In the absence of any substantial news on Mayor Bob Filner, absurdity has started to fill the void.
But that was only the latest in a series of embarrassing Filner-related media stunts that have punctuated the scandal, using it as a springboard for cheap shots and bad jokes that detract from very serious allegations that have dominated city dialogue and haunted the women who have come forward to tell their stories.
Here’s a look back at the worst offenders.
The Hooters Unwelcome Mat
On Tuesday, the local Republican Party executive director tweeted a photo from the front door of a Rancho Bernardo Hooters restaurant. “The mayor of San Diego will not be served in this establishment,” it said. “We believe women should be treated with respect.”
Coming from Hooters, that pillar of moral propriety, the photo was gleefully shared by tons of reporters in San Diego and D.C.
Time magazine’s Jay Newton-Small did a good job putting it in the appropriate context:
It is the height of irony when Hooters won’t serve Mayor Filner out of respect for women: http://t.co/mz11A6sXu4
— Jay Newton-Small (@JNSmall) August 13, 2013
It’s the ultimate red herring. The photo seizes on the Filner scandal without actually addressing anything. Of all the #FilnerEverywhere sightings from the past eight months, I don’t remember any coming from a Hooters.
I know, UT-TV is low-hanging fruit.
But it’s still worth pointing out that several people actually spent time producing this parody video of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” It features various UT-TV personalities gyrating while enormous, neon pink hashtags like “#CREEPER” flicker on the screen. There’s also a dancing body with a large, cartoonish Filner head wobbling on top.
Sample lyric: “He thinks you want it, but you don’t want it. It makes us vomit. She’s a good girl.”
The video represents UT-TV in a nutshell: It seizes on a subject ripe with potential for legitimate news, and instead produces something vapid and embarrassing.
The Warning Sign
Perhaps no singular moment has captured the seriousness vs. ridiculousness dichotomy of the scandal quite as perfectly as a scene that played out during Gloria Allred’s latest press conference.
A nurse, and an injured Marine vet under her care, had both just told the press about a terrible encounter with Filner during which, the nurse said, he made unwanted sexual advances and suggested help for the Marine depended on her willingness to see him socially.
The women’s stories were devastating – a direct blow at Filner’s legacy of helping veterans, and emotionally resonant even after more than 10 women had already come forward.
Then things took a ridiculous turn.
Allred, a lawyer for Michelle Tyler, the nurse, retrieved a homemade sign she said she wanted Filner to post outside his office. The sign replaced the skull in a skull-and-crossbones symbol with Filner’s grinning face, and warned, “Mayor is in his office proceed at your own risk!!”
The sign instantly undermined the very serious, somber accusations Tyler had just made. Allred didn’t just overplay her hand – she did a disservice to her client by reducing her gut-wrenching account to a silly media stunt.