5 things I think I think about today’s Tampa Bay Times

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Before we dive into today’s political coverage, a tip of the hat to two apolitical articles.

The first is, as it has been so often, sports writer Tom Jones’ “Shooting from the lip” column. Other than Sports Illustrated’s Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback” feature, Jones’ wrap-up of the weekend that was in the world of sports is my favorite Monday morning read.

The second tip of the hat is to Eric Deggans’ wall-to-wall coverage of the Fall TV season. Deggans has columns here, here and here, including a guide to which shows are worth Ti-Voing. Deggans is usually right not only about which programs are “good”, but about about which ones are worth investing time.

While we’re on the topic of Deggans’ work, be sure to check out his insightful, nuanced argument about how “the gay characters network TV offer …  these days … is male, upper middle class and white.”

In a country where just 54 percent of respondents to a recent Gallup poll said gay relations were “morally acceptable,” it’s worth remembering that homosexual characters like those on Modern Family, New Normal and Partners are still groundbreaking images.

But they also may have created a bit of a straitjacket regarding the biggest roles for gay starring characters on television, where they are expected to be well-off, male and white, like the men who have created them.

Reading Deggans’ column, I am reminded of a very recent profile of Michael K. Williams, the very talented actor who portrayed “Omar” on HBO’s The Wire. Omar was shotgun-toting robber of drug dealers. He was also bullishly gay. Of course, HBO isn’t network TV, but it’s characters like Omar who would be really interesting to see more often.

Now, for politics.

But first, ask yourself how you spent your Friday night? Dinner and a movie? A quiet evening at home? Waiting patiently outside of the Governor’s mansion for Rick Scott to finish his dinner with representatives from the Florida Education Association?

It’s very likely that  you did not, in fact, stand watch outside of the Governor’s mansion, but several members of the Florida Capitol Press Corp did, including the Times‘ Tia Mitchell. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their vigilance.

Now, it’s really on to politics.

The Orlando Sentinel‘s Scott Maxwell has been an unmerciful, almost Javertian critic of Florida House Speaker Chris Dorworth. Somehow, Maxwell has taken over the body of the Tampa Bay Times‘ Steve Bousquet, who regurgitates much of the already-digested criticisms of Dorworth.

Yes, Dorworth is going through a divorce. Yes, his house has been foreclosed on. Yes, he has had a rough couple of years. But what does Maxwell-Bousquet want him to do?

As blogger Sarah Rumpf once asked, what are these reporters’ problems? That Dorworth didn’t curl up in a ditch and die after one unprofitable year? That he dared to get back out there, search for projects worth investing in, and do his best to make them successful? Quelle horreur!

I just can’t stomach the tone of Bousquet’s article. It reads like an indictment of the entire political system. For example, he writes “Super-sized campaign contributions allow Dorworth to employ a travel aide, campaign strategist, fundraising consultant and media adviser. It’s all legal.”

See how he does that.? By adding the “It’s all legal” qualifier, Bousquet makes it sound like spending contributions on a travel aide or a media adviser could have been considered illegal.

As Republican operative Brian Hughes tweeted, an alternative headline to this story could be, “State Rep. Follows All Election Laws” but that wouldn’t have fit in the Times‘ worldview.

Speaking of the Times‘ worldview, I wondered this morning whether the newspaper will still endorse Democrat Janet Long after her very controversial comments about firefighters taking advantage of 9/11 for their own political gain.

Will the Times all but waste the power of its endorsement by backing Long in the face of overwhelming, cross-partisan opposition?

Or will the Times endorsement, in enough voters’ minds, absolve Long of her sins?

It’s very doubtful the editorial board will endorse Republican Neil Brickfield, but in light of Long’s comments, shouldn’t it be considering not recommending either candidate?

That’s the plan of action I would endorse.

By the way, I’m surprised Long was only a co-Loser of the Week in Florida Politics, according to Adam Smith. She shared the title with U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack, who has been recently dogged by bad poll numbers. But Mack has been dogged by bad poll numbers before. Long’s comments were so offensive, she deserved the dishonor of this recognition all by herself.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.