Last Updated: 9:04 AM, October 30, 2011
Posted: 6:12 PM, October 29, 2011
Nightly and daily newscasts have become satire-proof. The “you can’t make this stuff up” stuff never ends. Rain drops on roses, these are a few of my favorite (recent) things:
Last week WBTV, a CBS affiliate in Charlotte, NC, reported the fatal shooting of a local man following an argument. As the field reporter spoke on camera, this graphic, no fooling, appeared along the bottom of the screen:
“Man Killed To Death.”
Back up here, Ch. 5 News’s John Huddy’s Oct. 11 report from the Occupy Wall Street demonstration was, no fooling, a classic, as he was able to keep from laughing at the absurdity of what he reported.
After noting that the demonstrators against what they call the “1 percent rich” received a supportive visit from Russell Simmons and Kanye West, Huddy added, “By the way, West and Simmons rolled up in a $300,000 Maybach.”
West, incidentally, wore thick gold chains around his neck. Power to the people!
Last week the State Dept. issued a no-fooling advisory to Americans, warning them not to travel to India or risk being targets of increased anti-Western terrorism.
Two days later, all-news WCBS-AM carried ads for a travel agency claiming that there’s no better time to visit India.
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On one hand, CBS’s “60 Minutes” piece on Steve Jobs, last Sunday -- based on a new biography -- made for fascinating TV. Jobs was both genius and ruthless, a visionary with thoroughly backwards personal habits.
Biographer Walter Isaacson -- a former Time magazine editor turned noted historian whose 2003 “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life,” is loaded with fascinating material and superbly written -- provided the grist for this “60 Minutes” mill.
And yet it can’t be dismissed, ignored or excused that this presentation of CBS News served the CBS corporate fatherland as a start-to-finish commercial, a sales pitch. Isaacson’s Jobs biography -- what a coincidence -- is published by Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS, and was placed on sale the very next day.
The irrefutable fact is that “60 Minutes,” hailed in many places as the gold standard of broadcast journalism, for years has regularly served to peddle corporate goods, be they newly released books, TV shows and big-ticket financial partner products such as the NFL.
And the reverse-sell can be at work, too. Consider that only after CBS’s Olympic Games rights expired, lost to NBC, did 60 Minutes produce and present a piece telling an old, ugly story: That the Olympics are controlled by Spaniard Juan Antonio Samaranch, an unrepentant World War II fascist operative who allowed the Olympics to be scandalized by bribes while bestowing high honors -- in exchange for money -- on murderous Soviet bloc and Third World despots.
Funny, how “60 Minutes” wasn’t aware of that until after CBS no longer felt it had to make nice to Samaranch.
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Although the reverse mortgage business has grown to become infested with scam artists targeting the desperate elderly, celebs continue to sign on to star in come-on TV commercials. There’s Robert Wagner, Fred Thompson, Pat Boone and now, Henry “The Fonz” Winkler. Next up, Barbara Eden of “I Dream of Jeannie.”
Often, leaving an operator one’s phone number for a broker to call back with “more information” is an invite for harassing, day and night call-backs, accompanied by the stench of boiler room sells. Just sayin’.
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Monday’s Asbury Park Press reported that the Seaside Heights home in which episodes of MTV’s “Jersey Shore” were shot -- nothing much, a clapboard, cement-walled rectangle; Graceland it ain’t -- is renting for $2,500. That’s $2,500 a night.