certain commentators. I have no issue with writers and talking heads maintaining that Ben’s a douchebag. In fact, I’ve written that Ben’s a dick. Is Ben a douchebag for having a night on the town in a college community? Maybe. Is Ben a douchebag for stiffing waiters, doormen, etc. Undoubtedly. Is Ben a douchebag for forcing himself on a 20-year-old? He would be, if only we knew it were true. Both Ben and his accuser have been been the target of unflattering opinion based on speculation.
Is the accuser a gold-digger? Don’t know. Is the accuser a slut? Don’t know. Why did her parents insist that they did not want this case to go forward? Not putting their daughter through more duress? Not wanting the publicity? Feeling as though they had no case? Who knows, who knows, and who knows.
I’ll be the first to admit that my take on this story is coloured by my Steeler fandom. Some want no part of an immoral cad quarterbacking their football team. I, on the other hand, want no part of a losing quarterback quarterbacking my football team. I’ll be cheering loud and long when Big Ben, err….Ben Roethlisberger throws his first touchdown pass of the season. My guess? So will most everyone else in Heinz Field, and in the various living rooms of Steeler Nation.