Monday, December 01, 2008

This Flight Sends "The Investigator" Into Orbit

Since he was hired back in May by Wendy McCaw's News-Press, columnist Robert Eringer, aka "The Investigator" has written some pretty strange pieces.

He's ground a personal ax with the good folks who are in charge of the City's parking lots.

There was the column where he took us on a tour of the City's waste water treatment plant in which he referred to the day laborers who assemble near there in search of work as "bottom feeders" and Rick Caruso's proposal for the development of the Miramar as "crap."

And he has taken up the cause of the guy who had the gall to threaten the police chief.

However, no column he has written thus far is as bizarre as the one that appeared in Saturday's edition of the paper in which he goes on a tirade against U.S. Airways.

A reader who had seen the column on the website called it to my attention and wondered if it got posted by mistake. Evidently, it was no mistake and a check of the Santa Barbara Library's copy of Saturday's paper revealed that the article did indeed appear in the print edition.

On three separate occasions Eringer compares U.S. Airways employees to "Nazis" and on three other occasions he refers to them as "goons."

The story centers around one of Eringer's fellow passengers on a flight from Washington D.C. to Santa Barbara, who was accompanied by her dog, a Chihuahua, who apparently managed to breach the barrier of his kennel which was stowed under the seat in front of her in the cabin.

According to Eringer: "Because this young woman attempts to comfort her Chihuahua through the 5 1/2-hour flight, and the generally disgruntled-with-life flight attendants perceive this as a challenge to their Nazi-like authority (bestowed upon them by 9/11), they serve food and drink around the young woman, but not to her."

At another point in the column Eringer writes: "US Airways should be ashamed of its ancient fleet -- compared to, say, Virgin America, whose Airbuses are brand spanking new. But more important, US Airways should be compelled by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Communications Commission to remove Customers First from their misleading characterization of themselves-and replace it with Flight Attendants First."

(Okay, which one of us is going to break the news to "The Investigator" that it's the Federal Trade Commission, not the Federal Communications Commission, that has authority over claims of misleading advertising?)

Also, according to Eringer: "Anyone, anywhere issued with a uniform should be required to study the meaning of the word discretion before they are allowed to wear it."

The uniform or discretion?

I say anyone with a newspaper column ought to be required to have completed a course in English composition before they are allowed to write.

Anyway, all of this outrage on the part of "The Investigator" seems wholly disproportionate to whatever may have happened on board that plane. Kind of makes you wonder, did Eringer not get that extra serving of honey roasted peanuts he had been looking so forward to, or did he have one too many of those miniature bottles of liquor on that cross-country flight?

* * *

I noticed a new name among the News-Press by-lines that have appeared recently; it's that of Marci Wormser, who was formerly a copy editor for the Ventura County Star. Her first by-lined story, about the aftermath of the Tea Fire, appeared back on November 20th.

Seems to me her editing skills could have been put to good use when "The Investigator's" column came across the copy desk.