The Dangers of Bifurcating Your Business
You are socked with one of these grisly litanies four to six times in the course of the half-hour broadcast.
In addition, virtually every network newscast has at least one health-, illness- or accident-related feature, thus pandering to Big Pharma and all their other core advertisers in the field of sickness and health.
Particularly grim was ABC’s five-minute segment on the eve of the New Hampshire primaries that covered 24 hours in the emergency room of Parkland Hospital in Dallas. Among the many horrors shown was vintage black-and-white footage of people crying to remind us that John F. Kennedy was taken to Parkland after his head was blown apart by an assassin’s bullet. We were told a new patient arrives in the Parkland ER every four minutes and the waiting time to see a doctor is 10 hours.
By the end of every program, Charles Gibson’s signature sign-off—“And I hope you’ve had a good day”—sounds positively lugubrious.
The Dwindling Audience for TV Network News
This massive hyping of all these drugs and their side effects has its own side effect—grossing out normal, healthy folks who have abandoned network news in droves, opting to get their news via cable, satellite and Internet.
At the same time, this unholy procession of depressing ads serves to feed the neuroses of what appears to be the core audience: 23 million hypochondriacs consumed with morbid curiosity about sickness and bodily functions—their own and those of others.
On the evening of January 7, Charles Gibson proclaimed that he was presenting a special edition of the program with a single sponsor and limited commercial interruptions. That sponsor turned out to be Pfizer and the two commercials touted a Web site, www.mytimetoquit.com, devoted to helping people quit smoking. The ultimate product was Chantix, a nicotine inhibitor.