October 26, 2010 | 5:22pm
California and New York are in the midst of colorful gubernatorial elections, but Florida's race hasn't been getting much national attention. That's amazing considering an unfit, self-financed, crooked businessman hell-bent on stirring up divisive issues might become the next governor of the fourth most populace state. Forget that, though -- the national media is now all atwitter over Alex Sink's "iCheat" episode in last night's nationally televised debate. Apparently, that's all it takes to get them interested.
Actually, let's get something clear. Alex Sink herself did not cheat; an exceedingly dumb senior staffer did. Senior adviser Brian May sent a text message to the Android phone of Sink's makeup artist; the message contained a suggested retort. Staffers sending messages to the candidates was against the rules of the debate -- rules that May himself had signed off on. Sink swiftly and rightly fired May for his unbelievably stupid action.
Outside of covering her eyes with her hands and chanting, "La-la-la-la, I can't hear or see anything, la-la-la-la!" Sink really couldn't have done anything else in that situation. Apart from the apparent misjudgment in hiring May, she really can't be blamed.
To claim Sink herself cheated seems at least a little dishonest.
You probably read about this story in one of the hundreds of places that have written about it. Even the international press has gotten on the story.
"No wonder so many Americans are so disillusioned with their politicians," concludes writer Toby Harnden.
As far as we can tell, it's the first time Harnden has bothered to pay attention to the race, and he makes no mention of opponent Rick Scott's serious ethical failings. Seems to be a serious disservice to readers not to report the full picture.
Meanwhile, the folks at the once-relevant Washington Post
have reduced the issue to a listicle of "great debate blunders."
Oh, joy -- listicles!
The New York Times
Caucus blog delivers an account
that at least mentions some of the actually important issues debated before throwing them aside and going full speed ahead on the cheating scandal.
All in all, Google News has at least 330 stories indexed on "iCheat."
Certainly, Riptide has had some fun blowing up minor issues in this race, but at least we try to do it with some knowing humor and a few winks. We've also balanced that by covering and commenting on some of the lesser-talked-about issues at stake.
We can't blame media outlets for gaming for those sweet, sweet page views on a slow news day by jumping on a mini-scandal, but with only a week left in this election, we'd hope they'd follow it up with more important stories.
This election shouldn't come down to whether Sink, or at the very least one of her staffers, cheated. It should come down to whether Floridians support a racist immigration policy
. It should come down to whether we agree that all welfare recipients should be drug-tested
. It should come down to the the direction of the state's education system, high-speed rail plans, and the economy.
True, at the end of the day, it's a race between a woman whose biggest scandal seems to involve minor debate cheating and a man whose biggest scandal involved, oh, $1.7 billion in fines for Medicare fraud, but it's really about so much more.