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"Scratching" Donny Deutsch: "Sometimes You Just Do Schmucky Things"

Written By mista sense on Sunday, May 18, 2008 | 3:05 AM

The Cable Gamer has never really had an opinion on Donny Deutsch's show on show on CNBC, mostly because I have only watched it a few times.

And now, I see from Jeff Bercovici that no one else is watching, either. In fact, the show "scratches" sometimes--that is, falls below the threshhold for a Nielsen rating.

But Deutsch is actually more interesting than his show--in a bad way. I followed a link from Jeff's Portfolio this article in The Pennsylvania Gazette, the Penn alumni magazine, which suggests that Deutsch has political ambitions, but seems to be more likely to be on the receiving end of a sex-harassment lawsuit than occupying Gracie Mansion.

Author Jordana Horn did even more damage to whatever political hopes Deutsch might have had. As such her article might be compared to the demolition job that Mark Leibovich performed on MSNBC's Chris Matthews last month with that piece in The New York Times Magazine, which eliminated any chance that Matthews would run for Senate in Pennsylvania in 2010--or anytime thereafter.

But in point of fact, Deutsch gave Horn a lot of material to work with--even more than Matthews gave Leibovich. Here's some verbatim:

It is at this point that I notice, looking up from my notepad, that Deutsch is unbuttoning his shirt.

“You’re gonna have to watch me take my shirt off, because I have to change, all right?” he says. He stands up and finishes unbuttoning his shirt, facing me and sliding it off to reveal a bare chest and a not-bad set of abs for a 50-year-old guy. It’s clear that he’s aware that it’s a not-bad set of abs—perhaps more than a little aware.

“This isn’t part of the story,” he says perfunctorily, but immediately follows up by saying, “Oh, you can mention it. I did it in advertising once—I ripped my shirt off in front of a reporter and told her I had the best body in advertising.” He grins sardonically. “I can no longer make that statement.”

I want to tell him, I know you did. I’ve read your book, Often Wrong, Never In Doubt: Unleash the Business Rebel Within (2005). I recall one chapter devoted entirely to the incident when he took off his shirt in front of an Ad Age reporter in 2002 (noting “It didn’t hurt that the reporter was a woman”), and she reported it straight, rather than as the tongue-in-cheek move he’d intended. The title of that chapter—and I reconfirm it when I get home—is “The Big-Shadow Principle: Why taking your shirt off for the press is a really bad idea.”

In that chapter (on page 234), he had written, “I should have known there’s a difference between taking my shirt off among friends and colleagues and doing it in front of a reporter. Sometimes candidness, a certain goofball lunacy, a willingness to let people into your world and have some fun, just backfires. It certainly did this time.” The chapter concludes, “Sometimes, you’re a wise guy and it backfires on you. Sometimes you just do schmucky things.”

"Sometimes you just do schmucky things." Horn reports, you decide.

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