I have no real problem with American Idol. Despite the fact that it's main-lined a near-overdose of musical mediocrity into our national conscience -- I mean, come on, Daughtry? -- it remains a mildly entertaining diversion, albeit one which automatically brings with it an annual frenzy of thoroughly undeserved attention. I understand the need for escapism, particularly during these troubled times -- after all, there's a name for someone who refuses to talk about anything but the frightening cloud of cabalist-view world events: Lyndon LaRouche. Somehow though, watching even the supposedly responsible news networks shift their coverage from, say, the nightmare in Iraq to this year's vast well-spring of overly-eager Idol contenders just seems a little wrong.
Every once in awhile though, Fox's cultural juggernaut actually does produce a newsworthy moment; it's of course at that point that certain news outlets drop the ball completely, look the other way, and prove in no uncertain terms Paddy Chayefsky's prescient 1976 assertion that corporate sponsorship would eventually kill truth and objectivity -- at least as it's beamed into your living room every night -- stone dead.
A couple of days ago, one of those moments happened.
During an interview with Seattle's Fox Q13 News, Paula Abdul -- whose constant, unbridled lunacy has assuredly become the stuff of legend by now -- took her reputation to lofty new heights by essentially being drunk off her ass on live TV.
I could spend a good couple of paragraphs describing her erratic behavior and the unquestionable conclusion to be drawn from it, but as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words -- or in this case, at least a fifth of Stoli.
See for yourself.
The fact that Abdul was so obviously intoxicated is flat-out hilarious.
The fact that the Tele-mannequins interviewing her -- Fox Q13's Lily Jang and Carmen Ainsworth -- were either too inattentive to notice, so inept that they're unable to deviate from a scripted interview, or worst of all, unwilling to (further) embarrass a celebrity in general and one who's attached to their network's biggest rain-maker in particular is reprehensible. Make no mistake -- the second that interview ended, Jang and Ainsworth exchanged uncomfortable chuckles and posed the question to each other that should've been leveled at Abdul herself: "WHAT IN THE HELL?" It's the equivalent of the old cliche' in which the two cops stand watching a burglary, then one says to the other, "Somebody should call the police." They pause for a minute, then comes the obvious punchline, "Wait a minute, we are the police." I doubt however that it crossed the minds of Jang and Ainsworth -- even for a moment -- that their guest was making news live on their air, second-by-second, and that they might want to actually do their jobs and ask an appropriate question or two.
It may take a few days for most of the planet to get to a computer and witness Abdul's three-minutes and thirty-seconds of unhinged glory, but once they do, you can count on every news organization in the country to immediately begin non-stop coverage of Paula-gate 2007, with everyone from Diane Sawyer to Larry King putting on their best "genuinely-concerned" faces to ask once again if Paula needs to get some help. It'll be overkill, and it'll be complete bullshit given the fact that all but a few media outlets have their own behind-the-scenes stories of Abdul-mania, yet for whatever reason have rarely chosen to make such compromising information known to the public. I can personally attest to the fact that five minutes before appearing on the network news-show for which I work, Abdul had locked herself in one of our office's bathrooms and was being desperately begged by a group of her handlers and our booking staff to please stop crying and come out. Our anchors knew none of this when Abdul pulled herself together at the last possible minute and took her seat in front of the camera.
The two "journalists" who sat there staring into Abdul's glassy eyes and listening to her slurred speech and Parkinsonian movements can't make that same claim.
They watched a typically innocuous celebrity interview turn into an actual news event right before their eyes, and they did nothing. They had access to the story before a PR-firm could grab hold of it and begin spinning it with laughable claims and ridiculous evasions, and they feigned ignorance.
They were on the front lines, and they didn't fire a shot.
Paula Abdul was trashed -- what was their excuse?