Today I read that some peeping tom recently took illicit videos of an ESPN network sports reporter through the peephole of her closed hotel room door, capturing footage of the unsuspecting woman while she was naked. Amazingly, it was reported, both the CBS Early Show and Fox News had opted to show portions of the video on air.
If you haven’t heard about this, you’ll probably think I’m making that last part up. After all, logic tells us that this woman’s basic rights had been violated – a rather unsavory crime – so surely no responsible news organization would reward such a crime by repeating the violation on national television. That kind of coverage is the ultimate encouragement of continued criminal activity, the kind of validation most voyeurs could only dream about. But thanks to CBS and Fox, for one lucky peeping tom the dream has become a reality.
Since it’s inconceivable that any news organization could actually be either that stupid or that venal (as in “Gosh, let’s join forces with this criminal and help him to violate this poor woman, because that will make our ratings go up”), one must presume that both organizations were following some higher principle, some enlightened path so evolved that it eludes the minds of us ordinary folks.
Fortunately for you, gentle readers, I have obtained inside info – unreleased documents from top-secret executive planning sessions – showing that Fox and CBS made this transition into blatantly criminal activity as a way to raise the consciousness of our nation. It seems that we are merely seeing the start of a continuing lesson in civics, as the producers at these news networks work to expose crime in a truly novel way: By participating in it. For example, in the case of the peeping tom video, they wanted us to understand on a visceral level the monstrousness, the sheer violation, of the invasion of privacy that occurred in that hotel. And the best way to do that was to themselves publicly commit the same crime against the same victim, while millions of Americans watched in horrified disgust.
The actual documents delineating network plans for the fall lineup are too long to reprint here. But I can give you a glimpse of some highlights, a preview of the coming television season, as these esteemed news organizations collectively continue their ongoing foray into civics education:
August: Fox News exposes Michael Vicks’ brutal exploitation of innocent canines by bringing some dogs onto the show, and then proceeding to viciously bludgeon each one to death with a baseball bat, while the studio audience is encouraged to take bets on the order of their demise. In this way we are all made to become more sensitive to the plight of man’s best friend in today’s world.
September: Rising to this challenge, CBS Early Edition brings an assortment of small children from Darfur onto the set, and the news anchors proceed to hack them all into pieces with machetes. By the end of the segment nothing is left but a pool of blood and assorted body parts. Surely such a demonstration will raise our collective consciences, causing millions of caring Americans to open our hearts and pocketbooks in order to ease the plight of our African neighbors.
October: Fox News mails innocuous looking letters to all one hundred senators, as well as all four hundred and thirty five members of the House of Representatives. Each letter has been surreptitiously laced with the deadly Ebola virus. Within five days every member of congress is dead – except for Al Franken, who it turns out is immune. Speaking on behalf of a stunned nation, President Obama profusely thanks Fox News for raising our collective awareness of the potential dangers of postal terrorism.
November: Not to be outdone, CBS Early Edition detonates a 0.5 megaton nuclear device in downtown Chicago, thereby wiping that great midwestern city from the map, killing several million people outright, and effectively making the region uninhabitable for a radius of about a hundred miles around. Americans watching at home get the point, and rally around ongoing negotiations with Russia toward mutual nuclear disarmament.
And so it continues, as our intrepid news organizations, newly empowered with civic zeal, teach us one valuable lesson after another. Looking over the lineup for the coming year, I think it’s really wonderful that these networks are taking such an interest in the teaching of social awareness. Personally though, I’m a little nervous about next April. That’s when Fox News is scheduled to do a segment on the Holocaust.