Maybe I was bored or something, but reading what really looked like a non-story in the New York Times about the possibility that ABC might move Jimmy Kimmel up a half-hour — combined with another non-story about the alleged popularity of "hard news" the same day in the Wall Street Journal — got me wondering if there isn't some kind of virus currently plaguing the TV beat.
The Times story cited only anonymous sources, but they might as well have asked me, since I'd have told them that it's kind of a no-brainer for ABC to maybe possible consider moving Kimmel opposite "The Tonight Show" with Conan O'Brien taking over, even though the network offered rather mealy-mouthed denials that anything official was up.
Then there was the Journal piece, which lumped the watered-down "Nightline" and MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" in with the genuinely hard-news "60 Minutes" and "The Newshour With Jim Lehrer" to make the not-terribly-convincing case that serious news is suddenly rising from the ashes. Having sat through a "Nightline" piece days ago that was about how other media outlets were covering the Obama children — which is about as sneaky a way as I can think of to back into covering the kids — well, I guess reporter Rebecca Dana needed one more example to make a trend.
Let's just say that I won't be surprised if those two headlines — "Hard News on TV Draws Major Ratings" and "ABC Said to Consider 'Kimmel' in 'Nightline' slot — join a few other memorable ones from last year, starting with just about everything that speculated about the imminent departure of NBC Entertainment co-chair Ben Silverman.
My personal favorites remain "CBS News, Katie Couric Are Likely to Part Ways" (bylined by the aforementioned Ms. Dana in the Journal on April 10) and "Jay Leno Hints That ABC Is In His Future" (from deadlinehollywooddaily.com on July 15).
Who knows, these latest items might eventually be proven true, but for some reason I'm reminded of that old joke about the reporter for the Yeshiva Journal, who runs in to his editor's office yelling, "I've got a scoop! I've got a scoop! Hold the back page!"