THE RAPING OF ABC NEWS
all Ted would like to be, a newsman. And there is apparently no room for
newsmen these days in the rapacious network swirl of events...
Around 9:32 am, this
past Monday morning my publishers at BLAZO!! received a rather interesting
fax from the office of David Westin, president of ABC News. The thing
wasnt signed or even issued by Weston, who wouldnt know BLAZO!!
or me from a hole in his shoe, but there it was just the same.
It read... Mr. Reality Check, Disney is screwing us good this time.
By the time you read this everyone here at the Washington bureau of ABC
NEWS will be cleaning out our desks to make room for the sawdust and elephant
dung, because the circus is moving in. But not even that is entirely true,
because the circus has been moving in for some time. This is what network
news organizations get for allowing amusement park moguls to run the show.
And believe it, it is a show now; Paddy Chayefskys worst fears realized.
But instead of a broken down schizophrenic like Howard Beale ranting and
convulsing every night to the strains of a gospel organ beneath a circular
stained glass window, it is poor, dejected Ted Koppel forced to spill
his guts on the op ed page of the New York Times like a pathetic caller
to these afternoon talk shows that litter the landscape of radio these
days. Koppel is no "latter day prophet decrying the hypocrisy of
our times". No, he is a newsman. Thats all Ted would like to
be, a newsman. And there is apparently no room for newsmen these days
in the rapacious network swirl of events, even when that newsman outdraws
David Letterman and all his "young, hip audience."
But there really isnt any reason to weep for shows like Nightline
or even This Week, even though Cokie Roberts is being treating like a
crack whore by an establishment she has toiled under for 14 years. It
would not surprise any of us if by September; Peter Jennings is hosting
a variety show wherein celebrities spread feces over each other until
someone cracks. It will all be for charity of course. We like to mask
our dilution of standards with ice cream and good wishes here at the American
Broadcasting Company. Pretty
soon the news will be special reports from lollipop land hosted by Zsa
Zsa Gabore and Emo Philips while the rest of us "journalists"
are all sent to bag groceries or spit out futile columns in entertainment
weeklies like yourself.
Doom is in the air. One only has to breathe to taste it in the back of
the throat, where the last of the bile erupts to save the innards from
rotting. That is what is happening here, rotting. It is terrible to see.
Our accomplishments and credibility decays like a corpse in the desert
sun and we are helpless to stop it. I would cry, but my contract does
not allow it. Put this in your column if you have any guts. No one would
believe it, and in your case, that is an advantage. Sincerely, Distressed
Despite the pejorative references to my standing in the journalistic community
and its ludicrous inference to Letterman pulling in a "young and
hip" audience, it was, after all, ABC NEWS and so I was kind enough
to respond: Distressed, Do yourself a favor, please remove your miserable
head out of your ass and smell something rosier. Your news division has
been prostituting itself for over thirty years.
I too love Ted Koppel. If it werent damned by the Living God Id
drive right now to DC, wrap him in my arms and take him to the Watergate
for three days of forbidden passion, but Nightline is a show, funded by
ratings and advertising and network goons who couldnt name the first
ten presidents of the United States or locate Wyoming on a map with ten
chances and a tutor. You have sold your heart to rock and roll, and now
you whine like a schoolgirl? This is why you are all doomed. You have
not heeded the writing on the mens room stall. It has been there
for years. Nightline was born on the bloated coverage of the hostage crisis
in 1980. For the sake of all that is holy, I was a child then, and even
I could see the news exploitation of that mess. Where was Nightline when
the Iranian consulate was railroading Jimmy Carter, while William Casey
was negotiating a hostage release from the Ayatola Khomeyni? Trouble is
news doesnt bring the big numbers anymore, otherwise how could anyone
explain these infinite obsessions with Monica Lewinsky, O.J. Simpson and
Maybe you can convince Koppel to chair a panel show where inbreds beat
each other with tire irons or maybe he can join degenerate imbecilic couples
on blind dates and report on the wacky results? Cmon, could it be
any worse than hiring Dennis Miller to commentate on football games? Hey,
why dont you just swing the whole operation over to ESPN? Its
practically running the joint now. From what I understand theyre
going to send Sam Donaldson over there to baby sit Dick Vitale through
March Madness. The network can bill it as a freak show and throw a gimp
in there for halftime analysis. Cmon, could that be any worse than
having Bobby Knight on your tournament selection show? Its time
someone in your position makes a stand and wracks his brain for better
ways to disseminate information. These cable news shows are a wasteland
of yammering idiots who glean less than one percent of the consumer base.
Fifty-year-old "I Love Lucy" reruns out draws Bill OReilly
and this crazy fucker has a goddamn limo. And from what Im hearing
cable news is killing the networks. So even if you pray for another catastrophe
or for Gary Condit to kidnap another woman, you might as well get your
hackers license and chauffeur diplomats to Dulles for a healthy tip.
Heres one more piece of friendly advice: Its time Koppel ends
his thirty-plus year career at ABC by revealing that Michael Eisner tried
to rape him in the make-up trailer during the Republican convention. Then
he can smile like the Cheshire cat, flip America the bird and head off
to the California hills with an unlimited supply of Carona, a pair of
EZ-kill mortars, a mail-order bride and a box of Macanudos. And
tell him to wait for me. NEVER SURRENDER,
© James Campion March 2002
© James Campion
2002 'Mr Reality Check'
Previously by James
HOW THE APPLE WAS WON
KEN KESEY RIP
ISRAEL - Blinded by the light?
to James Campion articles