Tamron Hall has been in the TV business for some time now. The 43-year-old reporter, who has a journalism degree from Temple University, was a fill-in for Keith Olbermann on MSNBC and does primary fill-in work for Natalie Morales on NBC’s “Today” show. In other words, she’s been around the block a time or two, which is why I was very surprised to see her turn up as the resident “journalist” on Sunday night’s episode of “Sister Wives.”
On the surface, her job was to interview Kody Brown, his wife, and his mistresses. What viewers got was what we, in the business, would call, a “softball” interview where the questions are weak, lack depth, and are not not terribly informative.
What would I ask?
Why do you position yourself away from the AUB?
Do you pay tithing to the AUB?
Why do you insist this is a “lifestyle” choice and
not a religious choice? If this is a lifestyle choice,
then it is solely about the sex and not your salvation.
If it is about salvation, why do we not hear that and
why and how that works? Or, do you even have religious
beliefs? What is it all about?
Whose names are on the birth certificates of your children?
What is your combined income and how can you afford four homes on a cul de sac in the greater Las Vegas metropolitan area?
Have you and your wife ever asked a teen girl out on a date?
Why do you think you are “safer” from prosecution in Nevada than Utah, where the previous and current Attorney General have proclaimed that they will not prosecute violations of the state’s bigamy/polygamy statutes?
Who performed the ceremonies at your spiritual weddings?
That’s just for starters.
But, those questions will never be asked on a TLC broadcast because the network is too heavily invested in the show. Instead, we witnessed a very poor example of what was purported to be a journalistic interview, positioning a woman with a resume from a major network that has been in business far longer and has far more credibility than TLC, as a representative of the people who would like to know more about Kody, his wife, and the other women in his life.
There was one moment, and one moment only, that went beyond the superficial, and that was when it was mentioned that Kody and Robyn were still in the “honeymoon” phase of their relationship.
If you watched closely, you could see a flash of pain in the faces of a couple of the women, and rightfully so. Kody? He had that big, ear-to-ear grin that makes me want to toss a brick through the TV screen.
It was, in my mind, the most telling moment I have seen on “Sister Wives,” affirmation that this is not about religion or a lifestyle choice, that this is simply a practice of gratification of Kody’s need to sleep with a bunch of women and not get any grief about it.
Look, if it’s purely about the sex, just be open about it. If it is purely a lifestyle choice, be up front, but don’t lay all that business of purity and righteousness on us or the self-proclaimed persecution. Rock stars do it guiltlessly all the time. Just say you don’t believe in monogamy and be done with the other stuff.
But that won’t happen because, as evidenced by the shoddy “reporting” on the last episode, TLC has a product that it needs to buff and shine and maintain a positive image for to hold on to viewers and propagate new ones.
The questions will always be sanitized, the events that take place on the show will always have a little help or urging from the producers, Kody and the women will always be painted as the victims in this little play.
Since being invited here by Mister Sister, I have studied the posts, the questions, the thoughts of the community that gathers here. Guess what? There are some very articulate people here who are looking for some answers, who are very confused by what they see on this show, who are a hell of a lot brighter than the producers and the TLC network give them credit for as they strive for bigger ratings.
I hate to take such a serious tone because there is a liveliness, a sense of humor here, and I certainly don’t want to be the buzz killer. But, I also know the incredible power of the media, the strength it possesses, the influence it can sway.
Does that mean all TV should be dour and scholarly?
Of course not. To live without humor is to live without joy.
I have used the word “context” a lot here recently because it is important to put everything into context and perspective. My context and perspective are built upon a very lengthy career as a newsman – I actually loathe the word “journalist” because it implies, by definition, something entirely different – and I hate to see what has become of a media I once defended as an honorable profession built upon an almost sacred trust between reporter and consumers of the news. We were entrusted to act in the public’s interest, on its behalf, to inform and educate, but most importantly, to be the embodiment of truth.
But, when I see how a network panders to a baser instinct of titillation rather than information, well, it breaks my heart.
Now, for a little snarky levity?
How many sister wives does it take to screw up a television network?