Save Ted Koppel!

Aquarian Weekly 3/13/02 REALITY CHECK


Around 9:32 am, this past Monday morning my publishers at BLAZO!! received a rather interesting fax from the office of David Westin, president of ABC News. The thing wasn’t signed or even issued by Weston, who wouldn’t know BLAZO!! or me from a hole in his shoe, but there it was just the same.

It read…

Mr. Reality Check,

Disney is screwing us good this time. By the time you read this everyone here at the Washington bureau of ABC NEWS will be cleaning out our desks to make room for the sawdust and elephant dung, because the circus is moving in. But not even that is entirely true, because the circus has been moving in for some time. This is what network news organizations get for allowing amusement park moguls to run the show.

And believe it, it is a show now; Paddy Chayefsky ‘s worst fears realized. But instead of a broken down schizophrenic like Howard Beale ranting and convulsing every night to the strains of a gospel organ beneath a circular stained glass window, it is poor, dejected Ted Koppel forced to spill his guts on the op ed page of the New York Times like a pathetic caller to these afternoon talk shows that litter the landscape of radio these days.

Maybe you can convince Koppel to chair a panel show where inbreds beat each other with tire irons or maybe he can join degenerate imbecilic couples on blind dates and report on the wacky results?

Koppel is no “latter day prophet decrying the hypocrisy of our times”. No, he is a newsman. That’s all Ted would like to be, a newsman. And there is apparently no room for newsmen these days in the rapacious network swirl of events, even when that newsman outdraws David Letterman and all his “young, hip audience.” But there really isn’t any reason to weep for shows like Nightline or even This Week, even though Cokie Roberts is being treating like a crack whore by an establishment she has toiled under for14 years.

It would not surprise any of us if by September; Peter Jennings is hosting a variety show wherein celebrities spread feces over each other until someone cracks. It will all be for charity of course. We like to mask our dilution of standards with ice cream and good wishes here at the American Broadcasting Company. Pretty soon the news will be special reports from lollipop land hosted by Zsa Zsa Gabore and Emo Philips while the rest of us “journalists” are all sent to bag groceries or spit out futile columns in entertainment weeklies like yourself.

Doom is in the air. One only has to breathe to taste it in the back of the throat, where the last of the bile erupts to save the innards from rotting. That is what is happening here, rotting. It is terrible to see. Our accomplishments and credibility decays like a corpse in the desert sun and we are helpless to stop it.

I would cry, but my contract does not allow it. Put this in your column if you have any guts. No one would believe it, and in your case, that is an advantage.



Despite the pejorative references to my standing in the journalistic community and its ludicrous inference to Letterman pulling in a “young and hip” audience, it was, after all, ABC NEWS and so I was kind enough to respond:


Do yourself a favor, please remove your miserable head out of your ass and smell something rosier.

Your news division has been prostituting itself for over thirty years. I too love Ted Koppel. If it weren’t damned by the Living God I’d drive right now to DC, wrap him in my arms and take him to the Watergate for three days of forbidden passion, but Nightline is a show, funded by ratings and advertising and network goons who couldn’t name the first ten presidents of the United States or locate Wyoming on a map with ten chances and a tutor. You have sold your sold to rock and roll, and now you whine like a schoolgirl?

This is why you are all doomed. You have not heeded the writing on the men’s room stall. It has been there for years. Nightline was born on the bloated coverage of the hostage crisis in 1980. For the sake of all that is holy, I was a child then, and even I could see the news exploitation of that mess. Where was Nightline when the Iranian consulate was railroading Jimmy Carter, while William Casey was negotiating a hostage release from the Ayatola Khomeyni?

Trouble is news doesn’t bring the big numbers anymore, otherwise how could anyone explain these infinite obsessions with Monica Lewinsky, O.J. Simpson and Jennifer Anniston? Maybe you can convince Koppel to chair a panel show where inbreds beat each other with tire irons or maybe he can join degenerate imbecilic couples on blind dates and report on the wacky results?

C’mon, could it be any worse than hiring Dennis Miller to commentate on football games?

Hey, why don’t you just swing the whole operation over to ESPN? It’s practically running the joint now. From what I understand they’re going to send Sam Donaldson over there to baby sit Dick Vitale through March Madness. The network can bill it as a freak show and throw a gimp in there for halftime analysis.

C’mon, could that be any worse than having Bobby Knight on your tournament selection show?

It’s time someone in your position makes a stand and wracks his brain for better ways to disseminate information. These cable news shows are a wasteland of yammering idiots who glean less than 1% of the consumer base. Fifty-year-old “I Love Lucy” reruns out draws Bill O’Reilly and this crazy fucker has a goddamn limo. And from what I’m hearing cable news is killing the networks. So even if you pray for another catastrophe or for Gary Condit to kidnap another woman, you might as well get your hackers license and chauffeur diplomats to Dulles for a healthy tip.

Here’s one more piece of friendly advice: It’s time Koppel ends his thirty-plus year career at ABC by revealing that Michael Eisner tried to rape him in the make-up trailer during the Republican convention. Then he can smile like the Cheshire cat, flip America the bird and head off to the California hills with an unlimited supply of Carona, a pair of EZ-kill mortars, a mail-order bride and a box of Macanudo’s.

And tell him to wait for me.




Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music


Social tagging:

Leave a Reply