Make us your home page

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. Dan Ruth: 'Interpreter' did Tampa no favors


    Let us be perfectly clear. Or perhaps not.

    This was supposed to be a sort of moment of triumph for Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, who was given the top job full-time while in the tense investigation to solve the serial killer murders of four people in Seminole Heights.

    Instead Dugan unwittingly became a prop in a Tampa version of the old "Saturday Night Live" news for the hearing impaired sketch in which interpreter Garrett Morris screams out the headlines delivered by Chevy Chase....

  2. Ruth: Corrine Brown's ignominious fall from grace


    This is a cautionary tale of how to go from a civil rights icon to a civil rights huckster.

    You may have heard the old axiom that we all have a price — it's only a matter of negotiation. In former Democratic U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown's case, the going rate for her reputation and historic status as one of the first African-Americans elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction was about $800,000....

  3. Ruth: A ray of hope as a new grandfather


    There is a line often attributed to an unknown Chinese source: "May you live in interesting times."

    And we do.

    A very strange man lives in the White House. Another scary guy far away plays with nuclear missiles as if they were sparklers. The Arctic is melting. Oh, and Congress is in session. Oh boy. No good is likely to come from any of this.

    It is easy to fall into a cynical malaise from all the headlines of men behaving badly, ethnic cleansing and an endless cycle of war. ...

  4. Dan Ruth: Time is ripe, Democrats may not be


    If you are a Hillsborough County Democrat you are probably licking your chops like a lion spying a lost Bichon Frise.

    The country is presided over by John Belushi's Bluto Blutarsky in Animal House. Alabama is poised to elect to the U.S. Senate a Republican accused of pedophilia. And Florida is governed by a bloodless motherboard.

    True, Democrats certainly have their own baskets of deplorables. But as the 2018 midterm elections loom, one could make a reasonable argument this might not be the greatest year for GOP electoral success — particularly here in Hillsborough County....

    Times Columnist Dan Ruth. [Times file]
  5. Ruth: Classrooms need some controversy for learning


    Thanks to those dunces in the Florida Legislature, the state's public education system, which has never been confused with the Age of Enlightenment, could be slipping toward becoming a tower of drivel.

    Earlier this year, Tallahassee passed a bill that would allow any citizen of the state to challenge any public school educational material as pornographic, biased, inaccurate or a violation of state law and be granted a hearing before an outside mediator....

  6. Daniel Ruth: The F-35 is a turkey in the air, when it actually gets there


    If this had been a slightly addled elderly man at the end of the bar deep into his third martini pontificating about America's latest newfangled secret weapon — an invisible jet fighter instilling fear into our evildoing enemies — well, you could simply buy him another round and sit back to enjoy the absurdity of it all.

    Alas, however, this was President Donald Trump a few days ago telling a captive audience of U.S. Coast Guardsmen: "Do you like the F-35? I said how does it do in fights, and how do they do in fights with the F-35? He said they do very well, you can't see it. Literally you can't see. It's hard to fight a plane you can't see, right?"...

    Nearly 20 years in development, the F-35 has managed to carpet-bomb the federal budget.
  7. Ruth: Florida foolishly makes it harder to see nursing home inspections


    Florida's once vaunted reputation as the Sunshine State, a leader in open government, providing the citizenry broad, unfettered access to public meetings and records, is becoming increasingly dreary and overcast with a better than average chance of tyranny.

    There are few crises a family faces that are more gut-wrenching than making the painful decision to place a loved one in a nursing home. And now the state of Florida has made that already difficult prospect even more daunting — and dangerous....

  8. Daniel Ruth: An honest committee name? Floridians for a Greater Steaming Pile of Political Phooey


    There's a great scene in A Man For All Seasons when Sir Thomas More, on trial for refusing to express his loyalty to King Henry VIII, confronts one of his accusers who has just delivered false testimony against him in return for a royal title.

    "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world ... but for Wales?" More asks.

    On a somewhat more modest scale the same question might be poised to Lawrence McClure, the victor in last month's nasty Republican primary to represent state House District 58. Why Lawrence, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world ... but for Plant City?...

    Republican Lawrence McClure has denied any connection with a negative mailing campaign in his successful bid for his party's nomination to the District 58 state House seat. [Times file]
  9. Ruth: Would high-speed rail have reduced traffic deaths on I-4?


    Ah, just in time for the Thanksgiving travel season, Florida has once again achieved national prominence. We're No. 1 — with a body bag! Can't you feel the pride swelling?

    A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that Interstate 4 is the most deadly roadway from sea to shining sea. Although I-4 is among the shortest interstates in the country at a mere 132 miles from Tampa to Daytona Beach, it more than holds its own as a ribbon of vehicular mayhem....

    Traffic is seen along Interstate 4 in the Champions Gate area near Orlando. The 132-mile road, which stretches from Tampa to Daytona Beach, tops the list  of most dangerous highways since 2010, according to an analysis by EverQuote.   [CHRIS URSO | Times]
  10. Daniel Ruth: If you're the transit boss, fleeing Tampa for Pittsburgh is a no-brainer


    Hillsborough County, Florida and Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, have almost identical populations of about 1.3 million people. But when it comes to issues such as public transportation the two communities couldn't be more diametrically opposite from one another.

    Or think of Hillsborough as Dogpatch to Allegheny's Brigadoon.

    And perhaps that explains just a bit why when Katharine Eagan, the CEO of the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, was offered the opportunity to move to Pittsburgh to assume the leadership the Port Authority of Allegheny County, she couldn't pack her bags fast enough for the chance to oversee the transit needs of a big-boy-pants community....

    Pittsburgh gets idyllic treatment in this photo of its skyline at night. Users and advocates of public transit would find the city idyllic, too, at least compared to Tampa. [Associated Press, 2012]
  11. Ruth: Don't wrap this unqualified nominee in a black robe


    First as a candidate and then during his transition to the presidency, Donald Trump repeatedly boasted that his administration would be filled to the gills with nothing but the "best people." Now there's some genuine fake news for you.

    Or consider this. As of 2016, the American Bar Association reported there are 1,315,561 licensed lawyers in the United States. Yes, that is an awful lot of ipsos and factos....

    Federal judicial nominee Brett J. Talley was unanimously rated “not qualified” by the ABA.
  12. Ruth: Women accusing Latvala of harassment should come forward


    It's been a rough few days for Sen. Jack Latvala, the Clearwater Republican who is also (for the moment, at least) a candidate for governor.

    A week or so ago, Latvala was a gruff-talking curmudgeon of the Florida Legislature, attempting to parlay his "tell it like it is" persona into the Governor's Mansion.

    And then it all came crashing down around his Falstaffian shoulders, beginning with the release of a photograph of the senator kissing a lobbyist in the parking lot of an Italian restaurant. Latvala attempted to dismiss the photo by arguing the lobbyist was a dear old platonic friend, as if it is quite normal for a married man to plant a buss on another woman. Perhaps it is an old Clearwater custom....

    Senate President Joe Negron, right, has appointed a third-party investigator to look into allegations against Sen. Jack Latvala.
  13. Ruth: Shocked, shocked by Brazile book revelations


    Here's a fast-breaking political bombshell for you.

    According to a new book by former Democratic National Committee interim chairwoman Donna Brazile, the fix was in last year to scuttle any hope Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had of winning the party's presidential nomination.

    No! Really! It's true!

    You may now go back to sleep.

    As earth-shattering scoops go, revelations the DNC laid an anvil on the scales of fairness to benefit former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Sanders ranks somewhere between who won the World Series and what color is an orange....

    Donna Brazile’s memoir, Hacks, came out this week.
  14. Ruth: Prayers are not enough to stop gun violence


    What's important to keep in mind here is everybody is really, really sorry about the murders of 26 church parishioners in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

    Everybody is shocked and grief-stricken.

    We know this because so many public officials have, in no uncertain terms, expressed profound sympathy for the victims, the wounded and their decimated families.

    From Asia, President Donald Trump has reached out the Sutherland Springs victims by extending his heartfelt "thoughts and prayers."...

    An investigator works Monday in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where a gunman killed 26 people.
  15. Ruth: Sex, spies and intrigue in Tallahassee


    There's an old joke that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger used to tell on himself.

    Before the election of President Richard Nixon in 1968, Kissinger was regarded as merely a frumpy, rumpled Harvard University professor with an almost unintelligible German accent.

    And then, as if by magic, once he joined the Nixon administration as national security adviser Kissinger found himself transformed into a Potomac stud muffin dating the likes of Jill St. John. No doubt his sexy views on the Marshall Plan proved to be irresistible to women....

    The state capital is a Peyton Place of the Apalachee Parkway.