Is the media enabling the Charlie Sheen trainwreck?
It's hard to find a major media outlet that hasn't landed an interview with spiraling actor Charlie Sheen. Sheen has used his time on-air to rail against the creator of his hit CBS sitcom "Two and a Half Men," demand a raise to return to the now-shelved show, defend his rock-star lifestyle, and, unintentionally, raise questions about his drug use and psychological stability. All this has left media critics wondering: Should Sheen's meltdown really be televised?
Leave Sheen alone — please!: A "responsible TV press" would "let Sheen debase himself in private," says David Zurawik at The Baltimore Sun. Sadly, that's not the media we have. In letting "this sorry wreck of an actor" say dumb things to juice ratings, the networks are acting like "jackals... feeding off the remains of Sheen's celebrity carcass." And as badly as Sheen's behaving, that makes the TV industry almost worse.
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Critics are missing the problem: Sure, "news purists" are "aghast" at the blanket coverage Sheen is getting, says Brian Steinberg at Advertising Age. But while he "doesn't necessarily make for great TV journalism," Sheen "makes for great TV," and there's an obvious demand for his on-air trainwreck. The real issue is that "staid, respected broadcast-news programs" are acting like tabloids, not journalists. Their job shouldn't be to ignore Sheen, but to have him on and ask probing questions while providing much-needed context.
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If the media wants to help, they need a new strategy: "Enough's enough," says Aaron Barnhart in the Kansas City Star. Sheen is a dangerous, sick man, and the "tabloid media" needs to stop enabling him. "When a drunken fan runs onto the field at a baseball game, all the cameras look away," and the press needs to do the same here. If they want to put their journalism skills to work, go "identify the people around Charlie who can actually get him into a rehab facility — against his will if necessary — and then start badgering them to do something."
"The media need to stop enabling Charlie Sheen"