Monday, January 05, 2009

For the last couple of weeks the weather here has been surprisingly pleasant. With many cold, near freezing days, but with sun, unusual for a Paris winter and a bit of snow. Café Kim was open yesterday for the first time since summer, a small but hungry group found their way to brunch. Wags liked the idea as he received many handouts, enough that he was sick later. Next time they’ll be a no feeding the dog rule.

I caught up on some back reading and video viewing, including Ashley Dupré’s interview with Diane Sawyer. It was good to find out that Ashley appears to be more than the characterizations of her Facebook page, but it was Sawyer who really fascinates me. During the introduction she mentions that she has been doing stories on prostitution for three years, which prompted the question in my mind is why? The reason for the Ashley interview is pretty obvious, but what of that awful Nightline series?

Media coverage of prostitution is often sensationalistic, like the CNBC series on high end call girls. But Sawyer implies that her coverage has a purpose beyond voyeurism, though it doesn’t have the evident moral purpose of say, Nicholas Kristof’s writing of the subject in the New York Times. Sawyer strikes me as a smarmy, arrogant socialite who deigns to bring this subject to light. But I still don’t know why?

The Nightline series, which was shelved, until the Spitzer scandal includes a series of interviews with the subjects that proceed predicatively concluding in Sawyer’s humiliation of the interviewees, who inevitably break down in tears, while Diane looks on with faux compassion. The interview with Debauchette was different. Given the fallout, I expect that Debauchette wishes she never heard of Diane Sawyer, but if she replays the interview there are things that she might wish had been done differently, not having maintained eye contact at a key point, phrasing a comment more strongly in either tone or words. All and all Debauchette did very well, she made her points and didn’t allow Sawyer to gain the superior position and denied Sawyer, her coup de grâce. If Sawyer has a journalistic purpose beyond exposing wretched souls to her audience, you would think it would have come out of that interview.

In the Dupré interview, Sawyer pulled her punches a bit. Partly I believe because Ashley came to the interview chastened and wanting to move on and partly because Spitzer makes a more reprehensible target. Even then Sawyer couldn’t resist some mild humiliation with her question on what the difference is between prostitution and escorting.

Not that anyone cares, but my answer would be, there’s not. Both are about exchanging sexual favors for money. The differentiation exists in the conduct of the business of prostitution.



Anonymous VJ said...

I know I've mentioned this before here, but I think personally Spitzer was done dirty, and of course he was in no real legal jeopardy, they just wanted him out of the way. Project Censored has this as their Top #25 Most Important Censored Stories of 2009: [].

It was a hatchet job by the same Rovians behind Valerie Plame's exposure and the sacking & the crass Stalinist politicization of the DoJ. They knew what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, and leave almost no traces, or none anyone would look for.

And again don't even get me started on Diane Sawyer's miserable little slumming concerned sorority gal BS act for Nightline. I saw some of the 'vignettes' she did, they were utterly miserable, and almost all of them were drug addicts of the most broken down & pathetic sort.And why do it? Prurience sells. Degradation sells well to the masses, and the corporate big wigs & Saywer know this and feed off of it like roaches on a greasy kitchen floor. Then they'll all hope to get some sort of TV Emmys for all their 'public interest concerned' so called journalism. It makes me sick. There IS no greater reason or cause for them beyond voyeurism and selling ad space, None. And yes, she's ever the 'smarmy, arrogant socialite' ever since being a Nixon gal, right up until his last days in the WH & beyond. It was one of her first 'fortuitous' jobs straight out of one of the 7 Sister Schools. (Oh please don't make me look that up!)

But I know I commented upon all this when the Debauchette interview came up here. I don't think I've even watched any of that either. I've given up on most of TV.

Good to hear the weather's fine & the dog's up to the more likely tricks though! Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Ken said...

On your last point, I concur. Very much so.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Elena said...

Just started reading your blog, facsinating, I love your writing method :)

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw a small part of that interview. The story line was that she was a victim, thus the kid gloves.

If there's anything interesting about Sawyer's perspective, it doesn't show. Her husband directed some of the most sexual movies, including The Graduate and Carnal Knowledge. He also did Angels in America and The Birdcage, which have gay themes (duh), and Catch-22, which includes such characters as Nately's Whore. One would think she'd share the sensitivity he shows in his work.

I have no idea if she's this much of a turd or if this is how TV shapes stories.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Hi Elena, thanks for stopping. I see you have a blog so I need to stop by.

Anon: They did portray Ashley as a victim, though in my view she was simply a victim of bad timing and luck. If this had been the simple break up of a call girl ring, seasoned with a bit of tax evasion and money laundering and client 9 had been a stock broker from Westchester, it would have gotten a few inches of coverage in the tabloids for a few days and Ashley's name would have been buried at the bottom.


7:17 PM  
Anonymous Phantom Man said...

Kim, I think Diane Sawyer simply tries to sensationalize everything she does. Her intent is not to inform; she is going for ratings, which results in higher pay for her network and for her. They all do that, so she is not different -- perhaps a little more effective than some others. And she is reporting on prostitution, or any other sex related story, to boost ratings. It is all about selling advertising, which means ratings. I thought Ashley did a good job, but why did she agree to this interview? I assume that she, too, must be seeking publicity for some money-making opportunity. I would ask the question what is the difference between selling sensationalism based on degrading others and selling sex? One causes harm, the other does not.

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PM, she's trying to have a hip-hop singing, performing career and the interview was massive free publicity. It's not like she had anything to lose.

Kim, of course it was just bad luck. More importantly, I wish Spitzer had told the press to bleep off, that it's not a big deal and that it's between him and his wife. He should have said that prosecution of rings is not the same as prosecuting or patronizing escorts and their clients. But that would have required more honesty than politicians possess.

2:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sawyer strikes me as a smarmy, arrogant socialite who deigns to bring this subject to light. But I still don’t know why?

When the interview came on I immediately checked the season. Yep - it was ratings season. Sawyer was titillating the audience to boost her ratings. Yes, prurience sells. The masses get to look at a little illegal sex and not feel guilty about it because this is Serious Journalism.

However, I seem to remember Spitzer and DuPre (sp?) were snagged because he was wiretapped. The real journalism would have been to find out if that was a legal wiretap or an illegal one that was politically motivated to take out a big Democratic fish.

As far as I know, none of the Serious Journalists (except Glenn Greenwald) asked that question.

ps: I agree with your characterization of her. I do not know how people can stand her. She was just as bad on 60 Minutes.

3:48 AM  

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