Network TV

Local Perspectives on Celebrity Scandal and Damage Control

Dec 8, 2014
Dave / Flickr

Long considered one of America’s most beloved comedians, Bill Cosby is scheduled to perform in Pittsburgh this coming February. However, Cosby has been receiving a lot of negative press lately for allegations of sexual misconduct.

He is the latest in a long line of childhood heroes and lovable icons mired in scandal.

Pop culture contributor Joe Wos shared a brief history of celebrity scandal, from 1920’s silent movie actor Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, to kiddie-show icons Paul Reubens, known by many as Pee-wee Herman and Kevin Clash, who played Elmo on Sesame Street for almost 30 years.

Wos says Reubens is a great example of someone who managed to turn his negative public image around after the scandal broke. He says that’s partially because Reubens’ crime was victimless.

But for celebrities like Cosby, who portray themselves on TV and in real life, as having a higher moral standing, Wos says when those people fall from grace, “I hate to say that there’s some enjoyment in it but there is a sense that he was put in his place. When you set yourself up to lead by example, you better be Mr. Rogers.”

Damage Control

Considering the media’s obsession with the cult of celebrity and scandal, is it any wonder that American TV viewers have become obsessed with the ABC drama “Scandal”? Millions watch Olivia Pope “handle” and “fix” the reputations and images of high profile clients each Thursday night.

But in real life what does it take to repair one’s image after falling from grace?

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Wikipedia

This week the major television networks each release their respective schedules for the fall, schedules that will include new shows ABC, CBS, and NBC hope will win back their audience.

Given the availability of streaming sites such as Netflix and the quality of content on cable channels, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s television writer Rob Owen said the public is tuning in less and less to the major networks. The networks have tried a variety of programming to try and boost sagging ratings, and this year we're seeing major changes in late night TV hosts. And according to Owen, the major networks are still important.  “I do think that that broadcast networks matter because really its all about the content. Even if people aren’t watching on the linear broadcast channel, they are watching it, online, on demand, something like that.”