Learning Too Much .. and not learning enough

There are two things on my mind this morning. Let me start with the more pleasant of the two topics on the table.

I watched a good part of the CNN/You Tube debate last night. While I found the format exciting, intriguing and perhaps the dawn of a new age of political debating, I was also worried as well. I found the format created great television and great theatre, but did little to expand my knowledge of the candidates.

While the questions from viewers were up front, honest and creatively done, the responses from the candidates quickly turned to talking points and canned answers. The problem with the You Tube debate format is that there is no follow up — and CNN’s Anderson Cooper did little to push the candidates for more compelling responses. Truthfully, it seemed more like an episode of Cooper’s former ABC series “The Mole”, that a real exchange of ideas. Then again, we are still seven months away from the first primary vote.

Now, to the more serious matter. From my years of covering sports, I’m guessing the buzz at training camp among the assembled media was not about Troy Polamalu’s new contract. It was about the indictment of local radio personality John Duffy on child porn charges. The only reason I mention this is because like many members of the sports media in this town, I know John Duffy — worked along side of him for years. It was a shock to hear about the charges facing him.

“Duff”, as he is known, was the one guy in the press box you actually pulled for. Physically challenged since birth, he walks with braces and crutches. Somehow, he did not let his physical limitations keep him from becoming a successful radio sports reporter for ESPN local and national and several other networks. Sitting next to him at Pirate games for years, I always found him sharp-witted and funny.

Telling you all this, you understand why it’s hard to hear someone you think you know so well is accused of such a heinous crime. You feel shock, disgust and anger — all at the same time. I guess it just proves that we really don’t know the people we think we do. I’m sure all of us have secrets – but I could not have imagined that this seemingly innocent-looking man could be involved in one of the most dreaded crimes against children – pornography.

I will not serve as judge, jury and executioner in this case. I just thought I would share my feelings. It’s difficult to learn someone you think you know may not be that person.

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