Tuned In

TV Networks Discover Principles, Or At Least Their PR Departments Do

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Over the weekend, CNN’s Larry King stepped into the breach of the Paris Hilton debacle and nobly accepted the burden of interviewing the celebutante after her release from prison. No longer will the voice of the underclass be silenced in the media!

More interesting than the Larry King deal, though, was ABC and NBC News’ sudden discovery of their deeply held principles, or, at least, of those principles that somebody decided it would be good PR for them to deeply hold. After the two news departments were embarrassed by publicly being caught in a reported bidding war to make Paris slightly richer (along with TIME’s sister magazine, People), the deals fell apart and the two networks turned around and refused to interview Paris for free.

To which I can only say, what the–? Who cares if they interview Paris Hilton for free? Sure, it’d probably be a vapid, pointless interview, but no more so than many their morning and nighttime news programs air regularly. The point wasn’t the interview subject; it was spending hundreds of thousands for an interview at the same time that both networks are gutting their news staffs.

Really, the networks’ sudden refusals to interview Paris were even less principled than their initial attempts to land her. At least then the news departments had the courage of their convictions that Paris would bring them big fat ratings. Their convenient instant conversions just show how ethically rudderless they are: Hey, you know those journalistic standards you people apparently want us to have? Look, we have them now! At least while you’re paying attention!

Let’s just hope that they get their policies straight before the next time a reality starlet lands in jail. In the meantime, Nicole, keep your nose clean.