Headlines That Got More Attention Than They Deserved

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Morning Edition commentator John Ridley shares some of his top "non-troversies" of the year. All those news stories that seemed so important at the time but that now make you say "really?"


Our commentator John Ridley is back with his year-end tradition. Each year, he focuses on the year's news stories that we spent far too much time on - and he spends a little more time on them. He calls them "nontroversies."

JOHN RIDLEY, BYLINE: Another year, another 365 days; or another 365 micro-news cycles that were desperately clamoring for your attention. So before they disappear like a gaggle of NFL replacement refs, let's take a - hopefully - last look at some of the year's headlines that got way more attention than they deserved.

The Olympics are a biennial source of nontroversialism, and Ralph Lauren's China-made USA uniforms almost took the something-about-nothing gold. But that really couldn't compare to the outsized chatter over Gabby Douglas' hair. Now, this poor young lady is out trying to be the next Wheaties girl, and people are nagging her just because she forgot to pack a hot comb. As The Washington Post said, quote, "Black Twitter lit up." Personally, I was just happy to find out there even is a black Twitter 'cause white Twitter is kind of dull and doesn't dance very well.

Sticking with social media, there was the much-written-about, botched Facebook IPO. And really, it was only botched if your name isn't Mark Zuckerberg.

Actress Kristen Stewart was caught rounding second with her "Snow White" director, Rupert Sanders, in an incident that was truly, only interesting to the editors of People magazine and people trapped in long checkout lines. Really, Hollywood? Must you always, inexplicably, make stars out of young people who can't act, just to ruin them? Please, I'm counting on you to restore my faith in Tinseltown, Taylor Lautner, and girl-whose-name-I-don't-know from "iCarly."

Geraldo Rivera blaming Trayvon Martin's, quote, "thug wear" for getting himself shot because he was a black guy wearing a hoodie - just like I am, right now. The nontroversy here isn't that what Geraldo said was shockingly stupid. It's just that Geraldo saying something stupid is no longer shocking.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency taking down public enemy number one, Lance Armstrong. Now, here's the deal: Some agency you never heard of before, burns through recession-era money to ban Armstrong from the sport he's already retired from. But on the upside, with Armstrong officially gone, I can officially go back to not giving a you-know-what about the Tour de France.

Chick-fil-A versus Jim Henson's Muppets, in the battle over same-sex marriage. Now, I'm not saying I agree with Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy's position on the issue. I'm just saying there's no point in setting your moral compass by a company that's business model is built on chicken genocide.

But the biggest nontroversy of the year, for me - anything and everything that had to do with the 2012 presidential election. I mean, from Bain Capital to "you didn't build that," to Clint Eastwood's sermon to an empty chair, to trying to pink-slip Big Bird, this was like some kind of Olive Garden never-ending pasta bowl of non-issues. And even late-game guest appearances by perennial poster children of irrelevance Donald Trump and Gloria Allred, did nothing to enliven a couple of the most unsurprising October surprises in the history of gotcha politics.

The only thing to come out of this election cycle is, we all finally got to see how much fake outrage and hypocritical finger-pointing $2 billion actually buys; and they're already starting to talk about 2016. But until then, and for the next 365 days, here's wishing that your New Year is filled with nothing but consequence.

INSKEEP: Olive Garden never-ending pasta bowl of non-issues - that's going up on my wall. Commentator and screenwriter John Ridley; his new movie, "Twelve Years a Slave," will be released next year.

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