Last Friday night, ABC's Nightline ran a six-minute segment on the end of public access television in California. Although the news show never mentioned our paper, the segment was based on an L.A. Weekly cover story, "Shutting Up the Little Guy," in which we took no prisoners in pointing out the sleazy politics of former California State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and the L.A. City Council. Wish we could say the same about the Nightline piece.
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To put it simply, the venerable news show, once known for its top-notch investigative journalism, completely and utterly wimped out. While the L.A. Weekly named names, tracked down sources, and took corporations and politicians to task, Nightline never mentioned Time Warner Cable, AT&T, or Fabian Nunez -- all of whom played crucial roles in the end of public access TV in California.
Nightline, however, gave face time to the public access folks -- and all of them were first interviewed by the Weekly. Dr. Susan Block, the sexologist; Leslie Dutton, the host of Full Disclosure Network; and Zuma Dogg, the host of his self-titled show, all made important appearances in the segment, and we were happy for them -- at least millions more Americans now know that public access TV is under nationwide threat.
But Nightline without Ted Koppel sure isn't what it used to be. Brian Rooney, the gray-haired correspondent who worked on the piece, let Time Warner, AT&T, and Fabian Nunez take a free ride.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.