Friday, June 8, 2007

Paparazzi Television

I saw the most disgusting thing on TV today.

It was the MSNBC coverage of the Paris Hilton circus and the expansion of cable news into Paparazzi Television. Today’s coverage of the mess took cable news to a brand new low. And I watched. I bet the ratings for MSNBC news are through the roof today and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a whole new genre of TV journalism coming out of all this. They worked with a fast rising website TMZ who has absolutely all the inside dirt on everything Hollywood and is now the go-to destination for major news organizations. TMZ pays top dollar for select photos and stories - so they it get all. They also seem to have people so well placed that they break news long before anyone else. They have turned being a paparazzi into a professional, six figure job and they led MSNBC around by the nose all day long.

Even before the Princess Diana car accident I thought that the Paparazzi were menaces to society. Being famous should not disqualify you for having some privacy. No one should be paid big money to humiliate or harass. Paris Hilton has not deserved any of the good fortune in her life, but she hasn’t deserved all this either. But paparazzi television attracts eyeballs as well as they almighty dollar. I predict that TMZ will partner or merge with a TV news network soon, if they don’t start one themselves. I bet right now executives at MSNBC are thinking the same thing I am and will look at today’s ratings very closely.

I could go on and on about the details of the coverage but I won’t. Others will probably write more about it over the next few days. But I really had to roll my eyes when one reporter on MSNBC was in front of the house decrying the circus even as he found himself getting nearly run over by the Sheriff’s car taking Hilton away. It was ridiculous. All day, their anchors and guests hurled really vile statements towards Hilton and anyone who questioned this public scolding, their tone even more severe than right wing radio. It was never ending and it was sickening. Of course Hilton did something wrong and should spend more time in jail, but it’s still possible to feel empathy towards someone clearly having a nervous breakdown. MSNBC took sick pleasure in repeatedly maligning this young woman. I was indifferent about the whole thing but not after this afternoon.

Note: I clicked over to CNN from time to time and they covered it a lot too, but not much after 2 o' clock and generally in an non vindictive way.

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