Worshiping Idols - Fox and ABC News

ABC News has been planning to glom onto the "American Idol" juggernaut by airing a segment suggesting the show's producers and host manipulate the show's results.

Fox is having none of it, according to Matt Drudge.

The Drudge Report says Fox is threatening legal action should ABC air the segment next week during the all-important May sweep period. Fox believes ABC News is looking to 'maliciously destroy' the nation's most-watched TV show.

ABC interviewed a half dozen contestants who claim producers and judges mold results - specifically Paula Abdul, who offers many positive remarks for virtually all performers.

ABC News' promos - already on the air -- for the "Idol" news segment seem like it's airing the "Idol" show. All this is a good counter-programming move even if it can't totally deliver the real thing.



Fox's legal action seems to be a hollow threat. Perhaps it is in response to Fox and ABC's jousting last summer when Fox rush to air "Trading Spouses," an ABC reality show copy of its planned "Wife Swap." At that time, ABC sued Fox for copyright infringement.

The worst kept secret of any reality show these days is that they are "real." Virtually all are 'scripted" - meaning editors and producers push for a desired and hopefully dramatic ending. Perhaps there's a Congressional hearing in the making here - a far better effort than whether Janet Jackson flashes her boob for a nanosecond.

In theory, "Idol" is a popularity contest for singers, not a business-contest examining which singer would sell the most albums, and certainly not a judges-only contest that really evaluates talent.

Paula Abdul might not be the best judge - but that's why the show has three adjudicators of style, including the tough Simon Cowell. Abdul can always be seen happily grinding while singers are wailing away - a good sign that she's a fan. She doesn't skew the results because she gives many performers equally positive scores.

ABC News is using its voice as journalists to find another way into the "Idol" showcase. As long as contestants and/or sources suggest things are skewed, it should have no problem airing the results. It would not be malicious.

If Fox News' Bill O'Reilly needs to do an expose about, say, the left-wing conspiracy of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," so be it. I want to see that story about the nails, the hammers, and the oppressed sheet-rock.

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