On January 3rd, Ted Williams was homeless and begging for money on the side of the road. That all changed when a reporter from the Columbus Dispatch rolled down his window and recorded a brief one and a half minute interview with Williams. That video was posted on YouTube and became an instant internet sensation, racking up well over 10 million views in less than 2 days. That’s when the media tidal wave zeroed in to get a piece of this new found celebrity. Local radio, CBS, NBC and others just couldn’t get enough of this guy. Oprah, ESPN, MTV all eagerly offered jobs, money, fame, or whatever else they could to ‘help’ Williams.
Sounds nice – but who were all of these big job offers really designed to help? Ted Williams? Or themselves? ‘Saving’ Williams would be PR gold for any company, the only thing that could go wrong (and the only way their true motive would be revealed) was if Williams got arrested or something. Ooops! On January 10th Williams was arrested and later admitted to relapsing and checked into rehab.
Just like that, Williams went from totally chic, to like, totally geek. No more opening up the Today Show. No more voice overs. In the blink of an eye the media kicked Ted Williams back to the curb he came from.
Maybe they’ll prove me wrong and start trying to pretend like they actually care about the guy– but right now all the outpouring of support for Williams has vanished. They chewed him up, milked him for what he was worth, and spit him back out. Yes, Dr. Phil is going to try work his magic on Williams, but somehow I just don’t think that’s going to cut it.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that the media should ignore great human interest stories. It’s not their fault he relapsed. Honestly, I don’t really even know what they could have done differently. Maybe the 27th producer in line could have called off the dogs and let the guy start living his life. I don’t know if that would have helped. The only thing I do know is that if he ever gets back on his feet, a job and everything else – the media will once again be there to milk that success story for all it’s worth.