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Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Perverted Justice indeed
Maybe I'll get my first hate letter/email for posting this but here goes. I can't be the only person out there that's repulsed by KPTV's round-the-clock coverage of their recent undercover sting. If you haven't heard, last week the local new affiliate hooked up with prevertedjustice.com to stage a ratings bonanza. Together, they set up a "bust house" to expose a dozen or so would-be statutory rapists.
OK, everyone involved has probably been congratulated no less than 50,000 times. Their pre-emptive strike against these guys, one of which is a reserve deputy, will likely prevent them from doing something insanely stupid in the future. Local law enforcement has neither the time or the resources to crack down on sexual predators that lurk in online chat rooms. KPTV and Perverted Justice took the law into their own hands and they got results. Harry Callahan and Paul Kersey would be proud.
On the other hand, do we really need round-the-clock coverage on these guys? Do we need to be endlessly reminded of what evil lurks in the hearts of men every time Seinfeld breaks to a commercial? Do any of us need the details of the Valentines gift that one man brought for his fictional underaged mistress? Do we really need a website that smugly posts all the unedited, cringe-inducing IM conversations?
Nope, nope, nope and nope. Bust the swine but spare us the gory details.
There was a time when it all it took to boost your local news outlet's ratings was footage of a nasty car crash or an exploding whale. Now perverts seem to be all the rage. Every time I turn on the local news, I'm assaulted by gleeful anchors recounting the latest pedophile arrest. Good Day Oregon now devotes an entire segment to rapists and molesters. KPTV isn't the only one pulling in viewers with these stories. Each local news affiliate seems to devote no less than five minutes of coverage during each broadcast to the latest karate instructor or priest caught with his hands down some kid's pants.
In this context, with theme-music and fancy graphics, this ain't news. It's gut-wrenching infotainment of the highest order. Guys, isn't there a war on? And where's the coverage of the upcoming mayor's race? How many Portlanders can name a single candidate? How about a little attention directed towards all those misappropriated millions being pumped into the Center Stage/armory project?
Oh, wait. Those stories are guaranteed snoozefests. Last year's Bowling for Columbine may have not been good for much, but it at least it had the balls to draw attention to the fear-mongering of local affiliates across the country. Real news stories are continually pushed aside in favor of exploitation ("Escalators: What You Don't Know Could Kill You!"). As long as KPTV and all the rest keep rolling out the child abusers, I'll be keeping my dial on Comedy Central.