Michael Steele's Sis Jumps Into the Ring

ormer heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson and his wife Monica Turner
Monica Turner in 1998, when she was Mrs. Mike Tyson. (Eric Gaillard -- Reuters)

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Friday, November 3, 2006

After Michael J. Fox filmed an ad for Maryland Democratic senatorial candidate Ben Cardin showing the stark effects of the actor's Parkinson's disease, Republican opponent Michael Steele responded via his sister, Monica Turner -- with a TV spot in which she revealed, for the first time publicly, that she has multiple sclerosis.

The ad surprised in other ways: Steele's little sis, 40, has always tried to maintain a low profile, even during her much-scrutinized marriage to former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson . (The two divorced in 2003 after six years and two children but remain friendly.) She had stayed largely out of the spotlight during her brother's political campaigns, other than last month hosting a birthday fundraiser for him at her spacious Bethesda home.

But she told us she decided to become a face of the campaign after seeing Fox's ads, which she claims misrepresents her brother's position on stem-cell research. "I was like, 'Wait a minute!' " Her 30-second spot began airing last week a day after she taped it. In the last days of the 2002 campaign, she recorded a 30-second radio ad for her brother.

The U-Va. grad and Georgetown-trained pediatrician told us she was diagnosed 2 1/2 years ago with MS, an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system for which researchers are also seeking stem-cell therapies.

Turner appears healthy in the television ads. "I have very mild symptoms," she said, adding that she was lucky to have her illness detected and treated early. "But of course this is a progressive disease. I don't know what the future holds. I'm doing everything I can to remain healthy and happy."

Steele has said he supports the use of adult stem cells but opposes any research that destroys human embryos. He also supports embryonic research that extracts cells without destroying embryos, though many researchers say that remains impractical. Turner, though, says she has high hopes for adult stem-cell research -- and, despite the polls, for her brother's prospects on Tuesday: "I absolutely think he's going to win."

A Rare Suit in Blog-land, Where There's Lotsa Gossip, Little Cash

Of all the legal questions raised by former Hill staffer Robert Steinbuch 's lawsuit against his sex-blogger ex Jessica Cutler , perhaps the most fascinating is, why aren't these darned bloggers getting sued all the time ? Heck, if we printed a fraction of the wild, unchecked, often untrue rumors they do, we'd spend all our time in court!

Yet when a judge this week let Steinbuch add as a defendant former Wonkette.com editor Ana Marie Cox (who first promoted Cutler's "Washingtonienne" blog), it was the first time Wonkette's owner, gossip-blog giant Gawker Media, has been sued, albeit indirectly. (If you don't count the suit Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst filed last year and then quickly dropped, over the airing of a private sex video.)

Experts say there have been few suits filed against online gossip purveyors. Why? In part because there's too much gossip to keep up with, said Baltimore lawyer William McDaniel , who once sued Matt Drudge on behalf of Sidney Blumenthal (who settled without recovering damages). "It's hard for people to know what's being said" out in the vast blogosphere. Another reason, said local media-law expert Bruce Brown : "Many people who run blogs don't have the deep pockets that a plaintiff's lawyer would typically look to."

Steinbuch's lawyer didn't respond to questions on why he didn't directly sue Gawker, which draws a tidy profit on ad sales. "If this case is successful," said GWU law professor Daniel Solove , "more people might decide to sue."

'Hot 99.5' Morning Team Gets a Rude Awakening From Clear Channel

Mark Kaye knew things were getting sticky in contract talks, but he didn't know it would come to this. On Wednesday, the suits at Clear Channel told him and partner Kris Gamble that their popular 99.5 FM "Hot Morning Mess" show was no more.

Kaye and program director Jeff Kapugi gave the same explanation: "It's a business decision." Which is to say, it's all about money. The duo took the station from No. 11 to No. 1 among young female listeners since starting in '01 -- which means they were due for a raise, Kaye told our colleague Paul Farhi. "I imagine they figured the new guy [ Kane , a deejay outta Tampa] would be more cost-effective. You know, one salary instead of two."

Many listeners thought Kaye, 32, and Gamble, 38, were married, on account of their on-air chemistry. They're not, though they plan to stay a team wherever they land next. It's a delicate time for both: Kaye and his wife just had a baby; Gamble just had back surgery. "I'm not angry, I'm not bitter," said Kaye -- but they will greet their fans at a Starbucks near WIHT's Rockville studio this morning.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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