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Marianne Paskowski

Why 'Enable' Paris Hilton?

June 22, 2007 12:39 PM

If it’s true that NBC is paying Paris Hilton $1 million for her first TV interview out of the slammer, something that the Peacock network won’t comment on, that’s akin to giving a junkie a heroin fix.

According to the New York Post, NBC offered the family that princely chunk of change for an interview that will air the day after she is sprung with “Today Show” co-host Meredith Vieira. Yep, I guess Paris did learn something in the slammer after all—how much she craves the spotlight. So much for those crocodile tears and how being locked up has changed her life.

Given all the subsequent bad buzz about NBC’s journalistic ethics, possibly paying for a celebrity profile, I’m beginning to wonder if this interview with Hilton will happen after all. I hope not because it really lowers the bar for broadcast newsgathering organizations.

But is the “Today Show” about newsgathering at all? As it morphs along, “Today” is starting to look more like “Entertainment Tonight.” And that’s fine if that’s the goal. But don’t further enable Paris, a publicity junkie, and dignify this “interview” by calling it news.


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Comments (14)

F Siegel:

In the recent past, NBC 2.0 slashed jobs, many in the news division. Apparently, there's no money for the fourth estate. There is, however, funds for Paris, who, unlike news reporters and overseas bureaus, needs the cash. You're right, "Today" isn't news. But what's there to ask? Paris is a mess -- the public has seen her cry, rant and have sex on the Internet. I'm sure there are hookers who do the same -- but give better talk. Checkbook journalism isn't a novelty: ABC paid Nixon $600,000 for the 1970s David Frost interviews -- and for most of the broadcast, Tricky Dick wiped the floor with him. My guess is that Hilton will do the same with Viera, who does worse than enable her -- she legitimizes her.

Marianne Paskowski:

Well said, only the way you can. I'm precluding that you think NBC will do this?


Jim Forkan:

Hi Marianne,
Hope this rumor turns out to be untrue.
It'd be a blow to journalism and a boost to tabloid (trash) TV.
Somehow I doubt that "Today," which just interviewed Princes William and Harry (presumably for free), would pull out the checkbook for Paris!! Just maybe, this rumor is being spread by one or more networks that didn't get this big "scoop."
In any case, what could Paris possibly say that'd warrant those big bucks?? That jail was rough? That it was unfair? That she's a changed person? She's already said all that in jailhouse chats.
A better interview would be three to six months hence. Did she REALLY change? Or is she still hanging with the party-hearty crowd?

Marianne Paskowski:

What, are you saying you don't believe everything you read in The New York Post:}



You're surprised, along with all the other naifs who think commercial TV news of any stripe is more than show biz, raw ratings and ad bucks? If that were true, broadcast and cable news divisions would be aping PBS and NPR!

H.L. Mencken had it right when he famously said, "Nobody ever lost money underestimating the taste of the American public." He also, I recall, identified the appropriate genus and species for our mass market audiences: Boobus Americanus.

Fact is, TV is out to make money and God knows, my General Electric stock needs some kind of kickstart. If it's true that, on reconsideration, NBC says it never planned to and won't pay a mill for Ms. Hilton's self-aggrandizing prattle, so much the better. I'll bet the decision to back off was made by the marketing department, not the news editors.

And come to think of it, Katie Couric's pitiful performance on the CBS Evening News proves that NBC's Today Show, where she did shine, sure ain't no news program.

Marianne Paskowski:


I'm not surpised. And we'll see if anything happens. Kinda reminds me--although not at that high red alert level--of Fox backing down with it's OJ Simpson special, "If I Did It."

You could be right about the NBC sales department, not the marketing department, saying we can't sell this Paris interview special.Even though the Peacock said it would do it or not, the buzz is out there and the backlash is phenomonal. That same backlash, not from NBC,got her earlier thrown back in the clinker after serving only one day.

Keep on blogging,


Yo Blondie --

Loosen up. What's the fuss? What could be a better lesson about America to teach our children than the obvious: Celebrity, better yet celebrity backed by obscene displays of big money, gets even more bucks and all the attention from our information gatekeepers, especially if you're a dimwit who won't challenge the double-digit IQ's of those entertainment reporters.

Cruisin not bruisin

Marianne Paskowski:

Oy Cruiser,

First of all we don't know if this is a done deal. Could Paris Hilton be a role model for young girls? I doubt it. Most of them are not heiresses.Are you an heir? I'm not.

As always, whatever,

Jeff Mulligan:


I suspect that whatever NBC did or didn't offer Paris Hilton, the public outrage grew so loud that GE's CEO Jeff Immelt, who's been building a great reputation in management circles, pulled the plug and insisted that NBC deny the deal, and kill it were the rumors true.

We've seen prominent cases of checkbook journalism before, but the public reaction this time became a shot across the bow of a principled executive running a legendarily ethical company. Maybe we're hitting a national turning point. Unrelenting criticism, after all, was enough to get even Rupert Murdoch--hardly known for quality journalism in this country--to spike Judith Regan's egregiously expoitative publishing plans for "If I Did It" by O.J. Simpson.

The folks running television need plenty of adult supervision. Thankfully, it's starting to appear.
Now, if Immelt wants to atone, he can send a million bucks to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.


Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Jeff,
From what I read, there's no deal with NBC for a Paris exclusive, or with ABC's Barbara Walters. Finally, common sense prevailed, for now.

However, remember, Paris managed to get in a phone call to some celeb interviewer from E! from the slammer.

And that's dandy. I'm glad to hear the newsgathering orgs for now are not touching this, and letting it sit with the E!, Access Hollywood and/or Entertainment Tonight mob.

Last carnage on Iraq: Another 14 U.S. soldiers lost their lives today. That's what I expect to hear from the broadcast news nets, and not just read it online on AP.


Mr. Abernathy:

Dear Ms. Paskowski:

When you entertain an algothmic perspective on the alleged one millon dollars NBC was said to be prepared to pay to interview Paris Hilton, you would want to calculate a comparative social balance. I haven't had time to check all the numbers yet, but if NBC spent a total of one million dollars spread across all the families who lost loved ones because of drunk drivers during the few weeks of Ms. Hilton's incarceration, the compensation would be nice but very small per family.

More good can be accomplished if the million were paid, the interview begun, and the interviewer, instead of being deferential, explicitly castigates Ms. Hilton on camera. Maybe by asking a question like, "Do you know why you are now known as the biggest and most selfish bufoon on the planet?" Then our celebrity-crazed culture might get the right idea.

Mr. Abernathy

Marianne Paskowski:

Dear Mr. Abernathy,

Get out of your ivory tower of aglorisms.As far asI know, Paris Hilton, did not mow anyone down yet.

However, you sound like you would like to see this interview happen on broadcast news, minus the million dollar price tag. And maybe you're right, that Paris would become a born again sober person. For now that is not gonna happen.


West Coast Dave:

Turns out in a few hours SHE will be out...and they have closed the freakin streets in LA to get her home...
She will alledgely be doing Larry King on CNN for gratis???
How can WE be so naieve to be so concerned and even care about a no T&^ed ( breasted) IQ of 50
moronic blond who's only fame was filming herself looking at the ceiling.....
Even as much as I am manly I would NOT "do her" nor even attempt a reasonable discourse on any subject......no intercourse no discourse...not with a blond shaved racehorse....

Marianne Paskowski:

Thanx for the report from the Left Coast. Yep, she's doing the Larry King interview gratis.

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