ABC, Diane Sawyer & Bruce Jenner’s Genitals

I don’t care about Bruce Jenner’s genitals. I don’t care if they’re male or female, intersex or no sex at all. It’s his biz, not mine.

I do care about the emotional torture people experience when they have questions about their gender identity or sexuality, especially if they are fragile adolescents, struggling to “fit in.” For that reason, I was hopeful that the Bruce Jenner interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC-TV would be a true public service and soothe some kid struggling between suicide and self-acceptance.

I hoped his tears were real, not the rehearsed ones of a reality-show retread. I wanted his words to be sincere when he said he wasn’t profiting from his soul-searching announcement. I almost deferred to Diane Sawyer’s journalistic integrity to sniff out sincerity, and not serve as a shill for a new sur-reality show starring Jenner’s genitalia. But alas, we were all scammed by the man whose glistening grin once graced a box of Wheaties. As for Diane, well…she once worked for Richard Nixon, the master of the national emotional con game.

The Hollywood Reporter’s story which ran on the same day of the heavily promoted ABC-TV Jenner/Sawyer interview, detailed that Bruce had already inked an agreement with E! Entertainment TV to do an 8-part “docu-series” about his transgender journey. Somehow, Loose with the Truth Bruce forgot to mention that tiny detail in his two hour heart-to-heart with Diane. Somehow, Sawyer forgot to bring it up as she looked into his crocodile-teary eyes. Maybe she didn’t know; maybe Jenner’s new reality-show deal—being produced by the same two producers who keep shoveling us “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,”–wasn’t signed until after the show was taped. Or maybe, just maybe, the bigger deal for ABC was to air the interview—which was a ratings romp over all other programs in that timeslot —by agreeing not to mention that Bruce and E! had a contract in hand as a condition of Jenner not jumping with his interview to a competing network.   Surely, Comcast, the owner of BOTH E! and NBC, had to know it’s Entertainment Network had been negotiating a new deal for yet another reality show featuring a Kardashian castoff. Network deals are not done overnight, and Comcast is the type of tightly run company where every deal is carefully scrutinized by its corporate lawyers.

For Jenner, it was like winning a Triathalon . He had a contract in hand with E! to pay him handsomely. His sex-change would be handled as a “docu-series”—a serious reality show; AND he took into his confidence, and his clothes closet, the credible former ABC Nightly News Anchor Diane Sawyer to serve as such a sympathetic salesperson. How could the slippery scheme be dismissed as just another extended series of Kardashian classlessness, if it were so subtly sewn into Diane Sawyer’s sophisticated hemline?

ABC got the botox injection of ratings it mainlines, Comcast/NBC/Universal got two hours of free Superbowl-style hype for an upcoming E! reality series starring Jenner’s genitals, and Jenner got….. an Olympic-sized Gold Cup overflowing with money, Diane Sawyer’s sugary sympathy, and a grateful nation of voyeurs turning our lonely eyes to him, once again.

Will this All-American hero/heroine donate a sizeable portion of his “Jenscam” (or “Genscam”) proceeds to counseling & healthcare services for transgender youth around the world? Will he use his new fame and fortune to fund anti-violence campaigns against the LGBT community, or at least to educate his fellow Republicans about sex, sexuality, gender and equality?

Will ABC devote part of the network’s financial windfall from the Jenner interview to do an 8-part “docu-series” on the lives of transgendered youth?

Will Diane Sawyer be fired—a la Brian Williams—for being duped, and missing the story of Jenner’s pre-existing contract with E! to bare all?

Don’t touch that touch screen…







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