Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC is one of my newest heroines. Recently, when Paris Hilton was released from jail, her producers made that the “lead story” of the headlines she was supposed to read and instead, she ripped it up and skipped to the next item that was of actual importance. (By the way, why do I even know who Paris Hilton is? No one has yet come up with a reasonable explanation for that.)
Yesterday, Ms. Brzezinski did it again, pointing out how the endless reporting about Lindsay Lohan’s latest troubles really works as enabling the behavior. Of course, she’s one of the few voices on MSNBC saying such things, the rest of the day would be spent talking up Lohan over issues such as Iraq, Alberto Gonzales’ possible perjury or a House panel voting to cite Bush Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former counsel Harriet Miers with contempt.
It’s true. The insane substitution of pop culture over actual news is nuts. News is supposed to inform, not entertain. (CNN further blurred that line with their crazy YouTube debate this week, asking Democratic candidates for president to come up with fun videos of their own. This is about choosing the next leader of the free world, why does it need to be fun?)
What’s even worse is that this celebrity culture has made a mockery of drug and alcohol rehabilitation, as it has become just another PR tool instead of needed help for those caught in the web of addiction. The list is astounding: Are you a U.S. representative caught sending steamy e-mails to pages? Blame booze. Are you a major movie star with a nasty streak of anti-Semitism in your blood? It’s that old demon rum. Are you a television actor with a homophobic streak that causes you to lash out a gay co-worker with epithets? Quick — get to rehab, stat. At this point, it seems as if rehab can cure everything EXCEPT drug or alcohol addiction.
When we live in a world where the death of an E-list celebrity such as Anna Nicole Smith gets more coverage than the deaths of former presidents or the first leader of post-Soviet Russia, we have entered a sad world indeed. Maybe we’ll get lucky and someday someone with deep pockets will set out to start a cable news network that actually covers news instead of trivia.
Scott Schuldt, Staff Writer