I have a deep, dark secret that has been burdening my soul for a number of years now and it’s time to come clean and let the chips fall where they may. It is behavior I am clearly not proud of and I plan to spend the rest of my waking hours trying to make these wrongs right.
I have hurt the people who are closest to me, even though I am not close to them. I have similarly hurt the people I should have loved, though in all honesty I’ve never loved any of them.
I will reveal my utter shame over two evenings beginning tonight on either Dr. Phil, Dr. Laura or Dr. Oz, depending on which one of them makes the best offer for my full and complete confession.
I considered just going to my local parish priest, but my handlers would not be permitted in the confessional and they feared the penance I might be assigned would cut into my lifestyle. Besides, the priest must maintain a vow of silence about what I confessed, and that most certainly would not have served my purposes.
No, this is a big sin and it deserves a big stage, if only because I don’t want other young journalists to follow in my sinful shoes.
Yes, this is about journalism, and though I’m not supposed to, I’ll give you just a hint or two of what’s to come if you promise to tune in both tonight and tomorrow night for the full story.
OK, here goes. Please excuse me if my voice trails off and I have to clear my throat occasionally and wipe the fake tears from my eyes. This is going to be difficult, so bear with me.
You remember those seven straight Pulitzers I won for distinguished commentary? And all those book deals and six-figure speaking engagements and typewriter endorsements that allowed me to own my East Davis home free and clear?
And how I selflessly used some of my riches to establish and lend my golden name to the Bobstrong Foundation, whose mission is to always make me look like a “good guy” while providing special shoes for pigeon-toed young tennis players through our Heart and Sole program?
Get it, “heart and sole”? I thought of it myself. Hey, I can’t help it if my talent knows no bounds.
The Bobstrong Foundation has helped countless dozens of kids who were tired of being bullied simply because their feet faced inward when they walked. This, incidentally, is a condition I had to overcome on my own as a child, before there was a Bobstrong Foundation to help.
I spend several hours each year writing checks to the Bobstrong Foundation and doing public service announcements telling pigeon-toed kids they, too, can grow up to lead meaningful lives, just like me. And did I tell you I always sit in the front row at church on Sunday mornings?
Ah yes, the confession of my dirty deeds. I got so carried away with my accomplishments that I almost forgot. Or maybe I was just delaying the inevitable.
Well, those seven Pulitzers were won plain and simple through plagiarism. With help from my friends, I was able to tap into the confidential files of some of this nation’s top journalists, steal their best work, publish it before they did, and submit it to the Pulitzer judges as my own.
When these other writers accused me of plagiarism and said the Pulitzer Prize should rightfully be theirs, I sued them all and won. And kept the Pulitzers for myself. All seven of them. (Photo of me with Pulitzers available upon request for $50, 10 percent of which will go directly to the Bobstrong Foundation.)
I also made a very large gift to the Columbia School of Journalism that sponsors the Pulitzers, but that was simply out of the goodness of my cold, dark heart and should not in any way be considered a bribe.
I realize all seven journalists whose work I stole have “gone missing” for a number of years now. I know absolutely nothing about any of their disappearances or where their bodies might be buried, but I may have more to say about this when I’m certain the statute of limitations has expired.
I do plan to call the families of each missing journalist to express sincere condolences from the very depths of what passes as my heart.
Despite all of this, I hope against hope that when people think of me in the days and weeks and months ahead, they will remember not my purloined Pulitzers or those seven missing journalists, but instead will remember the Bobstrong Foundation and those several dozen formerly pigeon-toed kids I’ve helped along the way.
Yes, that is my legacy. Remember the children. And always be strong. Bobstrong.
— Reach Bob Dunning at firstname.lastname@example.org