Several faithful readers have written to ask why I have yet to comment on hometown hero Kanye West's latest obnoxious outburst at MTV's Video Music Awards Sunday night. (The producer and rapper derailed the acceptance speech by Taylor Swift to assert his critical opinion that Beyonce's video was much better and more deserving of the Best Female Video prize. Thank you, Mr. West.)
Wrote Brian Husar: "Jim, you know I respect you, but why when your hero Kanye West makes an ass of himself as he did last night you never report it (there was nothing out of you and ["Sound Opinions" co-host and Tribune rock critic Greg] Kot about his fiasco at last year's Bonnaroo fest either), but if Bono did what he did last night you would probably delight in reporting it."
Well, Brian, in part, 'Ye's tirades have become so commonplace that they're not even news anymore (or at least they bore me silly); in part, I'd rather write about his music than his antics, and in part, the VMAs have become so dreadfully dull -- on top of being rigged from the beginning -- that I no longer even waste digital space for them on the DVR. Plus, I had nothing to add to the gossip columnists' thorough examination of the issue -- though I am inclined to side with the handful of bloggers who suggested that the whole thing was rigged by MTV for cheap headlines (a la the butt-in-Eminem's-face stunt at the network's movie awards earlier this year), with West going along because it got him publicity (he seems unable to distinguish between good and bad press) and nicely set up his appearance on the debut of Jay Leno's new show (oh, those crocodile tears!).
If the outburst wasn't rigged, you also could argue that West is pretty unique in injecting the rare moment of spontaneous emotion into the most staged of events.
Ultimately, though, I could never be as eloquent on this incident as our Commander in Chief, fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama, as reported by Politico.com last night:
ABC News reporter Terry Moran caused quite a commotion tonight on Twitter after writing the following: "Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a 'jackass' for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT'S presidential."
The irony here is that the President made that comment during an off-the-record portion of the interview with the reporter, which means the TV talking head broke the number-one rule of journalistic ethics and is an even bigger jackass than Kanye. Politico again:
An ABC spokesperson explains to POLITICO what happened: In the process of reporting on remarks by President Obama that were made during a CNBC interview, ABC News employees prematurely tweeted a portion of those remarks that turned out to be from an off-the-record portion of the interview. This was done before our editorial process had been completed. That was wrong. We apologize to the White House and CNBC and are taking steps to ensure that it will not happen again.
A CNBC spokesperson declined comment.
The White House had no immediate comment.
Audio is on TMZ
On one level, it's sad to see two Chicago greats going at it like this in public; on another, hey, it's part of the great hip-hop tradition of public beefs. And since West certainly needed SOMEONE to tell him that the petulant loser act was getting old, who better than our nation's top executive to really drive the point home?
Kanye, I'm sure you're regretting the whole thing right about now. But I have the perfect way for you to get back in Obama's good graces and redeem yourself before taking that promised sabbatical and obviously much-needed vacation. We need one quick mix-tape track from you ... it should, of course, be called "You Lie," and it needs to be dedicated to Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina.