Brent Bozell
The book industry seems to be collapsing, at least that hallowed old paper-and-glue industry that promoted serious ideas. Even talk radio and TV hosts are spending less time with authors. There are exceptions, but they won't make you feel optimistic about books.

Exhibit A of today's kind of author: Jenny McCarthy, the former Playboy centerfold who's parlayed her nudie shots into a long list of TV gigs, and six best-selling "humor"/advice books (which absolutely no one might guess were written by someone else). Her latest must be her lamest. It's called "Bad Habits: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic." She's wearing a nun's habit on the cover. Original, huh?

She wrote a note to potential readers promising the book is "sinfully hilarious" and "always outlandish." She insists Catholicism "has pervaded my life since birth and confused the f--k out of me for about the same time," to the point where "I had to give up giving s--t up for Lent."

McCarthy is the kind of author TV bookers can handle. She's not going to get serious about theology, such as some boring old archbishop, and unlike most authors, viewers can always ignore what she's blabbing about and picture her in the raw. The discussion doesn't get much deeper than CNN's sneering Piers Morgan did: "Most Catholics are in recovery, aren't they?"

ABC granted three interviews to the 1993 Playmate of the Year, including "The View" and a feature on "Nightline," where reporter/publicist Juju Chang walked with McCarthy through her old neighborhood on the south side of Chicago and helped her reprise slogans from the book like "Jesus was my [Justin] Bieber," as if God the son was a silly pre-teen idol everyone outgrows.

Religion wasn't really much of a topic. It's just a schtick. As they talked about her new Playboy centerfold spread this year at age 39, "Good Morning America" co-host Elizabeth Vargas replied, "Hey, amen."

The closest ABC came to an orthodox point of view came from the man who plays an idiot conservative on television, Stephen Colbert, playing "guest host." He asked McCarthy if she still goes to church, and she said no. "OK, you know you're going to Hell, right? ... There's only one true bride of Christ. And it is the Catholic Church. I don't mean to bring you down at the end, and it was a lovely segment, but you are going to Hell." To which McCarthy played along: "Why don't we break some commandments together? I can teach you."

Brent Bozell

Founder and President of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell runs the largest media watchdog organization in America.
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