Seniors & Aging

Pam Stone | American attention span quickly skips by scandals

If there’s one man who was appreciative of the story this week about the wealthy American dentist, Walter James Palmer, who, after spending tens of thousands of dollars to lure a cherished, collared and protected lion name Cecil out into the open in order to shoot, stalk and finally kill and behead the animal, it’s Bill Cosby.

Because the news, particularly 24-hour cable and Internet news, relies on a continuous stream of information and stories to fling out to the masses, many of whom are already involved in a feeding frenzy from the latest big story.

And Cos, after it had been revealed in previously private documents that he had indeed purchased drugs for the intent of giving to women in order to have sex, is wiping his brow in relief after being pushed off the front page by the grinning (and what marvelous Baywatch-white teeth he has!) Dr. Palmer, proudly posing with Cecil or one of the other 43 big-game animals he has harvested, shirtless chest glistening with sweat, not unlike the macho glamour shots posted from time to time of Vladamir Putin.

In Dr. Palmer’s defense, currently under investigation, is his claim that he had no idea the lion was wearing a collar and had trusted his guides to legally procure a suitable lion to shoot. He has vowed cooperation, but as of this writing, he has not returned calls from the African investigators.

Take heart, Walter! Whether or not you are lying as you receive death threats and have had to close your practice and weather the storm on social media, know this: Here in America and as outraged as many of your countrymen are at this moment, according to the National Center of Biotechnology Information, our average attention span is 8 seconds – 1 second less than that of a gold fish.

(No wonder they always look like they’re saying, “Wow,” when they swim around the bowl and see something they forgot they just saw a minute ago … )

Which means it’ll all blow over pretty soon, particularly with Donald Trump enjoying throwing a verbal firecracker into the mix on a daily basis.

Seriously, when you look back at some of the most outrageous news stories that captivated the nation, some only a couple of years old, how faded they now seem: The three women held captive in a house for 10 years in Cleveland (2013), Edward Snowden (also 2013), the resignation of disgraced Penn State coach Joe Paterno, Super Storm Sandy, the introduction of Obamacare – all only 3 years ago! Add the death of Trayvon Martin and Clint Eastwood addressing an empty chair at the Republican National Convention … and, well, we’re pretty good at getting over things in a hurry.

Trust me, give it a couple of months, and people will be snapping their fingers at the water cooler in vain attempts to illicit a memory: “What was the name of that guy who shot that lion?”

“Mike Somebody?”

“No, the dentist.”

“Was he a dentist? I thought he was an attorney … ”

Just ask George Zimmerman.

Not to mention Anthony Weiner.

Reach PAM STONE at pammstone@gmail.com.

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