Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Whoopi Goldberg on dogfighting: Only good for ratings

By Mike Lupica
New York Daily News

Wednesday, September 5th 2007, 4:00 AM

Whoopi Goldberg, whose career hasn't exactly been a rocket to the moon since she won her Academy Award for "Ghost," made her debut on "The View" yesterday, and within about 15 minutes a smart woman wasn't just defending Michael Vick, but making you miss Rosie O'Donnell the way the Yankees will miss Derek Jeter someday.

"There are certain things that are indicative to certain parts of the country," Goldberg said of dogfighting.

Then she said that where Vick comes from in the South - suddenly making Newport News, Va., sound like the setting for "Deliverance" - dogfighting isn't that unusual. Of course it's not. That's why we're constantly being bombarded by stories about people raised where Vick was raised doing what he did, taking the kind of fall he just took, occasionally even blowing $100 million deals in the process.

Who knows. Maybe Goldberg is under the impression that before Vick gave the sport such a bad name by drowning and electrocuting underperforming dogs, we might have been on our way to professional dogfighting leagues, fantasy dogfighting, maybe even some kind of dogfighting Super Bowl!

Goldberg also said that she thought it interesting how long it took Vick to realize he was up against serious charges.

"It seemed like a light went off in his head when he realized this was something that the entire country didn't appreciate," she said.

You think?

Maybe the light for Goldberg will go off sooner, even if she is getting exactly what she wants today, which is plenty of attention, here and everywhere else. One wire service story about Goldberg's comments said that she had "served notice that she won't shy away from controversy." This isn't a controversy. This just sounded like another call to sports-talk in the middle of the night.

Maybe Whoopi Goldberg has read the indictment against Vick, Quanis Phillips, Purnell Peace, Tony Taylor. If she hasn't, here are some good talking points for today's show, from Criminal Indictment No. 3:07CR 274:

* "In or about April 2007, Peace, Phillips and Vick executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in 'testing' sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground.

* On or about April 25, 2007, Peace, Phillips and Vick possessed various items associated with continued operation of the dogfighting operation at 1915 Moonlight Road, including ... a "rape stand," a device in which a female dog who is too aggressive to submit to males for breeding is strapped down with her head held in place by a restraint; a "break" or "parting" stick used to pry open fighting dogs' mouths during fights ..."

When Christian Red of the Daily News went down to Virginia last week to report on the Vick story, he ended up at the Hanover County (Va.) Animal Control facility and saw 11 dogs seized from Vick's property with visible scars all over their bodies.

If this is something common to the region and common to the state, even Whoopi Goldberg, now an instant television expert on Vick and on dogfighting and the state of Virginia, would have to admit that the government is probably going to have to hire more people.

Whoopi Goldberg is allowed to defend whomever she wants in her new gig. She was hired to give her opinions. But come on. This sort of treatment of animals isn't "indicative" of any particular region. Just of a bunch of young guys who thought they could act like bums and get away with it. And, oh, by the way, it is a hideous treatment of animals about which Vick lied to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

And to us.

In July Vick stood on the courthouse steps and had his lawyer Billy Martin - a lawyer now representing another poor, misunderstood soul, outgoing (outgoing in all ways) Idaho Sen. Larry Craig - read a statement that told us that Vick had pleaded innocent to the charges against him and would immediately commence clearing his name. Then his pals at the Bad Newz Kennels rolled on Vick faster than he used to roll to his left and right and he was back in court pleading guilty, right before he made a long-overdue move toward the Lord.

In December he will be sentenced to what is expected to be at least a year in jail, perhaps more than that. And for the last time, this time for Whoopi Goldberg: The South didn't do this to Vick, having money didn't do this to him, being African-American didn't do this to him. Vick financed dogfighting and gambling on dogfighting, signed off on torturing and killing dogs. When you get caught doing that you go to jail.

Making this about geography is just another bubble-headed way for people to change the subject, make this about something other than torturing and killing dogs and calling it sport.

Whatever her motives, Goldberg gets the headlines she wants today, gets the attention that all actresses need, gets people to watch her show the day after a "controversy" like this the way Rosie did when she'd take out after somebody like Donald Trump and the headlines would go for days.

And look on the bright side. Even if things don't work out for Whoopi with Barbara Walters:

All they do to underperforming talk show hosts is cancel them.

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Mike Lupica-

Mike Lupica is one of the best-known and widely read sports columnists in the United States. He began his newspaper career with the New York Post in 1975, at the age of 23, covering the Knicks. In 1977, he became the youngest columnist ever at a New York paper when he joined the Daily News. His work has also appeared in Newsday, The National, Esquire, Sport, World Tennis, Tennis, Travel & Leisure Golf, Playboy, Sports Illustrated and Parade. Lupica has written or co-written four previous nonfiction books: "Reggie," the autobiography of Reggie Jackson; "Parcells," an autobiography of former Giants and Patriots coach Bill Parcells; "Wait 'Till Next Year," co-written with William Goldman; and "Shooting From The Lip," a collection of columns. In addition, he has written a number of novels including "Dead Air," "Extra Credits," "Limited Partner," "Jump and Bump, "Run," "Full Court Press," "Red Zone, "Travel Team," "Heat" and the new "Miracle on 49th Street."

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