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Want Your Own TV Show? Get Caught With a Hooker!

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Just what does it take to get your own prime-time TV show on a purportedly reputable cable news network? Years of toiling in small markets, mastering the craft, breaking stories, building reputation? Nah.

Just be a disgraced governor, who, after making your reputation as the toughest of sheriffs – including busting prostitutes and prostitution rings – spent large sums while traveling on government business to employ prostitutes and dominatrixes furnished by a major pimping operation. While you were married too, by the way.

Former Gov. Spitzer, hypocrite of hypocrites, should be a reality TV star, maybe on Celebrity Rehab or some show like Blago’s wife did. He should be dumped in a jungle somewhere, or in Big Brother house, or even on the Playboy Channel. Isn’t that where Gov. Freak-Show Spitzer should be?

But in its wisdom, the bastion of journalistic integrity, CNN, has seen fit to ensconce him as a teller of truth and wisdom, host of a news discussion program. CNN’s president, appearing on the network’s own “Reliable Sources” program on June 27, defended the choice with arrogant, condescension, as if anyone objecting to it were one of Obama’s gun- and religion-clinging rubes. His actual defense was slight; Spitzer apologized, and he still has many good ideas to offer. One hopes none mirror his past good ideas, or CNN may be presenting prime-time orgies.

I’m usually for second chances. So, I guess, if CNN wants him, the public can stomach his pompous arrogance and he can muster the cajones to present himself as a serious thought-leader, well, more power to him. And, perhaps, CNN is the appropriate place for him. Sarcasm aside, lots of us step deep into muck of our own making at one time or another, and have to resurrect ourselves and rehab ourselves with some audience, so who am I to say Spitz shouldn’t have his turn. Martha Stewart went to prison and we didn’t ban her from selling towels and curtains, now did we?

But the Spitzer hiring shines the spotlight on a serious problem: We are becoming a reality-TV instant star society. People don’t need or want to take the time and trouble to earn anything. Or to bother preparing for and being qualified for the jobs they seek. (Look inside the Oval Office.) Snookie is the equivalent of Meryl Streep. Sleazebag Spitzer is the equal of Larry King. Or, for that matter, Anderson Cooper.

Sure, Fox gave Huckabee a show and made Palin a commentator, but as far as we know they are at least governors who served honorably, not driven from office and narrowly avoiding prison time over hooker escapades.

To be clear, though, the culprits here aren’t Spitzer or CNN. As Pogo famously said: we have met the enemy and They is Us. As a society, with consensus, we seem to be valuing instant stardom by any means, notably including sleaze over talent, ability, initiative, effort, investment. We now value unearned fame above earned credibility. Much of the public no longer makes this distinction, may not be intellectually able to, or don’t care.

Ironically, the mainstream media that has been a major contributing factor in fostering this new equivalency of gossip with news, trash and trivia with substance may wind up eaten by the very monster they helped grow.

But we are the even bigger losers, adrift in sea of sewage made of false moral equivalency. We are losing our entire culture, losing our sense of reality. If we view Lindsey Lohan’s latest drunken adventure as news worthy of running side by side in the CNN bottom-of-screen crawl with Obama’s latest thievery or the reports from the war fronts, we volunteer for our own debasement. What we are willing to reward with our attention and sanction by our absence of protest, we get more of.

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