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Nadworny: On Keeping Secrets

01/19/10 5:55PM By Rich Nadworny
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(HOST) Commentator Rich Nadworny has been thinking about image, reality and keeping secrets.

(NADWORNY) In today's changing media world its nuts to think that you can keep secrets for very long. All it takes is a one good leak or a good blogger and even the best kept secrets will blow up in your face. Gone are the days, for better or worse, when the media didn't talk about things like FDR's physical infirmities or Mickey Mantle's drinking.

I was thinking about this as I read yet another part of the ongoing Tiger Woods saga. I doubt many people have missed the Tiger Woods story over the last month or two. It's like the gift that keeps on giving.

Part of the reason we're so interested in this story is the fact that Tiger Woods crafted a picture of himself as an uber-mensch, with nerves of steel, in complete control, and not prone to making mistakes. Turns out that he was living a "Tiger Gone Wild" secret life with a variety of women across the U.S.

And though many people knew about his escapades - a few first hand accounts even appeared online - the media kept quiet about it for a long time. So long, in fact, with no big leaks, that he seems to have simply assumed this behavior could go on indefinitely.

Big mistake. And the thing is, people get upset when they discover that the difference between a public and private persona is too great. It might be tough, but today we demand that people not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.

That expectation may lie at the heart of another story that's been simmering away in Burlington in recent months. Now I'm not suggesting a direct comparison between Mayor Bob Kiss and Tiger Woods, but apparently someone in the Kiss administration sat on knowledge of a mounting and threatening debt load at the city-owned Burlington Telecom. Someone cut a few corners to keep the telecom provider afloat and hoped they could come up with a solution before people found out about the problems. And now the mayor is faced with a frustrated city council and a disillusioned public.

The problem is that Bob Kiss ran for mayor as someone who might not be the most exciting candidate, but one who could keep a steady hand on the wheel of government. Now it appears that he either had an unsteady hand, or he allowed somebody else to drive.

While the reaction to the financial crisis is real, I think part of the issue in Burlington is the disconnect between the perception and the reality.

Celebrities, politicians - even brands - realize today that they can't cut corners on transparency or integrity and still command our respect. And we want them to be authentic. At least, that's what we think we want.

So why do I keep hearing, in my head, Jack Nicholson from the movie "A Few Good Men" saying, "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth."

(TAG) You can find more commentaries by Rich Nadworny on-line at VPR-dot-net.
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