Many people are celebrating all of the admittedly-hysterical quotes Charlie Sheen is pumping out as he speaks to just about every media outlet there is these days, each interview more manic and eye-popping than the last.
But as we do so, we are also celebrating the very sad reality that a very ill human is unraveling before our eyes.
And that is why ABC News and new chief Ben Sherwood have a wonderful chance to make a statement right now about the DNA of the division going forward. Cancel the planned 20/20 featuring the taped Sheen interview, which is set to run Tuesday night.
If it runs as planned, it may get ratings. Though with Sheen jumping on the Today show, TMZ and who knows where else between now and then, I’m not sure how much meat will be left on the bone.
But what if ABC released a statement that said, “After further review and internal discussion, ABC News has decided not to run the Charlie Sheen interview as planned. As it has become apparent that Mr. Sheen is in need of help, this news organization will not exploit his condition for ratings and we feel at this point airing this interview is not a legitimate news story. We wish him the best of luck going forward.”
In one action, the new regime at ABC News would be putting themselves on a bit of a pedestal, and showing what they could stand for going forward as a news organization. They would be sacrificing ratings in the short-term for respect in the long-term. And frankly, since Sheen has been everywhere already, it wouldn’t be costing them much as the interview is nowhere near an “exclusive” (though that word has been abused more than Sheen’s body as of late).
I don’t expect ABC News to go forward with my idea, but I can always hope that news organizations once in a while will take the high road and let a few ratings points go in exchange for showing some dignity and class.
The entire media industry that is laughing with Sheen is also celebrating the sad effects of an illness. And that is not a healthy way to do business.