Bieber Fever Outbreak Sweeps Cable News

Bieber Fever Outbreak Sweeps Cable News

It's hard to blame cablers for picking low-hanging fruit, but where's the balance?

In the wake of Justin Bieber’s arrest on DUI and drag racing charges, Al Jazeera America issued a press release somewhat high-handedly noting that while it was covering stories like Syria and Edward Snowden, it had not reported on the pop star’s legal troubles.

As business decisions go, good luck with that.

Frankly, in an era driven by ratings and traffic, it’s hard to blame cable networks for lustily going after Bieber’s latest run-in with authorities. Sure, it’s not big news, but it is newsworthy, inasmuch as the singer is a well-known public figure, and celebrity is a legitimate facet of news. From a commercial perspective, something like Bieber is low-hanging fruit, and if news operations help pay the bills in part by pandering to those prurient interests, it’s hard to say they’re wrong — or misreading the public’s appetite.

The question, as always, is one of perspective, which was certainly absent on HLN, where Jane Velez-Mitchell hosted no less than six attorneys to debate the merits of the case — seriously, they all went to law school to wind up doing this? — and Nancy Grace, practically breathing fire out of her nostrils, immediately began probing whether it would be possible to have Bieber deported.

The silliness didn’t end there. CNN’s Don Lemon featured former child stars Barry Williams (“The Brady Bunch”) and Corey Feldman (via phone, alas) to discuss the Bieber situation, helping the audience overtly process the young adult’s troubles through the prism of Hollywood kids steeped in temptation. Clearly considering the matter somewhat beneath him, Bill O’Reilly brought in his lead-out, Megyn Kelly, to fleetingly discuss Bieber, with the elder host suggesting the pop figure was in danger of winding up like Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix, names which will mean a lot more to the Fox News audience than any of Bieber’s fans. (To be fair, O’Reilly opened the show with his favorite topic — himself, and the fact he would be interviewing President Obama before the Super Bowl.)

CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter turned his Twitter feed into an ongoing debate about the propriety of the Bieber news (he even recirculated one from the fictional anchor of HBO’s “The Newsroom”), but he needn’t have bothered. A story like Bieber’s legal troubles — with all the juicy parallels it instantly evokes — is simply too good to resist.

All one can ask in these situations is for a little sobriety, balance and proportion, and perhaps some acknowledgement of such a story’s relative importance — or lack thereof — in the bigger scheme of things.

Not that asking will make any of those things happen, of course. The battle against TV’s tabloid impulses has pretty much been fought and lost. But to quote another fictional character who knew a little something about excess, isn’t it pretty to think so?

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 4

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Sana Kim says:

    my dad in-law got a new red Infiniti just by some part time working online… navigate to this web-site

    >>>>>> C­H­E­C­K­4­­4.­­ℭ­­Oℳ

  2. TV101 says:

    I hate to say this but I think CABLE NEWS is really what is really wrong with this country as the vast majority of Americans still do not get it — CABLE NEWS has VAST amount of time they need to fill and they do so with talking heads and, frankly, crap like this. At the very least couldn’t this have been their third story in? Too much to ask? You go to a older Republicans home – Fox News is blaring in the background. A democrat, to be sure its MSNBC. And all these people are not giving us GOOD news information they are just making everyone angry. Rather than being a tool for information they are fanning the flames. The vast majority of Americans believe what they see on television and don’t read deeper. Obviously a bigger problem requiring much more space to type BUT CABLE NEWS adds to all of this. I often wonder what our country would look like if we didn’t have those crazy news channels. I swear I learn more about this country when I am in Europe watching their news. Time to this idiot Bieber – insane.

  3. stella rodgers says:

    Beiber’s an idiot & so is his dad for such stupid behavoir…in these times of so many of us struggling for equal rights, I whole heartedly invite the kid & his “sheep” to come do all that stuff in Texas…we’re a very friendly state….we treat all our punk dope smoking cop cussing suspended license drag racing underaged drunk pretty boys the same in our county jail according to a past member of one “welcome wagon party favor”…so yea, come on…come party with some Texas boys…

  4. Kelly says:

    Al Jawzeera has more respect for the Average America than most American media….

More Voices News from Variety