YAHOO’S YUTZES

Like many of you, I’ve been tethered to the battle for delegates en route to Tuesday’s pivotal New York primary—and repulsed.

The screeching vitriol, the screaming distortions, the self-centric bloviating, the relentless indecency, the fantastical illusions, the outrageous deceptions, the defamatory hocus-pocus, the cold-hearted treachery, the shameless bamboozling, the scandalous duplicity and, my God, the flat-out lies.

But enough about the media.

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In the crosshairs here: Yahoo.

Britain’s Daily Mail is said to be interested in buying financially challenged Yahoo. And why not? The two tabloids are highly compatible in tone: the Daily Mail is famously sensationalist, and Yahoo’s mostly low-brow home page is to news and ethics what Trumpet and Lyin’ Ted are to truth:

Any similarity is purely coincidental.

Yahoo maintains a boutique reporting staff along with $10 million-a-year Katie Couric, hired for star power and her potential to score high-profile interviews. Yahoo is an overwhelmingly aggregate operation, though. It poaches news and fluff from other sources for display on a homepage dotted, notes The Los Angeles Times, with “must-click crime stories, scintillating celebrity gossip and self-help items.”

And oh, yes, rampant fabrication and other crapola.

Dandruff Kills Family of Five

20 Ways to Pick Your Nose

All right, the above is hyperbole. But only slight hyperbole.

Yahoo is not just list-laden, it reeks of lists. Just today—and this is on the level—I came across 7 Actors That Are Actually Really Short. Which I was about to click on when I encountered The 13 Highest Paid Football Managers in the World. Information I’d been dying to know, but then my eye caught 8 Nail Clippers to Keep Your Nails in Tip Top Shape. Which I was about to explore until diverted by 3 Myths about Grief That Need to be Busted. Heart thumping, I would have clicked immediately had I not sighted Seattle’s Essential Brunch Restaurants.

I wonder if they offer highchairs for really short actors.

Well, you get the idea.

Nor does Yahoo take a back seat to any tabloid when it comes to outright deceit.

It reported recently that Trader Joe’s would close all its stores and discontinue its brand products in 2017.  A Trader Joe’s regular, I let out a yelp. Though posted March 31, the 600-word faux story turned out to be an April Fools’ joke.

How was anyone to know? Every day is April Fools’ at Yahoo.

On Friday, it ran this headline advertising a story about Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant signing fellow players’ sneakers as part of his marathon retirement ritual:

Kobe Bryant Threw Away Nick Young’s Sneakers in the trash instead of signing…

It looked like a snub, a cruel affront.  How could you, Kobe? When I clicked on the headline I learned that Bryant did, indeed, trash Young’s shoes—but then gave him a new pair that he subsequently signed.

Yahoo has a voracious appetite for the hateful. Flash back to Jan. 11 when it dangled this election-season carrot in front of readers:

Police Find Candidate’s Wife on the Side of the Road

Who wouldn’t bite on a headline this provocative? I sure did, and when clicking on it I learned it was accurate. The story, from BuzzFeed News, referred to Cruz’s, wife, Heidi, during a bout with depression, being found “sitting with her head in her hands” on a grassy area by an expressway in Austin, Tex.

In 2005.

oh.

Yahoo also swirls together news, commentary and ads into a single cocktail that blurs lines. This was typical:

Clinton’s email excuses are falling apart

The headline topped an unlabeled commentary by Washington Post columnist Marc A. Thiessen slid between news stories.

As was this one above an unlabeled Washington Post commentary: Hillary Clinton, blind to her own greed, makes another blunder

Yahoo is also notorious for its dishonest use of photos out of context.

Watch Hillary Clinton Completely Fall Apart Onstage shouted a headline that put a negative spin on a photo of her (eyes closed, face anguished) that appeared with a report from federalist.com saying she fumbled an answer to a question from Anderson Cooper during a CNN town hall telecast.

Perhaps she did. But the photo was unrelated to the question.

Elevating malicious to an art form, Yahoo used a photo of Clinton appearing disinterested, even bored under a headline referring to a campaign event: Hillary to Black Woman’s Question: Why don’t you go run for something?

One problem: the photo was from her earlier appearance before the GOP-led House committee investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic and CIA compound in Benghazi, Libya.

Not that Yahoo is partisan.

In a victory speech after winning the Nevada caucuses, Trumpet called out the various demographic groups that pushed him over the top. Yahoo chose to highlight only the one that made him look bad.

Trump’s cry: “I love the poorly educated.”

I suspect Yahoo does, too. I’m making out a list of 10 credible sources for news. Yahoo is not on it.

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MY KOBE PHOBIA

To Ko-be, or not Ko-be—that is the question.

Not a question, really, but a cheap and contrived way to evoke The Bard in a blog about the slings and arrows of outrageous sports loyalties. Apologies to Elizabethans and “Hamlet,” I doth plead guilty.

I’m no Shakespearian, obviously. Even less—much, much less—a Kobian.

Kobe Bryant is a good-looking, smart, reasonably articulate, remarkably gifted athlete who has performed stratospherically in a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers translating to world-class entertainment.

Yet…

Something about the guy just pisses me off.

It has nothing to do with my being a Los Angeles Clippers zealot, which lands me on the wrong side of the tracks in a city where Kobedom and Lakerdom thread the culture as ubiquitously as good weather and bad traffic.

It’s just that anointing celebrities as deity is usually unearned genuflection, whether it’s the bafflingly famous Kardashians or the late great King himself. I’ve been to Memphis on the anniversary of Elvis’ death and observed his gridlock of followers light candles and parade like zombies up the slope to his gaudy mansion where they ultimately disperse into the summer night like smoke. Talk about the Walking Dead.

One difference: in L.A.—the epicenter of over-the-top—Bryant’s parade is on-going. These zombies ain’t dispersing.

No wonder I’m Kobed out, up to here with ceaseless adoration of someone who in his final season is a shrunken hologram of the stratospheric force he once was. Years ago, in testament to his own lethal-strike capability on the court—so much for humility—Bryant began titling himself the Black Mamba. The nickname was a nice marketing strategy, and it stuck. Today, though, he’s less Mamba on the court than Samba. Other than rarely, he can’t defend, can’t move, can’t shoot, can’t do much of anything consistently but unwisely chuck air balls and give interviews.

A continuing theme on local sports radio: Bryant deserves relentless praise because, as someone said recently, he’s “done so much for the city.” Oh? And that would be? I’d argue that his contributions off the court remain elusive.

Yet the multitudes—his giddy celebrants, including much of sports media—continue pumping helium into the expanding blimp otherwise known as Bryant’s ego. It’s the only part of his game that hasn’t atrophied.

Sports media won’t let it go, especially in L.A. where local TV sportscasters inevitably—and lazily—cap their Lakers highlights with repetitive Bryant soundbites. Night after night, same questions, same answers.

His popularity is indisputable. He received by far the most votes of anyone elected by fans to start Sunday’s NBA All-Star game (his 15th) in Toronto. Earlier Bill Plaschke, the Los Angeles Times chief sports columnist, appeared to suggest that Bryant’s fellow all-stars pay homage by stepping aside and allowing him to become the game’s MVP. As in the scripted Washington Generals rolling over so the Harlem Globetrotters could follow a script and humiliate them without obstruction? That was worth a double take.

It turned out there was no need to accommodate Bryant Sunday. No one played defense on either side, giving his teammates as much free passage to the hoop and as many open shots as the honoree. He missed most of them anyway (the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook was MVP) after a lavish, over-produced pre-game tribute only slightly less thunderous than the Pope’s welcome in Mexico.

Now look, I’m hardly a stranger to intense sports loyalties. Although no marauding football hooligan, I’m pretty much a screwball fan myself.

In addition to the Clippers, I obsess over the Kansas City Royals in baseball (KC is my hometown) and Oklahoma Sooners in college football (I’m an OU alum). I’ve learned to roll with the ups and downs of the world-champ Royals. But when the Sooners or Clippers lose, my pain rises above mere suffering, I’m devastated—sometimes sad for days and too anguished even to read the game summaries online or in the paper. Can’t figure it. These teams don’t care about me, so why do I care about them so deeply? And with the Clippers, feel it to the bone when they’re unfairly maligned, which happens regularly in Lakers-centric L.A.?

Half the planet seems to be starving, the other half dying, and I’m crushed when the Sooners lose a football game or the Clippers get thumped? How rational is that?

When a fellow Sooners alum asked me recently why I wasn’t as passionate about OU’s highly ranked basketball team, I told him the truth. I already have the weight of Sooners football on my shoulders, I can’t take on more despair.

Or Kobe Bryant reverence. Which is why my answer is “not Ko-be.”