The Today’s Show Savannah Guthrie
As much as it may surprise some, even the so-called mainline media is just another part of the Celebrity Gossip Machine and the line between traditional news reporting and tabloid nonsense has been permanently obliterated. Case in point, the recent mugging of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson by The Today’s Show co-host Savannah Guthrie in NYC. NBC claims that The Today Show’s “live broadcast provides the latest in domestic and international news, weather reports, and interviews with newsmakers from the worlds of politics, business, media, entertainment and sports” and from its beginnings has claimed that it is a “morning news show”. But it is little more than a big corporate tabloid dressed up as a legitimate news agency.
But of course it was Sweeps Week and network television shows, even one owned by a corporation that handsomely profited through Kristen’s work (NBC Universal owns Snow White & the Huntsman), couldn’t resist taking a free shot at invading her and Rob’s privacy in the name of corporate profits. On November 7, Guthrie ambushed Kristen Stewart on the Today Show with the relationship question literally at the end of the her interview as the music for the commercial break was already playing, blaming her inquiry on the demands of their fans. Not satisfied with this cowardly outrage, she did pretty much the same thing today with Robert Pattinson. See a transcript below of her interview with him:
SG: “I know you’re used to the spotlight and there is good and bad that that comes with that and one of the probably annoying things is that people are interested in your business. So yesterday I asked Kristen Stewart if you two had gotten back together. Did, did you see what she said?”
RP: “No, what did she say?”
SG: “She said keep em guessing.”
RP: “Keep them guessing?”
SG: “That what my question is. Alright so I’m going to ask you.”
RP: “I want to ask, because we get asked it all the time and its funny cause everyone always asked for like four years. It’s like who is actually asking? Is it in your contract?”
SG: “Yes it is. It’s the fine print. If I had known. Does it get annoying, is it a high price to pay? You’ve gotten these films, it’s made you incredibly famous, there’s been so much good with it. But it is, you know, personal now.”
RP: “It doesn’t have to be. It only becomes personal if you answer it. I could sit here and talk nonsense about paper hats and stuff, getting old, needing a nap.”
As Pattinson so rightfully pointed out, no it doesn’t have to be. Despite the levity Pattinson displayed, it was obviously a personal question that neither he nor Kristen wanted to answer and likely said as much when their interviews were set up. It was also a question Guthrie had no right to ask in spite of the fact that they are public figures. But rather than respect their privacy, Savannah Guthrie felt compelled to ask it anyway because it’s about ratings and corporate profits and titillating the public about private information. Is this what freedom of the press has come to?
Guthrie has said that her approach to any interview is “to try to think of the one question they would rather not be asked, just to see what they would say.” But Savannah Guthrie needs to remember that she too is a public figure. Does that mean we get to ask her whether frigidity led to the breakup of her marriage to BBC journalist Mark Orchard in 2009 or whether it was due to her having an extramarital affair with political consultant Michael Feldman, whom she was romantically linked to after her divorce? Or how about asking her whether her meteoric rise on the Today Show at NBC was accomplished by her sleeping her way to the top with NBC executives?
It shouldn’t, but that is the standard of journalism that Savannah Guthrie and people like her are setting by asking these questions. Just because she wants to know, or people claim they have a right know, doesn’t mean she gets to ask whatever she wants. If she insists on doing so, maybe we should reconsider the propriety of asking her the questions above. And until the “media” re-imposes some standards on itself, and clearly separates itself from celebrity gossip and reality television, the fourth estate will to continue to sink further into the gutter and lack credibility as an important societal institution. Which it has long since ceased to be.
But then again, that what happens when reporting news becomes little more than tabloid entertainment and reporting it is measured by ratings points and audience share and how it affects the corporate bottom line. We all end up diminished in the process.
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