In the absence of any substantial news on Mayor Bob Filner, absurdity has started to fill the void.

Sara Libby on NewsThat was certainly true Tuesday, when a series of photos from local Hooters restaurants declaring Filner unwelcome started racing around the internet.

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’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.

Blurred Line-Crossing

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.

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    Written by Sara Libby

    Sara Libby is VOSD’s managing editor. She oversees VOSD’s newsroom and its content. You can reach her at sara.libby@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0526.

    10 comments
    Diogenes
    Diogenes

    Please resign, Bob, so I don't have to look at Gloria Allred's face. Make her go away!!!!!

    Ron Donoho
    Ron Donoho

    Cheap shots, bad jokes and media stunts are keeping the spotlight and the pressure on Bob Filner to resign. When the public loses interest is when the mayor has the best shot at dodging the bullets. The pragmatic reality here is that his legion of accusers deserve respect. But the citizens of San Diego who want to get back to doing civic good deeds owe pundits like Conan O'Brien a thank you for every "Weiner vs. Filner Perv-Off" joke they air. Keep 'em coming!

    Happy_Hippie
    Happy_Hippie

    As I see it, if these so- called media stunts succeed in peaking the curiosity of a portion of the community that doesn't' t routinely read or watch the news and it gets these folks to check out what's going on around them, then these "stunts" have succeeded in helping to educate this segment of the population and may encourage them to form opinions and act on them. Filner needs to leave office sooner than later. He's a sleeze bag and corrupt. I support the media doing whatever it takes to get the word out.

    Don Wood
    Don Wood

    "embarrassing media stunts" is a pretty good description of everything that's been going on for the last month or so in San Diego. And in many cases, the media has been as guilty as the people its blaming for the stunts. Embarrassing media stunts might also be a good name for a new band.. with apologies to Dave Barry...

    Don Wood
    Don Wood subscriber

    "embarrassing media stunts" is a pretty good description of everything that's been going on for the last month or so in San Diego. And in many cases, the media has been as guilty as the people its blaming for the stunts. Embarrassing media stunts might also be a good name for a new band.. with apologies to Dave Barry...

    Happy_Hippie
    Happy_Hippie

    It is your right not to patronize an establishment, but to generalize the working women as wanna-be strippers is disgusting to say the least. If they wanted to be, they could be. Many of these young women are working their way through school buddy. Yes, I'm a woman speaking up for these hard-working ladies because I've walked a mile or two in their shoes!

    David Hall
    David Hall

    The media coverage in this city (it's not a town) has been terrible. Piling on day after day with nothing of real news may generate hits on your websites, but it does this city no good. VoSD seems to be in a race to the bottom with the UT for who can use the name "Filner" to rehash the same old story. It's just not funny or productive. As for Hooters, their food is awful. Unless you're some middle aged, pot bellied, balding man who needs to have his ego stroked by a stripper wannabe in a bad outfit, there is no real reason to patronize that chain.

    Randy Dotinga
    Randy Dotinga

    It's a little too clunky to be a good band name, with apologies also to Mr. Barry. Maybe something like Media MIshaps and the Holding Company? Seriously: Just about every major media organization in town has published/aired an embarrassing story or two over the past month. And just about every outlet has done remarkable, non-sensational and sensitive work. The good greatly outweighs the bad. I'm proud of the journalists in this town.

    David Hall
    David Hall subscriber

    The media coverage in this city (it's not a town) has been terrible. Piling on day after day with nothing of real news may generate hits on your websites, but it does this city no good. VoSD seems to be in a race to the bottom with the UT for who can use the name "Filner" to rehash the same old story. It's just not funny or productive. As for Hooters, their food is awful. Unless you're some middle aged, pot bellied, balding man who needs to have his ego stroked by a stripper wannabe in a bad outfit, there is no real reason to patronize that chain.

    Randy Dotinga
    Randy Dotinga memberauthor

    It's a little too clunky to be a good band name, with apologies also to Mr. Barry. Maybe something like Media MIshaps and the Holding Company? Seriously: Just about every major media organization in town has published/aired an embarrassing story or two over the past month. And just about every outlet has done remarkable, non-sensational and sensitive work. The good greatly outweighs the bad. I'm proud of the journalists in this town.


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