- The Washington Times - Friday, November 14, 2003

Nobles: Art Carney, for his hysterical portrayal of humble Ed Norton. Mr. Carney, who died this week at 85 years old, will be best remembered as Ed Norton, “The Honeymooners” self-described “subterranean sanitation engineer.”

Unlike Jackie Gleason’s hard-driven Ralph Kramden, who tried to rise above his circumstances through crazy get-rich schemes, Mr. Carney’s Norton had no such pretensions. His optimistic simple-mindedness drove Mr. Kramden crazy, especially when coupled with the arm-flailing flourishes he used to sign anything. Mr. Norton’s pretensions with the pen were preposterous because of the presumption that he would be back in the sewer by the time by the ink was dry.

In his lengthy television career, Mr. Carney won seven Emmys, five of them for playing Mr. Norton. He won acclaim on Broadway as the original Felix Unger in Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” and won an Oscar for best actor in 1974 for the movie “Harry and Tonto.”

However, Mr. Carney’s life was hardly a honeymoon. He battled bouts of depression and alcoholism, once spending almost six months in rehabilitation. He was so badly wounded during World War II that he walked with a limp for the remainder of his life. Mr. Carney’s first two marriages ended in divorce, and his family still won’t say what he died from.

Although he has passed, Mr. Carney’s booming “Hey Ralphie boy!” will continue to bring laughter from both honeymooners and the heartbroken.

Knaves: The CEOs of CNN, for dumbing down the Democratic debate.

The forum that aired on CNN earlier this month was expected to be a bit off-beat, not because any of the candidates had been seen surreptitiously practicing a saxophone, but because it was co-sponsored Rock the Vote organization.

Even though the attire of the candidates suggested that most were already a bit out of step with their audience, CNN’s producers still tried to alter the rhythm of the debate — so much so that they actually scripted a question. A producer told Brown freshman Alexandra Trustman that she would ask a less-challenging variant of her original question of how the candidates would utilize technology in their administrations.

So, Ms. Trustman put up her head-scratcher, “Macs or PCs?”

Admittedly, the question had the virtue of eliciting short responses. But Ms. Trustman didn’t even see its relevance, and she was castigated by her peers for embarrassing Brown. In response, she wrote an op-ed to the Brown Daily Herald explaining the situation, “The show’s host wanted the … question asked, not because he was wondering about the candidates views of technology, but because he thought it would be a good opportunity for the candidates to relate to a younger audience.”

CNN said it said that it regretted the producer’s actions, but it neither identified the person nor promised that he or she would be punished. That unrepentant regret suggests that the scripting did not happen by accident. Rather, it was in response to the demands of network executives so desperate for ratings that they would countenance the planting of questions in a presidential debate.

For sophomoric scripting, CNN’s CEOs are the Knaves of the week.

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