TV psychologist “Dr. Phil” McGraw canceled plans for a show on Florida teenagers accused in a videotaped beating seen on YouTube after learning that a member of his staff helped one of the girls post bond. (The New York Times, free registration) TMZ reported that the Dr. Phil show confirmed that an employee had bailed out Mercades Nichols, one of the teens accused of beating a classmate, but said it was a low-level production assistant who unwittingly went beyond a policy allowing producers to provide help for people for whom appearing on the show would be a financial burden. (FOXNews)
What the commentators said
Dr. Phil didn’t need another blemish on his credibility, said Courtney Hazlett in MSNBC’s The Scoop blog. McGraw “came under fire for spreading word that he’d visited Britney Spears at Cedar-Sinai at the request of the family, and was going to be the one to save the troubled pop star.” Many people found that creepy, and now the show’s future is in question as critics say Phil will stoop to any “stunt” to get the guests he wants.
The producer didn’t just help Nichols post bond, which was set at $33,000, said TMZ.com. He reportedly told other journalists to stay away from the teen because Dr. Phil had “exclusive rights” to her story. A judge had imposed a gag order on the case, and it’s unclear what the court might have to say about this.
Trying to capitalize on Spears’ “potential mental instability” was bad enough, said Corey Mitchell in Discover.com’s Hollywood on Trial blog. But the “ignominious spawn of the Oprah Winfrey stable of annoying celebrities” has “gone off the deep end” this time. The victim in this attack, a former cheerleader whose attackers taunted her by saying they would post a video of the beating on YouTube, was left with a “disfigured” face and potentially damaged hearing. That’s entertainment?