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“Tabloid Nation” – Bio
Episode 15, Season 4, Release date: April 8, 2008
“Tabloid Nation” – Note
… just think for yourself …
… still relevant today, if not more …
… television stations just want the ratings …
… they manufacture division …
I remember the movie, “Network” by Paddy Chayefsky.
It depicted the extremes and perversities that television would resort to for the sake of ratings.
It was a film way ahead of its time, and yet now it seems dated given the depths to which television has sunk.
I doubt even Chayefsky could ever have imagined putting contestants on a program to eat worms or raw animal parts, or women humiliating themselves to marry fake millionaires.
One network made a deal for OJ Simpson to do a Prime Time Special on how he might have killed his ex-wife.
Television is a noble beast, isn’t it?
Well, the shame is it once was.
To many it still should be.
Television took us to the moon.
It let us cry together as a nation when a beloved president was assassinated.
Its unflinching and comprehensive coverage of Vietnam served to end that war.
Television gave us Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Rod Serling, Ernie Kovacs.
We had shows like The Defenders, All in the Family.
One could argue that the steep decline of TV began with a show called A Current Affair which introduced tabloid journalism.
There used to be standards of excellence in television.
I’m not talking only about Emmys and Peabodys, but not so long ago broadcasters had a real sense of responsibility.
They took their statutory obligation to operate in the public interest very seriously.
Now the networks look for our guilty pleasures and morbid curiosities and pander to those with the hope that they’ll get us addicted.
Once you get people hooked, you’ve got ’em!
And you have to get people hooked because everything today is ratings, demographics, market share, money.
Even the news divisions are now profit centers which means that if good-looking, white-toothed anchors have better TVQs than credentialed journalists, you get the eye-candy!
And if positive coverage of the war in Iraq reaches more households, you get Fox News.
In fact today you can switch back and forth between the right-wing news and the left-wing news.
Whatever happened to Huntley? Brinkley? John Chancellor?
To news that was just the news?
Now we have partisan junk appealing to the lowest common denominator which brings us currently to the program at issue, Dr Ray!
Mr. Palmer said his client couldn’t possibly have seen this coming.
Well, that simply isn’t true.
This tragedy was inevitable.
It’s practically scripted!
It’s happened before.
Talk show ambushes have gone awry leading to murder or suicide.
This isn’t a first.
But here’s what’s truly horrifying.
A tragedy occurred here, a woman was killed, but for the show – for the show – the real tragedy was that the killing didn’t happen on the show!
That would have been the ratings blockbuster.
That would have been the big score everybody was hoping for.
But they had to settle for the next best thing which was that the murder became news.
The nightly news was perfectly happy to do the job for them.
They gave Dr. Ray all the promotion it could possibly want airing sensational clips and graphics from the show again and again and again.
You see how it all works so beautifully together!
The girl was killed!
The show benefits!
The news benefits!
And we eat it up!
Psychologically damaged people are paraded on stage to be exploited, ridiculed, taunted.
Of course this is what we get!
And we stand to get a lot more of it because it sells.
And it costs almost nothing to produce.
And what’s not to love?
Here we have an emotionally unstable ex-boyfriend with a history of violence, armed with a marriage proposal certain to be rejected in front of the world.
And the fact that an innocent young woman ended up butchered was good business for all.
Well, so is a lawsuit.
The most memorable part of the movie Network was when Howard Beale started shouting on national television, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”
And the country joined in with him.
You need to join in now.
You need to go back to that room and say you’re not going to sit quietly and let these networks assault decency for profit.
You’re not going to stand for the exploitation of the disenfranchised.
You’re sick of the networks debasing a medium they’re supposed to be guardians of.
Don’t take it anymore.
Please. Please. Get mad as hell!
And don’t take it …