Dr. Phil Rides Again!
On May 4, 2005, CBS Television, that bastion of the “Liberal Media”, launched a massive salvage operation for one of its properties. Pat O’Brien, host of “The Insider ”, and former CBS Sports anchor, was in need of a makeover and CBS rushed to perform damage control. I am reminded of a scene in the movie "Christine" , where one of the minor characters mutters, “You can’t polish a turd.” In terms of reputation, he was wrong. You can polish a shitty reputation by running it up a flagpole and saluting.
In a “Dr. Phil Primetime Special”, Pat O’Brien was given a forum to expiate his “sins” in the public confessional. Dr. Phil, demonstrating his usual grasp of semantic subtlety, asked questions like, “There are those who believe that you fled to rehab to create an excuse for getting busted on ... inappropriate sexual behavior. True or false?" Answer: True. I am one of those who believe that. Please note that Phil did not ask, “Did you....” , and Pat did not have to make a statement that might later be proved to be a lie. As to why I believe this to be a put-up job, it is because it follows a formulaic and common confusion of ideas: The public admission of guilt and remorse makes the crime less despicable. While publicly admitting guilt and remorse might make a perpetrator of a crime more human in our eyes, and more likely to invoke our sympathy, it does nothing to decriminalize the acts themselves. Unfortunately, this tactic works to minimize public outrage, and often to promote leniency for our favorite sons in the justice system. Equally unfortunate is the double standard this produces, as an average citizen could cry their remorse from the rooftops without anyone taking notice.
Another reason that I think this is a put-up job, is that I heard the answering machine tapes that they played on the show. I was not imbued with shock or disgust as much as disbelief. I have had many party animal friends, and never have I heard one of them use, “Let’s go get some hookers and go nuts” as a pick-up line. I can’t imagine being wasted enough for that to make sense. You are basically telling a woman, “I want to do you, but you won’t be enough for me.” Does that work? I’ll have to try it at my local watering hole.... or not. I have not been so overtaken by the sense of the surreal since Morton Downey Jr. showed up on my TV wearing a backwards swastika.
Last week at work, a colleague of mine was having no end of trouble with a brand-new laptop computer. In an attempt to cheer him up, I showed up in his office with a bowl of sugar and a cup of water. In answer to his puzzlement, I explained that this was my response to anyone who gave me the, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” speech. Without a lot of water and sugar, it’s pretty damn sour and unsellable lemonade. What CBS is doing is watering down and sugar-coating a lemon.
For another slant, try this for homework: http://parmedia.org/feature/display/453/index.php