Monday, February 26, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith: The Real Mystery

I haven't counted the number of channels we have on TV. Let's say there's about fifty. At least twenty of them at some point during the day are covering stories about Anna Nicole Smith. To be honest, there isn't much on the other thirty channels so I've been reading a lot lately when I'm not working on Donkey Path. My wife, on the other hand, has been determined at times to find something watchable, anything but Anna Nicole Smith, which means I subliminally hear some part of Anna Nicole Smith's name about thirty or forty times almost every evening as the channels fly by. It's like when President Bush gives a major speech: you surf through twenty channels and Bush is still telling us to trust him and how hard his job is and, for the thirteenth time, how victory is just around the corner.

You figure the networks and cable news people have been showing a lot of Anna Nicole Smith because they make money on the story. Or do they? Here's a survey from the Rasmussen Report:
Americans have had enough—more than enough—of news stories about Anna Nicole Smith. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 85% of American adults believe the media has paid too much attention to the story of her death. Just 2% think more coverage is appropriate.

Either a lot of people are lying to the pollsters or the media is working hard to avoid bringing us the news. And thanks to the coverage, poor Anna Nicole Smith is more famous than ever. It's a real mystery that leaving a lot of people scratching their heads.

That's America on February 26, 2007. Have a good night.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Amen, brother, and pass the channel zapper.

This has been another slimy exercise in scandalmongering for ease, fun and profit from the start. The cable news channels will never get over their salad days of the OJ Simpson debacle.

After getting a lot of bad press (newspapers generally aren't milking this story as much) and viewer feedback about their wanton exploitation of previous celeb scandals, CNN's Wolf Blitzer and intrepid newswatching nerd Howard Whatzhisname have issued what is becoming a stock defense.

Supposedly, they do instant-reaction checks and find viewership increases when they're engaging in wild sensationalism overkill.

I don't believe they're always completely honest about this. I think they've been handed some sharp viewer rebukes, in the form of lagging ratings, especially in the cases of Natalie Holloway and Anderson Cooper's outrageous campaign to parlay an incident in which a New Orleans man was treated with excessive roughness by police into a major national scandal, a la the Rodney King beating incident in L.A. Neither of these gained that much traction with viewers, especially Cooper's brain-dead bid to exploit a potential scandal.

That's not to say these unfortunate incidents lacked any news value. It is to say neither had enough actual news content to rate anything like the coverage CNN and other cable networks gave them.

I don't think they will ever stop or even lighten up. These things are cheap, provide endless fodder for mind-numbing talk segments and keep Rita Cosby, Anderson Cooper, et al, off the streets.

I just wish Ed Murrow's ghost would haunt their dreams and trouble their consciences — assuming they have both.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

S.W., I haven't much to say on Anderson Cooper except to say that he still feels like a field reporter to me. But I miss Aaron Brown. He was the only anchor on CNN worth watching.

Edward R. Murrow is a model too many network types have forgotten and it's to our nation's detriment.

5:14 PM  

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