In case you’ve been on another planet, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies stopped actor/producer Mel Gibson’s Lexus at 2:36 a.m. last Friday going 87 in a 45 mph zone on the Malibu highway. Gibson had an open bottle of tequila on the front seat. He apparently attempted to escape, made anti-Semitic and obscene remarks, swung from the bars of his cell, and boasted that he owned Malibu and would f**k the arresting officers.
The story of Gibson’s DUI bust, first broken by the celeb-watch website tmz.com, scored more than four thousand hits in Google’s index to the world press. Gibson produced and directed the controversial religious blockbuster Passion of the Christ, which made him very rich. Many critics at the time objected to what they saw as the film’s anti-Semitic message. That background, plus the current Mideast conflagration, made Gibson’s drunken tirade newsworthy. After he sobered up and huddled with his agent and his PR people, Gibson issued an apology and checked himself into rehab.
When I entered “Mel Gibson Alcoholics Anonymous” in Google’s News search a moment ago, up came a mere 49 hits. ABC News reported that one of Gibson’s neighbors in Malibu, Chris Prentiss, said that “The center that I’ve heard he’s checked himself into follows the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program. And I don’t believe that will help him.” Prentiss owns a competing celebrity treatment center. The Chicago Sun-Times, the Philadelphia Daily News, and the Boston Globe carried the same bit.
The Los Angeles Times has so far been the only American print source to dig a little deeper. In a July 31 story, staff writers Robert Welkos and John Horn say, “One source said the star had already begun rehabilitation, noting that Gibson had long been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.” Source. In other words, it appears that Gibson is not just beginning to attend AA, he is a long time AA member experiencing a spectacular relapse.
Print media outside the U.S. have been much less delicate in handling Gibson’s long time AA membership. Compare the Glasgow Daily Record’s coverage: