Can Dr. Drew Cure Cable News' Addiction?
This case has become cable news' hillbilly heroin and it'll be hard for them to kick. The six-week trial of the 25-year-old Florida party girl accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, letting the body rot in the trunk of her Pontiac Sunfire, then tossing the tiny corpse into a swamp, has been a sickeningly strong ratings booster. Discussions of the case by panels of "experts" have brought so many viewers to Time-Warner's struggling HLN channel (formerly Headline News) that viewership has tripled in some timeslots. Wall-to-wall Anthony trial coverage has filled HLN's daytime hours, followed by constant chatter about it on the channel's prime time shows.
Drawling scold Nancy Grace had already been excoriating "Tot Mom" nonstop on her HLN show for nearly three years (the child, Caylee, was killed in 2008). Bringing HLN hosts Jane Velez-Mitchell and Joy Behar on board raised the volume of the sob-sister cable talk shows whose unifying theme was pegging Anthony as a liar, a slut and a monster and her family as a clan of incestuous, abetting enablers.
The only antidote to the hysterical, screech-owl tone of HLN's coverage was the calming presence of Dr. Drew Pinsky on his new Dr. Drew talk show. Premiering April 4, the show broke up the hen party of the channel's all-female talk lineup and offered something different in its well-known host. Pinsky, a practicing M.D. (unlike his nemesis, Ph.D. holder Phil McGraw), is an expert on human behavior, namely those behaviors associated with abuse and addiction.
He's an affable TV presence, intelligent and attractive without a gloss of smarm. He's a natural as a talk show host, able to nail narcissism at a glance (he co-wrote a book on the subject) and good at interviewing people for a reason most of TV's big-name question askers are not: He actually listens when people talk.