Keller @ Large: Media Exploiting Charlie Sheen

BOSTON (CBS) – If you or someone you love sometimes daydream about what it would be like to be super-rich and famous, bring yourself or your loved one quickly back down to earth by considering the saga of Charlie Sheen, one of the most successful actors in television and a very wealthy man who may be one of the sorriest sights in a popular culture filled with them.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

I won’t horrify you and scare the children with the details of Sheen’s drug-addled adulthood, or his multiple brushes with domestic violence, or his off-the-deep-end political views. (Click here if you want to read about it.)

Over the past few days, you could have turned on any number of TV or radio shows and heard Sheen’s profound mental illness spewing out in a string of amazingly voyeuristic interviews, as the vultures of the media descend to consume their share of ratings flesh.

As Washington journalist Nancy Doyle Palmer points out on the Huffington Post: “In most cases someone spewing the delusional, grandiose and revenge-fueled pushback of what can only be called a cornered man would be talking this way to the Starbucks barista, the clerk at CVS, the ER nurse or the last person on his cell phone list of favorites who will take his calls.”

But because it’s a big-time celebrity melting down, Sheen’s self-destruction is being enthusiastically enabled and empowered, notes Palmer, who pleads with the press to “stop giving him a platform and a microphone. He is not well, and it’s the cruelest kind of exploitation.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Life is not a circus act; drug addiction is not a freak show. Our tabloid-infused media culture loves to document a bad train wreck, and that’s bad enough. But in this case, the media is not an observer, but an active participant, and one word comes immediately to mind – shame.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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