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Kathie Lee, 'The Gif,' and all that jazz

June 09, 1997

I was leafing through a copy of the Globe last week and - What? I got it solely because it promised "intimate details" of Kenny Rogers' fifth wedding for crying out loud, what did you think? - when I happened to stumble across a photo of someone named, maybe you've heard of her, Kathie Lee Gifford.

In the photo she's smiling wanly, her head bowed and eyes down. Seated, this Kathie Lee person is wearing a red dress and holding a cordless microphone across her lap. The photo is captioned: "Tears streamed down Kathie Lee's face as she aimed a meaningful medley of songs at Frank - including tunes like "Who's Sorry Now" - that left the former football hero red-faced in shame."

Well.

I know two things: 1.) I don't hate Kathie Lee Gifford and, 2.) I am in the minority. Friends tell me I'd have a firmer opinion of the woman if I'd ever seen her TV show, or seen her sing or, well, seen her do just about anything. But I haven't, so I demur.

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My experience with Kathie Lee comes from periodic newspaper headlines, which I hop upon like rocks in a stream - demonstrating just enough interest in each case to keep from getting my feet wet.

She's always doing something wacky. But I am a very self-centered person and so long as she doesn't come and get me to work in the sweat shops 14 hours a day to prop up her clothing empire, well, what's the big deal?

But I do have issues with this Frank/Kathie Lee/Suzen Johnson caper on a couple fronts. First is the reaction from the crowd. A full 99 percent of the viewing audience believes that Frank was wrong to cheat on Kathie Lee. But a full 99 percent of the viewing audience is nevertheless tickled pink that he did.

Wow. Kathie Lee must reeeeaaaaalllllly be baaa-aaaad. It's like the Sixth Commandment said, "Thou shalt not commit adultery; unless thoust verily be married to a she-devil who doth perpetually yappeth about how perfect her betrothment - in which case, partiest thou on."

The second issue is the degree that this tryst has been analyzed in the press. First the Globe ran the story - and why not, they paid for it. All the other tabs are still stuck on Jon Benet.

Then the mainstream press jumped in its typical serendipitous fashion. When it comes to smelly stories like this, instead of reporting the event, the mainstream media report on the lowlife scum tabloid that reported the story to begin with - and of course by way of background they have to print the seedy details of the event themselves.

And what do you know, the New Republic even got into the act by reporting on how the media were reporting on the tabloid that did the reporting. Whew.

But my third and major issue with the Gifford fiasco is this: How come it never happens to me? I mean heck, I'm pretty well known in the area. You might think the View or the Hancock News would want to get an exclusive story by setting me up (and paying the tab) for a clandestine, gorgeous-babe appointment.

I'm telling you folks, hard as it may be to believe, I can be had.

My reputation is just sitting there, waiting to be sullied. As rigid as my moralistic code may be, as lofty as my standards are, as iron as my will is ironed, it would be quite a coup to knock me down a peg by lining up a few fashion model/airline stewardess types, not that I'm suggesting anything.

But who am I kidding. It will never happen. No publication will fork out $75,000 just to see me besmirched, no matter how much it might devastate me. And I mean that. It would devastate me. I'd be pretty upset, I'd - hello? Hellloooo!

Phooey.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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