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Media bullsh*t death match! 

The tournament of hot air and hype

Fans of overhyped news stories and publicity overkill have been treated to a virtual overdose of media drivel lately. But which recent story was the most hyped-to-the-gills, bullshit news item? It's time to find out. We held a tournament featuring four worthy stories competing in various B.S. categories, and finally emerged with one winner. Here's how it went:


First Match: Madam Sallie Saxon! vs. Death From the Skies!

Madam Sallie's List

The Hype: High-end madam in Charlotte! Five hundred local bigshots rut with call girls! Up to $700 per hour! Client list may be released! Could be the end of Charlotte bigshotdom as we know it!

Big F-in' Deal: So rich men bought expensive prostitutes' services. WOW! What a shock! And to think we believed their money made them saints.

Benefit: Could wake up anyone still dreaming of Charlotte as a fortress of erect -- hmm, maybe that's not the right word -- virtuous Presbyterianism.

Titillation, Shame or Fear Factor: 9 of 10.

Bullshit Factor: 8 of 10.

Dangerous Satellite Blasted

The Hype: Dead spy satellite falling to earth! Big as a bus! Toxic fuel on board! Anti-missile missile actually worked! Blew that sucker right out of the sky!

Big F-in' Deal: Satellites this big fall to earth all the time and have never hurt anyone because they largely break up before reaching the ground. The "toxic" fuel? According to the Marines' top general, you have to "stay very close to it and inhale a lot of it" for it to be deadly. Looks like the Pentagon just wanted to show China, which shot down a defunct weather satellite in 2007, that we could blow up satellites, too, nyah nyah nyah.

Benefit: Yet more evidence that if you spend way too much money on weapons, sooner or later you're going to use them whether you need to or not.

Titillation, Shame or Fear Factor: 6 of 10.

Bullshit Factor: 10 of 10.

Semi-Final Winner: Saxon, with 17 points.

Second Match: McCain's Blonde Lobbyist! vs. Illegal High School Athletes!

McCain's Other Blonde

The Hype: GOP Presidential candidate seen repeatedly with blonde telecom lobbyist! Kinda looks like his wife! Aides had to warn him of "dangers" of getting too friendly! One former aide says McCain admitted an affair!

Big F-in' Deal: If this is about cozying up to lobbyists, fine. But didn't we all get our fill of playing peekaboo with politicians' sex lives during the Clinton years? Bottom line: Short of murder, politicians' private lives are none of my, or your, business.

Benefit: Viagra stock could swell and grow.

Titillation, Shame or Fear Factor: 9 of 10.

Bullshit Factor: 7 of 10.

Football Felons

The Hype: Student athletes give false addresses! My God, they're playing for the wrong team! Kids' morals at stake! City may implode! Seasons forfeited! Coaches fired!

Big F-in' Deal: OK, coaches and parents shouldn't lie to get their kids into a better football school (they should just move, like parents who want to avoid a lousy neighborhood school). But a huge "investigation," hand-wringing, firings, and "the sky is falling" editorials? Please, people; the schools have worse problems than this.

Benefit: Crummy football schools may make the playoffs if policies are enforced.

Titillation, Shame or Fear Factor: 9 of 10.

Bullshit Factor: 8 of 10.

Semi-Final Winner: Illegal Athletes, with 17 total points

The Finals

Madam Sallie Saxon! vs. Football Felons!

The Match-Up: Both contestants garnered 17 points in the semi-finals, and now it's time to determine the most over-hyped bullshit news story of the past few weeks.

How widespread are the stories?: Both are local items. Tie.

How potentially damaging to news subjects?: Kids are highly disappointed to have season forfeited, and coaches are on unemployment. If the madam's list is made public, however, look for wealthy heads to roll. Point to Sallie Saxon.

How common are the events hyped? Both happen all the time all over the country. Tie.

How much did public buy into the hype? Football players' bogus-address scandal edged out the call girls. Point to the Football Felons.

Which story could keep public's mind off real problems for the longest time? If, and it's a big if, the madam's list is released, we could look forward to lawsuits and media circuses well into next year. Point and match to Saxon.

Congratulations, Ms. Saxon -- you're our big winner! May the hype be with you.

For more commentary from John grooms, visit

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