One of the basic troubles with radio and television news is that both instruments have grown up as an incompatible combination of show business, advertising and news. Each of the three is a rather bizarre and demanding profession. And when you get all three under one roof, the dust never settles. The top management of the networks with a few notable exceptions, has been trained in advertising, research, sales or show business. But by the nature of the coporate structure, they also make the final and crucial decisions having to do with news and public affairs. Frequently they have neither the time nor the competence to do this.
Since your new book, “The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives,” is about great advice, imagine that your boss, Les Moonves, called you on Christmas 2009 and said: “Charlie Sheen was just arrested for holding his wife at knife point. He has a history of this sort of behavior with women, but he makes a ton of money for the network.” What do you tell him?
Have you told him as much?
No. He hasn’t really sought my advice on Charlie Sheen. I hope what Charlie Sheen did wouldn’t be consistent with the values of this network. That’s probably an unrealistic response, but that’s my initial gut reaction. Luckily, that’s not my job.
Did you feel less proud going to work at CBS knowing that he was essentially a colleague?
I don’t really consider Charlie Sheen a colleague.
Second, entertainment figures enter news and politics: Reagan and Schwarzenegger were hardly the first. In 1934, novelist Upton Sinclair ran for governor of California. And there was a pop-culture counterattack:
Newspeople sometimes involve themselves in the entertainment media. One major example is the movie Dave (1993):
Fourth, entertainment media are often vehicles for political and social commentary. As Good as it Gets (1997) was a romantic comedy-drama, not a political movie, but it did have a message about health care delivery in the United States:
Fifth, certain kinds of works are hybrids of the two: talk radio, TV interview shows, "fake news," even government propaganda (see here for an example: at 23:00, it is corny, silly, and yet spot-on about what would happen 27 years later.)