Columns » Chris Rose

Anchors Away

It's hard to know where to begin to deconstruct the recent penis flap over at ABC 26 News


  The first challenge is to avoid inserting a double entendre into every sentence. This is harder than it sounds — as is plainly evident; I'm three sentences into this thing and I've already managed to come up with inadvertent flaps, insertions and hardness.

  I'm not doing this on purpose, I swear.

  You try it. You try telling the story of WGNO-TV anchorman Michael Hill's spectacular verbal folly at Channel 26 earlier this month; try telling it without a whole bunch of squirming, handwringing and many, many euphemisms.

  I'm telling you, this story's got entendres and euphemisms like Old McDonald's got horses and cows.

  And maybe a more discriminating writer would simply eschew the topic altogether, would avoid stooping so low to gather such common fodder for presentation to the unwashed masses in an otherwise respectable periodical such as Gambit.

  But I am not that discriminating reporter. Not even close, in fact.

  So here we go:

  I presume you know the back story or, at least, some of it. Seems like everyone in America with a laptop has glimpsed at least some portion of Hill's groundbreaking expository journalism.

  It began on the May 12 evening broadcast. ABC 26 reporter Catherine Shreves presented a straightforward account of a new medical procedure that allows some women to enjoy orgasms mo' better.

  Simple enough. Real news. Useful information. No reason to giggle or gaffe. Let's move on. Until. ...

  Until Hill opined about the subject of Shreves' report, saying: "So she's enjoying penis a little bit more?"

  Pause. Hear the ticking of the clock.

  Shreves and co-anchor Jessica Holly — to their credit — did their best not to fall out of their chairs. They both mumbled stuff along the lines of yeah, you right Michael whatever ... what a stupid question ... please go to commercial break please ... it's very warm in here ... thank you.

  Something like that. And, needless to say, by midnight, Hill, Shreves and Holly were YouTube sensations. Big time. Right up there with "David after the Dentist." Which is weird. I mean, it's 2010. Certainly a guy can say "penis" on television without everybody going to pieces, no?

  Apparently not. Then again, Hill wasn't finished.

  Two nights later, Mr. Inappropriate was at it again.

  Now, I'm not sure who's running the assignment desk at 26, but whoever it is has stones. Because that night, Hill was assigned to introduce a feature about a "study" that says men in New Orleans have the biggest penises in America.

  (Did I tell you that it's ratings sweeps month in the television business; the time of year when local news teams roll out their best and biggest projects of the year? I should have added that — especially since the survey Channel 26 was reporting on is about four months old now. Motto: A good story never goes stale.)

  Anyway, Hill began the segment: "New Orleans now ranks as the most well-endowed city."

  Pausing, he then asked co-anchor Holly, once again caught in the hot seat: "Should I say what that means or just ... "

  "I think they understand!" Holly interjected, before Hill could let another "penis" escape from his lips. (OK, that one I kinda did on purpose.)

  Following reporter Molly Rosenblatt's obligatory man-in-the-street interviews with a bunch of local douchebags who said New Orleans is ranked No. 1 in penis size because they live here, Hill wrapped up the piece by giving some state rankings (Louisiana is seventh) adding: "Dangling at the bottom — Wyoming."

  Badoom! A YouTube sequel. Local news in a whole new light. And the question arises: Um, Michael: Whatthehellwereyouthinking?

  Simple, really. "One of our producers double-dared me to say it," Hill told a colleague of mine here at Gambit last week. "And I don't need to be double-dared to do anything."

  Walter Cronkite, are you listening?

  A little skeptical — put your career on the line for a double-dare? — I cultivated my own source inside Channel 26, my own Deep Throat, if you will, and Hill's account was not only corroborated, but Hill might have been downplaying the gravitas that spawned what has become one of New Orleans television's instant classics.

  "He wasn't just double-dared," my source said. "He was double-dog-dared! What else was the guy supposed to do?"

  Indeed. That certainly explains it. I understand much better now. Well, except for the part about Louisiana ranking seventh overall.

  C'mon Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Shreveport: Man up!

Editor's note: Rose also draws a check from WVUE-Fox 8 News, one of ABC-26's competitors.


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