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Daniel Ruth, Times Columnist

Daniel Ruth

Daniel Ruth has been scribbling away for four decades as a reporter, film critic, television critic and columnist for the Tampa Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Tampa Bay Times. He also has worked as a radio talk show host as well as an adjunct professor for the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa and Columbia College in Chicago. Daniel is a Peter Lisagor Award recipient for his columns in Chicago and has been honored by the Pinellas County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union with the Irene Miller Vigilance In Journalism Award.


  1. Ruth: Imagine Oprah taking on the Donald in 2020


    In 1985 when I was a general assignment reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, I was dispatched to the Northwestern University campus to interview Leo Buscaglia, who was then a famous self-help guru known for hugging anyone within arm's reach.

    Buscaglia had been invited to be a guest on a Chicago-based talk show hosted by an up-and-coming personality — Oprah Winfrey.

    After the show, Buscaglia tried to hug me, too. I suggested a simple handshake would work better. Later, Winfrey and I walked along the campus looking out onto Lake Michigan. She was funny, curious-minded and, at one point, took an interest in my black loafers, even running her fingers over the leather. Odd perhaps, but hardly an Access Hollywood moment....

  2. Ruth: On oil drilling, Scott's environmental epiphany is welcome


    Everybody calm down. Nothing to fret about. After all Gov. Rick Scott, the Jacques Cousteau of Tallahassee, answered the call to action to protect the state's precious environment against the federal government's ill-considered plan to risk turning Florida's coastline into the Exxon Valdez meets Deepwater Horizon.

    The Trump administration announced plans last week to grant more drilling leases in areas along both coastlines. And would you like a side order of sludge to go with that red snapper? Yummers....

  3. Daniel Ruth: It wasn't a bobcat in that apartment after all, but who'd be surprised if it were?


    C'mon now, admit it. When you first heard the story of a contractor claiming he had been mauled by a, ahem, bobcat in the Skypoint condominium in the middle of downtown Tampa, you might well have thought to yourself, "Well, yeah, that could have happened."

    This is Florida after all, the epicenter of national weirdness.

    Sure, in a state where it has been known for people to have pet pythons and cobras, even though they are lousy at fetching frisbees, why wouldn't it be possible for someone to want to co-habitate with a wild, untamed bobcat? What way big fun. I hear wild boars are a delight to have around the house, too. They come in handy during truffle season....

  4. Daniel Ruth: Where do I sign up to get paid what Outback Bowl chief makes?


    This has been a miserable failure.

    For the several days since the Tampa Bay Times' Richard Danielson reported that Outback Bowl president and CEO Jim McVay earns a salary of — you might want to sit down and swallow that last sip of coffee to avoid a spit-take — $993,000, I've been trying to work up a healthy dose of outrage.

    After all, McVay makes more than University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft and the CEOs of Port Tampa Bay and Tampa International Airport, three entities that employ gobs of people and are all huge engines of economic impact throughout not only the city of Tampa but the region as well....

  5. Ruth: For a new grandson, it's the little things that count


    Hong Kong is a vast, cosmopolitan city of some 8 million people. But for all its sophistication and reputation as an international financial center, it seems to have a critical shortage of, ahem, butt paste.

    Who knew?

    For weeks now the Bombshell of the Balkans, otherwise newly known as YiaYia, has been feverishly preparing to visit 1-month-old Nathan in Hong Kong. Oh, and his parents, too....

  6. Ruth: Scott's election-year transformation from miser to spendthrift


    As a new year dawns, the Florida Legislature, otherwise known as an open bar of lounge lizards, is preparing to open its annual legislative session next week. Cue the Love Boat theme.

    Given the Legislature's recent portrayal as a den of groping, leering men who can't keep their hands to themselves, it would seem the first order of business should be hiring chaperones. Dream on.

    Perhaps House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron could retain the services of retired nuns armed with rulers to patrol the halls of government. It's just a suggestion....

  7. Ruth: A Trump tweet doesn't make DeSantis Florida's gubernatorial front-runner


    Trying to understand why politicians do what they do is something of a combination of anthropology, psychology and no small amount of befuddled head-scratching.

    Take the curious case of U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Who? Me?, who received a ringing endorsement from President Donald Trump to become Florida's next governor in 2018.

    Shortly after landing in Palm Beach to spend Christmas at his Mar-a-Lago estate, Trump tweeted that DeSantis would make a "GREAT Governor of Florida," and, oh by the way, he is also "a true FIGHTER!" All those caps. So it must be true....

  8. Daniel Ruth: Tampa takes a while to realize its potential, but 2018 looks promising


    Ever since the city of Tampa was incorporated in 1855 during the first term of Mayor Dick Greco, our little hamlet has evolved and morphed and redefined itself.

    And it continues to do so to this day.

    When I first arrived here in 1973, Tampa was a gritty, bump and a beer, blue collar place. Indeed, what is now considered tony Harbor Island real estate in those old days was merely a scraggly spit of a landfill called Seddon Island. Who knew it had such potential, or even cared?...

  9. Ruth: Latvala's departure a lesson for other legislators


    We'll get to the all the sleazy, tawdry, boorish sexual stuff in just a moment. But first let us ponder the doughnut episode.

    Had soon-to-be-former Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Krispy Kreme, realized his improbable dream of getting elected governor, some guy on Florida's death row might have had his execution warrant signed because the chief executive of the state was having a fit over not getting his daily doughnut fix that morning....

  10. Ruth: Corcoran raises big money for expensive tastes


    You might say Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Tammany Hall, is … ahem, a high-maintenance date.

    Sure, Corcoran is more ethically challenged than Charles Dickens' Fagin, as he presides over Tallahassee's Artful Sammy Glicks in the endless pursuit of power and money. But the Daddy Warbucks of the capital doesn't come cheap.

    The Tampa Bay Times' Adam C. Smith and Eli Zhang reported on the rather sumptuous lifestyle that fell into Corcoran's expanding lap as he achieved the high and exalted position of House speaker. All bow and scrape....

  11. A columnist's lament: How little a kids book author writes for how much he makes


    One more day to go as we celebrate Yuletide car sales, Santa hyping holiday carpet sales, and of course, in the spirit of humanity and love for all, that always warm feeling of anticipating the arrival of next month's bills.

    Joy to the world.

    "Are you Christmas shopping?" the young lady asked as she attempted to shove some miracle goop into my hand.

    I was tempted to reply that no, I was not Christmas shopping at all. I just like to stroll about crowded malls this time of year carrying around shopping bags. Christmas shopping? Whatever would have given her such a crazy idea?...

  12. Ruth: The CDC's seven dirty words


    Do you suspect the paper-pushers who run the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were channeling their inner George Carlin? You're $@!^&$ right they were!

    Years ago, the late comedian delivered a brilliant routine on the seven dirty words you're not allowed to utter in polite company, or on the airwaves, or in a family newspaper. If you've ever spent time on a golf course, you've probably heard them all before you got to the first green....

  13. Ruth: Congress should find money for Children's Health Insurance Program


    You would think even the Maynard G. Krebs characters in Congress who do little actual work would come to the assistance of nearly 9 million children on the cusp of losing their health coverage.

    Perhaps that's not entirely fair. After all, this Congress has been ever diligent in sticking it to the poor and the middle class to protect the portfolios of the affluent. Yachts don't grow on trees, you know. Priorities....

  14. Daniel Ruth: Buckhorn stood with good ol' boys as firefighter proved city harassed her


    They tried to shut her up. They tried to make her go away. They made her life miserable. Yet Tanja Vidovic — persisted.

    Long before most people had ever heard of the knuckle-dragging sexually harassing escapades of oafs like Harvey Weinstein, or Roy Moore, or Matt Lauer, the 36-year-old Vidovic was doing battle with the misogynistic good old boys at the Tampa Fire Rescue Department, who saw her not as a dedicated professional first responder but merely a nagging trouble-maker....

  15. Ruth: Legislation turns crime victims into criminals


    We have entered into the period shortly before the start of the 2018 Florida legislative session that might be described as Daffy Time in Tallahassee.

    This is that golden moment when state legislators endeavor to file bills that are, well, plainly goofy.

    For example, Sen. Greg Steube, R-Do You Feel Lucky? Well Do Ya, Punk?, is known for introducing so many gun bills every year he won't be happy until the entire state looks like a Rambo family reunion....