Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lesley Stahl's Earrings...humor about the venerable reporter's exquisite jewelry

Lesley Stahl’s Earrings

Perhaps my demographics are showing, but I’m a 60 Minutes watcher.

According to their advertisers, judging by the kinds of products they tout, you really are scratching in “yes” under the potential AARP magazine subscriber box if this is a program on your list of weekly “must sees.” Heck, if you have a weekly list of television must-sees, it may qualify you for checking that box.

I’ve always been a fan of the strong story; the typical beginning, middle and end, blended with the unique, “No kidding?!” element, frequently served up with a splash of irony, along with a call to action. This is the hallmark of the 60 Minutes school of storytelling.

And while I’m making admissions, here’s another one.

I am fascinated by Lesley Stahl’s earrings, seemingly incongruous gems that sway fancifully, even as she lobs hardball questions at any number of illustrious dignitaries, naysayers, yes-ma’amers, and let-me-explainers.

As an award-winning journalist Lesley does not equivocate, nor do those treasures that fairly scream, “Style! Power! High Salary!” It’s not just that she doesn’t suffer fools gladly, she doesn’t suffer at all. Maybe it’s because those earrings act as some sort of talisman warding off compromise while simultaneously courting controversy.

What I want to know is how can you not notice pair after exquisite pair of drop, semi-precious, or fully precious, stone earrings that bob in derision or quiver with indignation, accentuating Lesley’s relentless pursuit of the truth, dad gummit? (See paragraph about AARP box checking and please add utilization of the phrase, “dad gummit.”)

Oh, and the truth? SHE can handle the truth, you’d better believe it.

Also speaking of truth, truthfully, I’ve always been distracted by shiny things, baubles being at the top of my hit parade.

After a solid decade of hardcore 60 Minutes watching I realized that while I had favorite interviewers – Ed Bradley being my most favorite, he also being an earring wearer – I was always intrigued to see which one of the pieces from her collection Lesley would be wearing. It seemed I was tuning in as much for the earrings as I was for the stories, though her gift for narrative is noteworthy.

She’s interviewed scads of the famous, not-so-much-famous, or briefly-famous, including Facebook’s, Mark Zuckerberg, First Lady, Michelle Obama, American hostage, Roy Hallums, ex-tobacco-industry-lobbyist-turned-tobacco-opponent, Victor Crawford, and musical savant, Rex Lewis-Clack. There Lesley is swinging away as steadily as those solidly sassy earrings.

Last Sunday I was in the midst of delivering my usual commentary about which earrings would be making their appearance in the newscast when I stopped mid-observation and actually paid attention to the story.

The subject was slot machines which, as it turns out, our country boasts twice as many of as we do ATM machines. (Isn’t it ironic that you need the latter to feed the former?)

Where were they? (The earrings, not the slot machines.) I noticed Lesley had procured all new earrings, none of which were remotely akin to the earrings of yore. I counted at least four new pairs making their appearance and I would appreciate it if you would just let the fact that I counted them go by without comment.

Though they were quite lovely, they weren’t the usual ornamental fare and my personal 60 Minutes trivia game, “Which earrings will be adorning Lesley’s ears this evening?” was utterly destroyed.

The lag time between story production and air date being what it is, this stylistic modification was likely not elicited by recent Christmas gift giving either. It’s as though there’s a higher meaning intrinsic in this change, one that I feel more keenly when forged through the alchemy of jewelry.

Perhaps serving as metaphorical tea leaves these new trinkets are sending a subliminal message that I need to figure out, possibly before the new season of 60 Minutes ends?

There was another attention-grabbing component to the piece, as reported by the media with vigor, surrounding Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell’s hissy fit, defending slot machines in his state, when he shouted at Lesley and the crew, “You’re simpletons. You’re idiots…” While that was mildly interesting as viewing fodder, you know what grabbed my attention, don’t you?

His ears. No earrings. In fact, they weren’t even pierced.

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