ABC News has clearly demonstrated itself to be a good "team player" in terms of trying to feed the network programs that could easily come from the entertainment division, like the news-staging morality test "What Would You Do?"

CynthiaNow enter "Revenge for Real," a two-part program (I can't in good conscious call it a documentary) designed to fill the slot normally occupied by the serialized drama "Revenge" with a news-based show that looks just like it.

Here's the description from the network:

Wednesday, March 7: “Revenge for Real: Murder in the Hamptons”

A rich, handsome, philandering husband, his scorned trophy wife and her boyfriend, an electrician from the wrong side of the tracks… a love triangle seemingly made for Hollywood. But this was not Hollywood, rather a real life Hamptons revenge story. When millionaire Ted Ammon was brutally murdered in the bedroom of his East Hampton mansion in 2001, suspicion fell on his wife, Generosa, and her boyfriend, Long Island electrician Danny Pelosi – who was eventually convicted of the crime. But now, from behind bars, Pelosi is telling Cynthia McFadden what he says is the real truth of what happened that night. It is a twist to the sensational Hamptons murder case that casts new light on members of New York’s high society.

Look, I get it, we live in competitive times. But the willingness of ABC News to churn out this sort of frothy fare — especially in the midst of an election year, when there actually appears to be some demand for harder news — is disheartening to say the least. And the fact "Nightline's" McFadden is anchoring only reinforces how that once-stately program has stooped and pandered in an effort to keep its numbers up.

No doubt ABC News will inundate me with stats about all the serious reporting they've done lately, but I don't see much of that finding its way into primetime. And when I asked ABC News Prez Ben Sherwood about all the fluff the network airs during the TV Critics Assn. tour in January, he insisted the old "hard" and "soft" news labels no longer apply, which is self-serving in the extreme.

So to put it in terms viewers of "What Would You Do?" could understand, I'd say on this particular test of character, the network flunks.

 

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