'Scandal' vs. Scandals

Those of us who have been watching the “not so upfront” Obama Administration this week rather than the upfront presentations by TV networks in New York should not be surprised that a show about White House scandals, as in ABC’s Scandal, had its best ratings outing ever Thursday night.

It was also the most tweeted episode, according to ABC, with over 500,000 comments. In fact, ABC’s “fallen idol”– the president in Scandal has “briefs of clay” — and descends from there — beat out the finale of American Idol, which recorded 366,061 tweets, according to ABC.

The resonance of that ABC show’s title and the current White House problems was not lost on CNN, which featured an interview on Thursday with show creator Shonda Rhimes about its popularity on the dial and in social media. That was on Jake Tapper’s The Lead, which, if I am not mistaken, is attempting to add a spoonful of Jon Stewart-like attitude to make the news go down a little more easily.

While ABC’s Scandal is over for the season, the ones down in Washington continue to have more legs than a centipede, with hearings, further investigations into the IRS and calls for shield laws in the wake of the Administration’s aggressive pursuit of phone records and Republican calls for thousands more emails on the Benghazi incident. Then there are all the groups trying to capitalize on them to push various agendas.

I am not making this up (I could, but in this case I am not). I got an email from the press flak for a Yale Law School scholar providing his views on what George Washington would have done if he were here today. Among those, I was told, would be to “commence impeachment proceedings over the IRS partisanship, Libya and AP spying.” Now, if Washington had done that as president, wouldn’t he be commencing proceedings against himself? But, anyway, it’s just that kind of town.

Ah, if only the real “scandals” in Washington could be wrapped up in an hour, or is it 44 minutes these days? I would even sit through the commercials to be able to move on to tackling issues like the deficit and poverty and disease and all those other far less sexy subjects.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.