WAS IT SHODDY journalism or environmentally sensitive journalism?
NBC News is taking heat from the Society of Professional Journalists for flying a New Jersey man and his son back from Brazil on the network's dime after it covered the man's nasty custody battle in that country.
NBC countered that it had already chartered the jet to bring staffers home for the holidays. We might add, what's the harm in reducing the carbon footprint by filling a few more seats? Surely that's what the Peacock honchos were thinking.
David Goldman, who successfully fought the Brazilian family of his now-deceased ex-wife for custody of 9-year-old Sean, was interviewed by Meredith Vieira of NBC's "Today" show on Monday.
NBC said that Goldman was booked for "Today" before the plane ride. A network spokeswoman pointed out that NBC told viewers that it had paid for the trip and, anyway, if they hadn't brought the Goldmans back, surely one of their competitors would have.
But how about the interview on "Nightly News" featuring correspondent Jeff Rossen talking with Goldman on the plane?
So, there you are, 35,000 or so feet in the air, and a reporter for the network that's paying your way saunters over for a sound bite. Maybe there's more than a little pressure to smile for the camera?
"Paying for access taints the credibility and neutrality of what you are doing," said Andy Schotz, chairman of the SPJ ethics committee. "There is now a motive for people to be helping you, to be telling you what you want to hear."
They don't want you to lose their luggage.
A Lil jail time
Say bon voyage to rapper Lil Wayne.
Wayne, aka Dwayne Carter, pleaded guilty in October to a weapons-possession charge and has made a plea deal that calls for a one-year jail term. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 9.
Jail's something of a rapper career move, but Wayne's looking at a lot of legal bills. Seems like every time his tour bus slows down, authorities find drugs or a gun inside.
The artist performed in his hometown of New Orleans Monday on what he's calling his farewell tour. "I'm nothing without you," he said as the crowd at the New Orleans Arena screamed its approval of the concert-opening song, "A Milli," last year's Grammy winner for best rap solo.
The charge stemmed from a 2007 traffic stop of his tour bus in New York after authorities said that they smelled marijuana. A loaded .40-caliber handgun was found. A March trial has been set on felony drug and weapons charges in Yuma County, Ariz. And authorities in Texas are pondering their next step after pot was found on two tour buses.
Lil Wayne's next album, "Rebirth," drops Feb. 1. After New Orleans, he is scheduled for a few dates in Texas and another in southern Louisiana.
Too bad, Roman
You're a world-famous director and convicted pedophile who's under house arrest in Switzerland, waiting to be extradited back to the United States where you'll finally serve your sentence after decades on the lam.
And you're annoyed that photographers want to take your picture?
That's Roman Polanski, evidently so uncomfortable on the other end of the lens that he's suing journalists stationed outside his chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland, for more than $1 million for invading his privacy.
Which is even more ironic, considering that the sordid child-abuse incident that Polanski's convicted of started with him taking pictures of a 13-year-old girl.
Polanski filed his suit in France, where he has lived for many years. You remember France, the country that loved notorious Philly murderer Ira Einhorn back when he hid there from local authorities for years.
Switzerland will decide whether or not to extradite Polanski to the United States in January, and his privacy case will be held in Paris on Jan. 12.
Taylor-made no more
Young love is an ephemeral thing, and so it goes that country superstar Taylor Swift and rising actor Taylor Lautner have split up. And, like, maybe they never were even really, you know, together?
Young female hearts worldwide collectively lightened as sources revealed to People that Swiftner or Lautift or T-squared or whatever their supposed hookup was tagged, "was never a big deal to begin with. . . . They went out on a few dates and realized this was just not going anywhere."
The pair met on the set of the romantic comedy "Valentine's Day" and very publicly dated - or not - for about three months.
Some say that he liked her more than she liked him. Which is just as it should be.
Van's new man
Irish singer Van Morrison is a father again at 64, his Web site revealed. Son George Ivan Morrison III was born to Morrison and wife, GiGi, on Monday. The baby is a dual citizen of the United States and Britain, but no other information was released.