Wednesday, May 07, 2008
The Terror Alert Level has Been Raised to Peppermint
I realize I pick on the Today show quite a bit, but honestly, the thing is pretty much a four-hour cavalcade of rank stupidity.
This morning, if you made it past the fact that one of the lead stories on the show was a hard-hitting, two-and-a-half minute investigation into whether Britney Spears was reforming her image, and then past Meredith Viera cooing about how she'd been granted extra special access to Dick Cheney's home -- while keeping a straight face, mind you -- you eventually wound up being treated to a report that may have represented the final staggering triumph of hype over substance. The heavily promoted piece, fronted by the spritely Natalie Morales -- who may herself be nothing more than a CGI creation, the Jar Jar Binks of television news -- concerned the potential danger lurking in your medicine cabinet, compliments of Crest Pro Health mouthwash.
During the intro to the story, Morales put on her "concerned" face and enthused that as many as 91 million bottles of the mouthwash have been sold in the U.S. -- but that many of its users have begun taking to the internet to complain that the stuff is turning their teeth brown and altering their sense of taste. Roll tape, which featured about three minutes of one seemingly distraught customer after another -- all conspicuously members of Today's core demographic of 34-49 year old women -- lamenting their temporarily discolored choppers and demanding satisfaction. By the time Morales got around to an actual face-to-face with a doctor on the Procter & Gamble payroll, the audience was no doubt whipped into a frenzy of righteous indignation, ready to insist -- as the disgruntled customers had -- that Crest Pro Health come equipped with warning labels from here on out. That's when the story dropped the bombshell, or rather, the waterballoon: Morales sternly informed the doctor that she had literally a couple of dozen complaints that she'd pulled down off internet message boards from users of the mouthwash.
For those not good at math, let's recap: a couple of dozen complaints, out of 91 million bottles sold.
The report ended with, what else, word of a class action suit currently being filed against P&G -- a company worth millions -- by one of the pissed off customers who just happens to be a lawyer. Once again, for the obtuse: NBC essentially spent four minutes of national airtime not only lending credibility and import to the claims of these few unfortunate idiots, but putting up a big neon advertisement for any other opportunistic asshole who feels like joining the suit and getting rich by claiming victimization at the nefarious hands of an uncaring corporate giant. The Today show turned a non-story into a manufactured controversy -- the kind of thing you'd expect to find airing as a Shame-on-You piece on K-SHIT in Lubbock, Texas during sweeps -- and in doing so, probably conjured a monstrous lawsuit out of thin air and certainly perpetuated the cycle of absolute horseshit we've come to expect from today's TV news departments.
That's what should leave a bad taste in your mouth.