Sunday, January 25, 2015


The other night I sat down in front of the television to watch Brian Williams give me the news. The U.S. embassy in Yeman possibly was in danger because of an attempted coup, a couple of Japanese hostages were being threatened by Isis, and the President of the United States (POTUS, for short) was about to give the State of the Union address.

Imagine my disbelief when the lead story turned out to be how many pounds per square inch of air was or was not in a football.

DeflateGate was the lead story. Holy smokes.

DeflateGate, of course, is the scandal that keeps on giving when it was discovered that 11 of the 12 footballs that the New England Patriots brought to last Sunday's 2015 AFC Championship game were allegedly underinflated. The implication is that an underinflated football is easier to throw and catch in inclement weather.

New England clobbered Indianapolis 47-7 for the right to go to the Super Bowl, scoring 28 unanswered points in the second half —after the balls were reinflated to league standards at halftime.

(The following Saturday Night Live skit about the so-called controversy is hilarious, in my view perhaps one of the best skits the show has done in years):

 To me, the issue is a non-issue. I am not a Patriots fan by any means, but I really don't care how much air is in a football at game time.

What does bother me, especially as a retired journalist with more than 30 years in the business, is the media use of the suffix "-gate" to describe yet another scandal. Ergo, DeflateGate. Sheesh.

Journalists are supposed to be original types, occasionally equipped with the necessary brain cells to cut through the crap and get to the truth. Yet, since the original Watergate scandal that brought down an American president in 1972-74, almost every scandal since then — about 40 years' worth — has some kind of "-gate" attached to it (see a list of "-gates" here). It doesn't even make sense.

OK, smart guy, what would I call the Patriots' latest faux pas? "Airball" quickly comes to mind. So does "Pfftball." These headlines took all of three seconds to come up with (well, maybe it shows), but at least I managed to avoid the offending suffix.

It's time to close the gate on those gates.

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