When I first heard about it, I thought it was a joke. What columnist—especially one with 22 years of experience—would write a story about all of the sports events Jaycee Dugard missed during 18 years of captivity and rape by a sexual pervert?
But that’s exactly what Orange County Register sports columnist Mark Whicker did.
“She never saw a highlight. Never got to the ballpark for Beach Towel Night. Probably hasn’t high fived in a while.”
He then proceeded to list 20-some things Jaycee didn’t get to see while she lived in a hell-hole, from Barry Bonds breaking Hank Aaron’s home run record, to the Anaheim Ducks winning the Stanley Cup.
He ended with “Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard.” Funny, huh?
To add insult to injury, after readers started sending in angry emails, Whicker issued a lame apology.
“For Tuesday’s Register, I wrote a column that clearly offended and outraged large portions of our readership. It was not my intention to do so. But it’s obvious that I miscalculated the effect the column on Jaycee Dugard, and the events that she might have missed during her captivity, had on those who read, buy and advertise in our newspaper.”
Yeah, and what about Jaycee and her family?
“For 22 1/2 years at The Register, I feel like I’ve had a good and direct relationship with our audience and I think most of the regular readers know how I go about reporting and commenting on sports. This column appears to have disconnected that bond with at least part of our readers. For that I apologize.”
He goes on to call it a “lapse in professionalism.”
How about calling it extreme bad taste, an outrage, an insult, arrogance, and a dozen other things I could think of?
At least the deputy editor, John Fabris, (one of many who should have stopped the column before it ran) posted an apology that seemed sincere and contrite.
“The past few days have been the kind that make an editor’s heart ache. We ache thinking about the hurt we have caused, and we ache knowing it was preventable.”
Maybe it’s time for Whicker to issue his own honest apology.