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Watch this video at your own risk of emotional upheaval, sleep disturbance, nausea, possible desensitization to human suffering and other serious side effects. Or not.

So soon after all the navel gazing of whether or not to broadcast the Michael Jackson autopsy photo of the superstar lying on a medical examiner’s table so painfully thin, naked and lifeless, CNN somehow embraced a marathon film festival featuring the violent killing of the deposed Libyan dictator.


Once upon a time, we let these images live online and not enter our homes uninvited. This week, however, marked a watershed moment for emotional assault by violent news video.

And it wasn’t just CNN. They just happened to be the network that caught me off guard first.

I had selected CNN for this story cycle early on, when my morning sampling showed their coverage was immediate, smart and very measured.

I had switched over from ABC News after George Stephanopoulos delivered the unofficial report that Muammar Qaddafi had been killed and, after a brief interview with Christiane Amanpour, moved off the story for a Lara Spencer interview with one of the young actresses from ABC’s comedy hit, Modern Family.

CNN, in contrast, was live from the Pentagon and Libya as they set out to verify the breaking news which, in that part of the world, is often riddled with half-truths and propaganda, occasionally disseminated by our own officials. Case in point: the fairy tales of Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch.

During the Arab Spring we first heard Mubarak’s sons were safe in London. Then they weren’t.

CNN certainly captured a classic exchange as their reporter pressed the Libyan Minister of Information who, while refusing to provide an official statement, seemed to confirm many of the details of Qaddafi’s demise.

History was in the making and I was glued to the set. But despite having spent nearly 20 in network news, I was completely ill-prepared to see the Qaddafi “cell phone” footage which CNN obtained and rushed to air. There was no warning that I was about to see a snuff film.

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As soon as I heard the breaking news of the death of Steve Jobs last night, I felt compelled to write a thank you note to him and bring it, along with a rose and a red apple, to his flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

Maybe maybe the public restraint I saw is generational, but if Steve Jobs is to be the Princess Diana for us geeks, we’re going to have to do much better in our spontaneous expression of love, honor and appreciation.

Someone magical has left the planet, no matter how we all will forever live in his iClouds. And I feel shameful for my greed in wishing we all had many more years of him.  I feel a lot of pain that his family didn’t have enough. Read the rest of this entry »

NBC's The Playboy Club: the first time Utah tv programming execs and Gloria Steinem have shared a revulsion. (ewwwww)

I have sampled the new season, and so far, it’s not pretty.

On Fox, I like X Factor, but am not finding it compelling enough to “must see.” Fringe is still brilliant and thrilling appointment viewing — in my house, but not enough others.

On NBC, what were they thinkin’ with their tacky  Playboy Club drama in primetime?  This  Mad Men clone doesn’t begin to shake a tail feather.

And ABC? The best thing about their clone, Pan Am,  was the hilarious impressions of the pilots by Dana Carvey filling as guest host of Regis and Kelly.  Craning his neck backwards, he showed how the Pan Am actors in the cockpit have to play to the camera.

On CBS, Charlie Sheen’s (character’s) funeral on “Two and a Half Men” scored big, as apparently did its newest star,  the freshly single Ashton Kutcher, which might stem the aging of their audience.

At 92, Andy Rooney just  left 60 Minutes, but now rumors are swirling that 69-year-old Charlie Rose will be the new anchor of The Early Show.  It’s not so much his age I’m noting, (as a former senior executive producer of the show.) As a student of the art of the interview, I can promise that Charlie Rose won’t be finished his first ever-so-thoughtful-and-complex sentence when his competitors are on their third news story of the morning. Read the rest of this entry »

Farewell to Andy Rooney: It's Complicated

I, for one, will miss Andy Rooney who, at 92, is closing out a 47-year career at CBS News during which time he walked the halls with other broadcast giants such as Edward R. Murrow, Fred Friendly, Walter Cronkite, Don Hewitt, Mike Wallace and more.

He also worked along side quite a few “non-giants” (we all know the list) and  once had his pay suspended after writing a letter to then CEO Laurence Tisch to complain that CBS News  ”has been turned into primarily a business enterprise and the moral enterprise has been lost.”

Back in March 1987, Tisch had cut more than 215 jobs and  the Writer’s Guild tried to protect their members and, at the time, was five weeks into a strike.  In a gesture of solidarity, Andy Rooney refused to appear on “60 Minutes” and was suspended without pay. His weekly salary then was reported to be  about $7700.

Sunday night, the crumpled Mr. Rooney is signing off 60 Minutes, with his 1,097th commentary and that is nothing short of remarkable. And while most weeks of his 33-year career at 60 minutes he offered a dose of humanity at the end of the broadcast,  he occasionally spewed speech that would wound. Read the rest of this entry »