New Low In Local TV: Reporting The Nudes

Just when you think you’ve seen it all — thanks to WTSP Channel 10 — you really haven’t.

The local CBS affiliate recently ran an item as a lead-in to John Nugent and sports on its 11 p.m. newscast that had to have viewers wondering if Reggie Roundtree were channeling Howard Stern.

The piece, actually a video clip that ran some 35 seconds, was on “Hunting For Bambi.” To the uninitiated, “Bambi” is a pricey (4-figure fee) “sport” that permits paint-ball “hunters” to stalk naked women on a Nevada preserve. Even with strategic, Jerry Springeresque body-part blurs, it was apparent these women, some of whom are “escorts” when otherwise occupied, were wearing nothing but that bimbo-caught-in-the-headlights look.

By contemporary standards, this would be appropriate fare for, say, “The Best Damn Sports Show Period.” Or maybe run as background ambience at some bar. Something for everyone, including all the less-than-subtle societal messages you care to acknowledge. Someone’s debasement for profit or exercise in exploitation is someone else’s unadulterated hoot.

It’s consenting adults; it’s legal; and it’s your choice. If you don’t like it — don’t watch it; don’t go there.

It’s probably a quaint notion, but shouldn’t the local news, even if it does share a time slot with White Chocolate, not be so easily confused with, say, “The Man Show?” There’s barely enough airtime to report the news — let alone the nudes. Let alone running a promotional clip from a sleazy video that’s now for sale.

Interestingly — and maybe predictably enough — no hue and cry was raised over the CNN-fed, “Bambi” piece. Maybe we’re just inured to an increasingly tabloid culture. According to WTSP News Director Lane Michaelsen, the station received nothing more than a single e-mail on the “Bambi” spot. And that, said Michaelsen, was from a guy — not exactly in the fit of outrage — noting that the female targets should at least wear goggles to prevent injury.

Internally, “There was discussion in the newsroom that night,” acknowledged Michaelsen, but it was hardly heated. “It was one of those stories that was so amazing — that people were actually doing this — that you wanted to tell people about it,” he explained.

So they told and showed.

One more thing.

In her happy-talk banter, co-anchor Sue Zelenko looked a mite non-plussed about the “Bambi” exposure and the “boys will be boys” guffawing of Roundtree and Nugent. Hopefully she was also plussed-off enough to voice it to management. Hopefully “News Gone Wild” is merely a poor judgment call — not a ratings strategy.

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