April 23, 2009

Lead non-story of the year


NHK's 15-minute (that's with no commercials) noonday news wrapup breathlessly began with four solid minutes--a quarter of the broadcast--devoted to the shocking! news that Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, a member of the aging boy band SMAP, was arrested in Tokyo's Hinokicho Park at three in the morning, drunk as a skunk and buck naked.

Reportedly when being arrested, he said, "What’s wrong with being naked?" Give him credit for rhetorically improving on Mel Gibson's dumb drunk performance.

As "Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, a member of the aging boy band SMAP, was arrested in Tokyo's Hinokicho Park at three in the morning, drunk as a skunk and buck naked" sums up the entire substance of the story, the next 3 minutes, 45 seconds consisted of reporters somberly repeating the same thing in different locations, and his manager having "no comment."

Then the anchorperson droned off a list of the corporations that had abruptly canceled commercials featuring Kusanagi, including NHK, which was using him as a spokesman for Japan's DTV conversion drive. This may explain why the staid NHK suddenly started channeling the National Enquirer (while it wiped the egg off its face).

After that, they managed to squeeze in a little actual news for anybody other than SMAP fans and embarrassed bureaucrats. I applaud the anchorguy for managing to keep a straight face throughout.

The most disturbing thing about the whole farce was that, based solely on a drunk & disorderly (despite a negative drug test and the fact that only the cops saw him starkers), the police executed a search warrant on his home. Let's see NHK do a story about that. Elsewhere in the free world, some due process rights are created more equal than others.

And "serious" journalists wonder why people don't take the MSM press seriously.

UPDATE: On Friday, Good Morning, Japan commendably spent only a minute on the story in the second half of the program. During a wrap party after shooting a commercial, Kusanagi downed at least 10 glasses of beer and shouchuu. He has no idea why he took his clothes off. Well, except for the obvious reason that he was totally sloshed.

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