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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Coverage of Sheen Lowers the Bar

The media blitz performed by Charlie Sheen this week has to be a new all time low for what’s left of journalism. The man is likely self-destructing before our eyes, and the network executives can’t wait to televise it for all the world to see.

Why?

There’s nothing newsworthy about a man going on a binge of drugs and hookers. It’s considered news because he’s on TV. We all get that these days. But this is going further than the latest accepted norm.

He’s not just on TMZ or Entertainment Tonight. Supposedly respected news shows like Today and 20/20 are televising whatever this ultimately turns out to be. His demise? Breakdown?

I saw a clip of the guy doing an interview in the dark in front of his house – a sit down interview. Was that supposed to give the situation some sort of sense of urgency? There’s also video of his kids being taken away on the news.

Sheen has made comments suggesting that he will be focused on getting his kids back. His first act in this important fight was . . . to start a Twitter account.

At least he’s taking his troubles seriously.

Of course, the answer to “why is this being televised?” is that people will watch. But shouldn’t we expect more from our sources of news? People would watch porn if NBC and ABC made it available, but they don’t. I’d like to think they don’t show pornography for reasons other than the fact that it would be illegal.

Charlie Sheen is some guy on a sitcom, Two-and-a-Half Men. A top rated sitcom, if it matters, but nonetheless it’s a sitcom. It also happens to be nothing more than one smartass comment after the other. The most intriguing thing about the show may be that Sheen’s character is a lot like Sheen.

My point is that we’re not talking about the President of the United States. There is no public concern in this matter beyond the possibility of a TV show being cancelled.

Let tabloid TV cover it 24 hours a day. But mainstream news has to be about more than ratings.

First of all, no one is disputing that at best Sheen is recovering from some major drug use. He doesn’t even approach a person with any credibility. Interviewing him now calls into question the credibility of every person, network, and news organization involved.

Secondly, these are the same people who are supposed to be the Fourth Estate. I don’t know about anyone else, but I certainly don’t ever need to hear the segue between stories of Sheen claiming that he no longer wants to deny he’s a bitchin’ rock star from Mars to a story on the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. I don’t need the same airheads covering Sheen doing investigative reporting on government corruption or offering me commentary on the economy.

None of us need that.

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