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Sorry for the MSNBC switcheroo…

jpozners Icon Posted by Jennifer L Pozner

June 19th, 2007

Hey, y’all — if you watched tonight’s “Scarborough Country” hoping to see me debate the “no girls need apply” sign that CBS seems to have hung over the audition process for the next host of “The Price Is Right” - or Barbara Walters’ homophobic snipe at Rosie O’Donnell as well as her fuzzy math about “The View’s” ratings, as promised earlier – sorry to say, the segment was cancelled. Which isn’t to say I didn’t appear on the show… much to my chagrin.

Here’s the story. A couple of hours before the show, the producers asked me to do a second segment in addition to the one mentioned above, a short, “fun” segment about the resignation of Judge Larry “her body belongs to me now” Seidlin (the whackadoo who made a spectacle out of the trial over Anna Nicole Smith’s remains), who many are speculating will now be given his own TV judge show. I told them I wasn’t interested in that segment, that it’s the sort of thing that I find to be fluffy and not particularly useful to the public debate. But, they said it would only be three minutes and it would really help them out if I would stay around to weigh in on Seidlin in addition to the segment about O’Donnell, Bob Barker, Barbara Walters, CBS and etc.

So, I agreed to do it, figuring that I could perhaps “smarten up” an otherwise fluffy segment about the judge by noting that the idea that this judge has gotten offers and might well get his own show is just another illustration of how far media companies will sink in pandering for ratings. Here’s a judge who runs a kangaroo court, encourages the trial over a dead woman’s estate and child to be made into a huge spectacle so that he can get his 15 minutes of fame, makes disgusting comments about his ownership of her dead body, and for this he’s rewarded with his very own legal show? This is the type of person who should be presented to the viewing public as representative of the judiciary? It’s basically media rewarding bad legal behavior — giving someone who made a mockery of his own courtroom a televised platform to continue that sort of sensationalistic grandstanding in front of a much larger audience. If he was that much of a ham in the Anna Nicole Smith trial in an actual court, imagine how inappropriate he’d be on a TV show where he won’t have to abide by any actual legal restrictions or ethical codes of conduct?

While I didn’t really care about the segment all that much, I figured it couldn’t hurt to do it, if only to say that if Seidlin gets his own show it will be yet another example of profit-hungry media companies churning out crappy, low-quality shows in attempt to pander for ratings, instead of using the public airwaves to distribute critical information or truly engaging, interesting, creative entertainment. So, I said yes.

As it turned out, that segment became the top story of the show, hosted tonight by MSNBC general manager and former on-air personality Dan Abrams. What was supposed to be three minutes turned into a drawn out segment including a campy bit wherein I and the two other guests had to rate Judge Seidlin on a “one to ten gavels” scale for style, substance and “survivability” (ie, whether a TV show with him at the helm would last). The whole thing ran so long that the other segment was cancelled.

I’m bummed. I was actually looking forward to discussing issues related to women and the media on Scarborough tonight — I was planning on talking about how inappropriate it is for CBS to hold a “no girls need apply” sign over any media job, even one as benign as “The Price Is Right,” and how problematic it is for Barbara Walters to make homophobic remarks and to lie about ratings. You know… topics actually relevant to what we do here at Women In Media & News.

But, these last minute changes happen in live news. Them’s the breaks. Sorry for any confusion if you watched the whole show waiting for the Rosie segment to air.

I’ll post the video when I get it.

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