In the spirit of the holidays just past and with a clean slate to start the new year I humbly present an All-Winners edition of Winners and Losers. Not that there weren’t more than a handful of politicians who deserved a Loser nod this week. But I am sticking to my guns on this one (sorry for the violent, non-PC imagery there) and offering only positive and life-affirming recognition this time around.
Phil Robertson — Winner — 67-year-old backwoods redneck Phil Robertson took on a powerful multimedia empire and two massively-funded, well-organized special interest groups and won. Agree with Robertson’s comments or don’t; that’s your prerogative. But we give credit where credit is due and this week little David won out against a triad of Goliaths. Millions of people turned out in support of Robertson within hours of A&E handing down his punishment. The network that proclaimed itself a “champion” of gay rights had to capitulate completely and unequivocally. The suspension came and went before filming resumed on the series, so it was utterly without impact to Robertson or the show.
A&E — Winner — Oddly enough, A&E, the network that suspended Phil Robertson and suffered a tidal wave-sized backlash from both sides of the political spectrum is a winner this week. Make no mistake about it, A&E lost the battle. The network honchos reacted foolishly, pandered to the extremes, and then folded like a cheap tent under pressure from their golden goose. But in the end of it all they kept their ratings superstar and actually attracted more fans to the show than they had before. And those Phil-haters who will now and forever more boycott Duck Dynasty? They were not in the demographic who was watching it anyway. Somehow, despite doing everything wrong, A&E came out of this smelling like a rose.
The NSA — Winner — A federal judge ruled, in essence, that the NSA can do whatever it wants and if you don’t like it you can go suck an egg. I’m paraphrasing, but not by much. With the judicial branch’s blessing and a relative lack of public outrage, the National Security Agency will most likely become even bolder in its overreaching into your personal affairs in 2014.
CNN, FoxNews, and every other Network not named “MSNBC” — Winners — The big wigs running the other news networks must feel a rush of pride and relief every time an on-air personality at MSNBC puts foot in mouth. Which means the big wigs running the other news networks feel a rush of pride and relief pretty often. How’s that for a back-handed way to name a winner this week?
Minimum Wage Workers (Some) — Winners — Workers struggling to make ends meet on a minimum wage paycheck in 13 states got a boost this week. New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington are raising their state minimum wage — some more than others — at the start of 2014. While there are many who argue that it isn’t enough, it is something and every little bit helps when you are trying to make a living on corporate bread crumbs.
Potheads in Colorado — Winners — Like it or not, recreational marijuana is now 100% legal in Colorado. From a purely academic standpoint, this should offer an absolutely fascinating opportunity to quantitatively evaluate the impact that legalizing the drug will have on society. From a personal point of view, I’m happy to live in a state where the likelihood of my waiter being completely stoned is relatively lower.