In addition to a raging debate in journalistic circles, the question of whether to reveal a rape victim's name, prompted by the incident at the Kennedy estate in Palm Beach, has resulted in some truly bizarre incidents on television.
At the top of the list was a segment on the tabloid show "A Current Affair" last week. Those smut and scandal mongers were actually baying loud and long about their journalistic ethics - trumpeting the fact that they hadn't revealed the woman's name.Imagine. "A Current Affair" taking NBC News and the New York Times to task for questionable reporting practices.
It boggles the mind.
Of course, the Fox-produced show (which airs locally weeknights at 10:35 on Ch. 13) didn't bother to mention that it has been beating this story mercilessly, dredging up all kinds of rumor and innuendo and broadcasting what it alleges to be a picture of a nude Sen. Ted Kennedy emerging from the surf at Palm Beach.
Ah, what pillars of journalistic ethics.NBC LOUDMOUTH: Speaking of big mouths, you may not be aware that Steve Friedman, who used to be the loudmouthed, obnoxious, boastful executive producer of the "Today" show is now the loudmouthed, obnoxious, boastful executive producer of the "NBC Nightly News."
Friedman's latest antics are reprehensible, but not surprising to anyone who's paid attention to this guy's career.
First, he approved the use of the alleged rape victim's name - and despite all the reasoning behind it (it had been widely reported in the tabloid press) that's still questionable ethics at best.
Then, defending his move on a New York radio call-in show, Friedman made a big point of saying that ABC's "Nightline" had also used the woman's name.
What he didn't say was that it was his boss, NBC News President Michael Gartner, who used the alleged victim's last name twice the previous night while being interviewed by Ted Koppel - just after ABC had explained that its policies prohibit revealing the name.
What a feeling of trust in NBC News this series of incidents should leave all viewers with.LOWERING STANDARDS: Although Friedman denies it, there does seem to be rather a shift in the direction of "NBC Nightly News" since he took over.
For example, NBC was the only one of the three networks to broadcast the tabloidish Merv Griffin palimony story last week on its flagship evening newscast.
While it's still difficult to accept "A Current Affair" looking down on NBC News, the two do seem to be looking each other more in the eye these days.DOUBLE STANDARD: One item nearly lost in this story is the double standard that has been applied to the alleged victim and the alleged rapist.
Alleged is the operative word here. It has not yet been proved that a rape occurred, and - as of this writing - no one has been charged with a crime.
Most news organizations have declined to name the alleged victim. But few if any have hesitated to name William Kennedy Smith as a suspect in the sexual assault.
Once again, Smith has not been charged with a crime. It's possible that he may never be charged with a crime. It's possible that the crime never occurred.
But Smith's name has been splashed all over television, radio and the newspapers. Even if he's never charged at all, the label of "rapist" will probably follow him forever.
Apparently, a lot of Americans believe that the Kennedys have received special treatment in this case because of their fame and power. As a long-distance observer, it's difficult to tell if that's true or not.
But one thing that is certain is that the fascination with the Kennedys has resulted in the release of Smith's name as a suspect without any charges being filed.
That's special treatment - but not the kind of special treatment anyone would want.NEW HOST: KSL, which has been looking for a new co-host for its "Focus" program since Jay Kolls defected to KUTV, has finally found one - Steve Eager.
And if that name sounds familiar to you, you've probably followed baseball in Utah.
Eager was an all-state catcher at Orem High before moving on to play for UVCC and BYU. He then spent three years in the Detroit Tigers' minor-league operation before moving on to TV news, where he reported and anchored for KYMA in Yuma, Ariz., for a year and at KVBC in Las Vegas for the past three years.
Eager joins Shelley Osterloh on the hourlong public affairs/news program, which airs weekdays at 8 a.m.