Friday, August 22, 2008

Graceless and clueless: Tragedy for yuks and profit

Stephen King recently wrote an article for Entertainment Weekly bemoaning the fact that corporate greed, via televised broadcasts, has ruined baseball. He makes a strong case. However, an even more disturbing trend is taking place with greed trumping good: tragedy as entertainment.

Of course, this is nothing new in the world of televised news. We've all heard the journalism adage "If it bleeds, it leads." And none of us are strangers to the world of sensational news as instant commodities. We had the "runaway bride," who inspired an action figure and collectible cards. We had the "Don't tase me, bro" college student, who saw his plea for help turned into a tagline slapped on t-shirts, coffee mugs and bumper stickers. We even have trading cards of serial killers.

But the video below crosses a line of taste, tact and decency. Sadly, this is a video from CNN, which is quickly following in the footsteps of the Faux Snooze Network by mixing histrionics, snarky editorial commentary, and dramatic flairs with what is supposed to be objective news. In the case below, bounty hunter Leonard Padilla and show host Pat Lalama discuss the disappearance of a toddler, a case most people would find serious and disturbing. But notice how these two seem more interested in mugging for the camera and tossing out pithy one-liners than they do about actually finding the toddler or punishing those responsible for her disappearance.

The Nancy Grace Show, where the clip first aired, has taken the tragic news story and turned it into a ratings darling by adding a healthy dose of sarcasm, subjective observations, and visible moral indignation. Grace and her cast often pass judgement before all the facts are even in, and they do it with the zeal and fervor of the SNL "Master Thespian" character. How exactly does this inform citizens or rescue a missing child? In fact, Grace and CNN are currently in the middle of a lawsuit that claims, in part, Grace's interviewing tactics led to not only the suicide of the mother of a missing toddler but may have seriously hampered the case.

Perhaps Grace and company should put their energy and efforts towards helping to find these children rather than acting as judge, jury, executioner — and shameless profiteers.

1 comment:

G-Fab said...

Nancy Grace makes me vomit. What you write about here is pervasive. Why did CNN describe in detail how a jury viewed a child molestor's torture videos. Why?