Monday, December 29, 2014

Hugh Hefner Is Dead, And Other Nooz

My bride, who was watching a local TV newscast as she was doing her early-morning prep in our master suite, came to the landing above our media room (where I was sipping coffee and scanning the TV news channels) and said “they just said Hugh Hefner is dead, went to a commercial break, (at this point I already knew what the punchline was going to be) and then came back and said he’s not dead – it’s just an internet rumor.”

We had a laugh at their expense.

The “Hugh Hefner is dead” rumor, which was started by an online “news” site yesterday, was swiftly debunked by Hef himself, on his Twitter account, a couple hours after the rumor was started. No, the Playboy founder and world’s oldest adolescent was very much alive, by his own assertion, and doing the sort of things that Hef does.


I’m not going to single out the local TV station that reported Hef’s death as news…and then, no doubt, during the commercial break, fielded calls from viewers saying something like “hey, folks – you’re reporting an internet rumor – Hefner’s not dead”. Nor will I criticize or scold the on-air folks who read the item off a teleprompter from a script prepared by a (presumably) 20-something “producer” who has never been taught or mentored to do something called “fact-checking”.


There will be no finger-wagging and no acerbic chiding because this sort of thing happens with frightening regularity on local and national TV nooz broadcasts. Stuff that’s just plain not true – and, in so many cases, easily proven so – gets on the air. Social media is full of false death reports, often rendered in such a convincing fashion that it’s hard to tell if the report is truth or fiction.


The thing is, so many 20-somethings, working long hours at low pay as TV nooz “producers” learning the biz, haven’t been trained by skeptical veteran broadcast journalists who may have actually known a newsroom boss who said “if your mother says she loves you, check it out and get a second source”.


Had the “nooz producer” simply typed “hugh hefner dead” into Google, it would have (any time after about 9AM Sunday) returned dozens of results leading to stories – real, actual, fact-checked news stories – debunking the “hef is dead” rumor.


A far more interesting development, as far as consumers of TV news should be concerned, is NBC News Chief Political Correspondent Chuck Todd recently fessing up that the reason he (and scores of other nooz units) don’t challenge politicians when they deliberately lie on Meet The Press (or any of scores of other nooz programs) is because if they call them on the lie, they won’t get “access” to that politician any more.


Apparently, it’s important to “get access” to politicians who deliberately lie.


This is far, far more scary than reporting a (false) rumor that Hugh Hefner is dead.


Radio has just as much fake news (or outright lying) as TV, particularly since the fellow above began calling himself “America’s Anchorman”, implying that what he does for three hours every day on his radio show is nooz, not entertainment. As I’ve pointed out many times, in Rush’s early days, his program was actually far more entertaining than it is now, because he didn’t pretend to be doing news. He ran a very original radio show, timely and topical, full of sarcasm (which so few people understand) and biting wit.

But it seems to me that still about half of his listeners today– give or take – actually think what Rush is doing is “news” and not entertainment, and he does nothing to dispel that misconception.


At least Paul Harvey would bill his broadcasts as “news and commentary”.


Hugh Hefner is still alive – at least, as of noon Monday 12/29/14 – but news is apparently on life support, being replaced by nooz. There are still a bunch of us old-schoolers around, though – who learned by making mistakes and getting a story wrong, and being called to account by a newsroom superior who cared more about being accurate than being first.


  1. Sycophants like Chuck Todd would forego untold website page views if they pissed off subversive swine and war profiteers like Dick Cheney by calling them out. Those clicks are ratings metrics, so bobble-heading is a survival tactic for Todd and his ilk, who have no concept of, let alone regard, for stewardship of the public trust they were given.

    1. Yup. Lord knows how hard it would be for the Sunday talk shows to go on, without the likes of Cheney to provide "balance" and "insight".