My Online Prose Portfolio

"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer


Weekly Muse
My humble opinion on current events

January 15, 2002

Sexy CNN

Ted Turner's Cable News Network created quite the stir when it ran and then immediately pulled ads for its latest anchor babe, Paula Zahn. In case you live in a cave and missed it, CNN aired about ten promos for Paula Zahn's new show. A male announcer croons: "Where can you find a morning news anchor who's provocative, super-smart, oh yeah, and just a little sexy?" The word "sexy" popped on the screen, there was a photo of Zahn, and finally, the obvious sound of a zipper zipping (presumably down). CNN claimed the zipper was actually a needle skidding across a record. It just sounded an awful lot like a zipper. 

CNN chief Walter Isaacson immediately fell all over himself apologizing, but tellingly admitted no responsibility. "It was a bad mistake. I'm really sorry. The promotion department didn't get it cleared." In other words, don't blame me - the buck stops with marketing! Does anyone really believe that Isaacson allows ads to run without his permission? Who is he kidding?

Maureen Dowd, the normally ignorable New York Times columnist who excels at parroting the conventional wisdom, wrote that "CNN made a terrible gaffe... and told a terrific truth."

The gaffe is admitting the truth: that CNN, and more generally TV news, hire anchors based less on credentials and more on looks.

This should surprise no one. TV, at its most basic level, is entertainment. Not information, not news. We want to be entertained, even as we're getting the seven-day weather forecast or the stock market report. We do not want to look at some acne-infested, sweaty, fleshy, painful-to-look-at unfortunate. We want to see pretty, handsome, attractive. We like pretty things and beautiful people. We won't watch anything else, so TV news, desperate for viewers, gives us what we want. 

There are exceptions, of course. I can think of a handful of media celebrities, male and female, who aren't knockouts. 

But there's no sin in placing eye candy in front of the camera. The sin is admitting it, as CNN discovered.

Is this unfair? Perhaps. But unattractive yet talented people can always go into radio, or write. That's life. Me, I'd love to be on TV. But I don't have the looks. I know it. I accept it. Not a big deal. So I write. You should be thankful.

At the same time, I can also understand why Paula Zahn and other serious anchor babes get offended. They want to be taken seriously. They want us to know that they've fought and clawed their way to the big time with their talent, hard work, and dedication, not their hairstyle or cute smile or short skirt. 

But they should remember that most viewers are sophisticated enough to know the difference, based on performance. Zahn is indeed super-smart, and it shows. She asks good questions and offers unique insights. Other anchor babes, when straying dangerously far from the TelePrompTer, reveal their, shall we say, not-so-strong attributes in silly statements and inane questions. 

But Zahn should be grateful about something. Phil Kloer, a writer for the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, made a good point when he wrote that it wasn't that long ago where middle-aged women were getting replaced by hot young things, and wasn't this so unfair. Zahn is 45, and CNN says she's sexy. And she is. Isn't that, in a weird sort of way, progress?

Evil Enron

This Enron fiasco is shaping up to be the major political scandal of President Dubya's administration. 

I've been following this story closely, and so far it appears Bush and Cheney are clean. Democrats sense this but still can't resist going fishing for dirt. 

Enron donated about $800,000 to Bush over the last 20 years or so, and though it gave money to both parties, the vast bulk (70 to 80 percent) went to Republicans. Company executives met with Dick Cheney several times over the spring and summer, and others called other administration officials, asking for favors. It's interesting that despite the donations their requests were pretty much ignored. Dubya didn't do them any favors, and neither did Cheney. The company went under.

It's how Enron went belly up that's the problem. The executives seem to have hidden the firm's financial problems while at the same time selling their plummeting shares as fast as they could. Ken Lay, much aligned, took a soaking. His stocks were once valued at $3 billion, and when he finally fully liquidated earned "only" about $100 million. Hard to feel sorry for him, particularly because Enron's employees, kept in the dark about Enron's money problems, lost much of their life savings, because, as of late October, they could not sell their shares. 

Congress and the Justice Department have opened probes, and if there has been any fraud or illegalities, then fry Lay and his cronies. But I'm guessing that Democrats won't stop there, and will try to tar Dubya with Enron all year, hoping to affect the mid-term elections. Henry Waxman seems to be the guinea pig for this strategy. He blamed Bush for doing nothing while Enron crumbled. But can  you imagine the outcry if Bush had bailed them out? Instead, Dubya let the market work, while at the same time pressing for pension reform, so employees don't get shafted again. Waxman's protests are a bit disingenuous, I think. But if they work, if they put a dent in Dubya's approval ratings, expect more of the same from other Democrats, unwarranted and untrue though they may be.

PC Abomination

It will probably go down as the most famous photograph in American history, claiming the top spot now held by the Iwo Jima photo. The image of the three New York firefighters proudly and defiantly hoisting the American flag, amidst the ruin and destruction wrought by the forces of evil and hate and ignorance, will endure as a shining symbol of hope and triumph. It shows our unique American character, the rugged individualism blended with a fierce love of country. It stands on its own; no caption or explanation is needed.

And then the race hustlers got their slimy hands on it, and ruined it.

A $180,000 sculpture based on that photo will be erected in the spring at the New York Fire Department's headquarters in Brooklyn. Meant as a tribute to the 343 firefighters who lost their lives while trying to save others, the statue will be built by a company called StudioEis. A clay model of the statue was unveiled December 21, and it's no more than an abomination of political correctness and racial tyranny.

You see, the three firefighters in the photo were all white men. Apparently, that was unacceptable to the fire department, so they turned three white men into one White, one Black, and one Hispanic. "Given that those who died were of all races and ethnicities and that the statue was to be symbolic of those sacrifices... a decision was made to honor... everyone who made the supreme sacrifice," babbled a Fire Department spokesman.

What stupid, pointless nonsense. Are they saying that three white men can't represent the entire fire department? Whites can't represent everyone in a group? Are they really claiming that? 

That's what it seems to me. These people are so blinded by race, so driven by their own twisted notions of representation, the stark truth must seem like a crucifix waved before a vampire. They cringe from it, weeping and wailing, and shut their eyes tight and wish and hope that it wasn't three frigging honkies in that picture. The horror!

Want the truth? The fact is, of the 11,500 firefighters in New York, less than three percent are Black and less than four percent are Hispanic. The force is overwhelmingly comprised of ethnic whites, namely Irish and Italian. 

But never mind that. That only matters to the racial bean counters. What's truly important is the notion that three brave firefighters apparently cannot represent their own place of employment because of their skin tone.

But there's an even bigger problem, and Kevin James, a member of something called the Vulcan Society, which represents Black firefighters, unwittingly revealed it. "The symbolism of it (the statue) is far more important than representing the actual people. I think the artistic expression of diversity would supersede any concern over factual correctness."

Did you catch that? That hoary old idol of the race hustlers, "diversity," is more important than the truth. Their own poisonous agenda of dividing Americans along racial lines is more important than the reality that should unite us all. That photo is important to all Americans, and these people have turned it into a racially polarized object of divisiveness and scorn. They don't care about people. They don't care about what makes each person unique, a creature created by God. That means nothing. To them, people are little more than pawns to be manipulated around their own little chessboard. Men and women, white and black and otherwise, each endowed with character, personality, and traits that makes everyone unique, are nothing more, in these people's eyes, than the sum total of their pigmentation. That's all that matters. That's all they see.

These people are ignorant, close-minded, deceitful, and pathetic. They make me sick and they make me sad. But they won't win. Make all the sculptures you want, that photo lives as a testament to America and Americans, of all races and creeds. And there's not a damn thing any race hustler can do about it.  

Back to Weekly Muse