Here's the headline at the Associated Press's 12:49 p.m. report today on Steven Slater's plea bargain: "Attendant who slid on chute to fame pleads guilty." Earlier headlines had used the word "famous" (example here: "JetBlue attendant in famous meltdown pleads guilty").
For those who still care about what words mean, the primary meaning of "famous" is "having a widespread reputation, usually of a favorable nature; renowned; celebrated." Steven Slater is not "famous"; he is, or at least should be, "infamous" ("having an extremely bad reputation").
So continues "The Essential Global News Network's" strange fascination bordering on approbation of the flight attendant who, back in August, "went on the public-address system, swore at a passenger who he claimed treated him rudely, grabbed a beer and slid onto the tarmac" using an emergency slide.
Today's story by Colleen Long continues the trend (bolds are mine):
The JetBlue flight attendant whose job-quitting meltdown landed him in court avoided jail time in a plea deal Tuesday that requires him to undergo counseling and treatment for a least a year.
Steven Slater spoke politely and calmly as he entered a guilty plea to a charge of second-degree attempted criminal mischief, a felony, and a lesser charge of fourth-degree attempted criminal mischief.
"At the end of the day, I'm a grown-up and I must take responsibility for my actions," Slater said outside court. He thanked his attorney, prosecutors, his mother and his partner, and said the public interest in his case had surprised him.
Under the terms of the deal, Slater must undergo at least a year of counseling and substance-abuse treatment. If he completes the program to the judge's satisfaction, the top charge will dismissed, the misdemeanor will remain and he will be sentenced to a year of probation.
He must check in with the court periodically and could also have to pay restitution to JetBlue. If he does not fulfill the requirements, he will get one to three years in jail.
Slater's dramatic and unusual departure made him a cult hero to some. He was a topic on TV shows, on the front pages of newspapers and many cheered him for standing up to the inhospitable world of airline travel and for quitting his job so spectacularly.
... JetBlue told employees in a memo that press coverage was not taking into account how much harm can be caused by emergency slides, which are deployed with a potentially deadly amount of force.
District Attorney Richard Brown scolded Slater - and the public - for not taking his actions more seriously, noting it cost $25,000 to fix the slide and that the plane had to be taken out of service afterward, causing flight delays.
Slater's childish actions had adult consequences. That should be the message coming out of the Slater incident. Instead we have a subculture, for which AP writers seem strangely sympathetic, that seems to think the whole escapade was cute and made some sort of "statement" -- never mind its effects. The subculture is significant enough that Long notes the debut of "disgruntled airline employee or the angry steward" Halloween costumes.
Steven Hoffer at AOL.com brings up a more relevant and real-world matter: "The main question for Slater at this point may be whether he can land another job.
Given AP's odd and consistent sympathy for Slater, I'd suggest the that former JetBlue flight attendant start here.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.