More Messages: Giving Us the Business

The October 19 Message column dealt with the shrinking percentage of local newscasts devoted to business news. In response, Channel 7 "consumer champ" Bill Clarke penned a persnickety letter to the editor suggesting that yours truly didn't understand the difference between simply reading business-oriented headlines and original business journalism. He also took umbrage at a joke about the sort of consumer stories that pop up so frequently these days. "I've checked all my scripts for the last five and a half years," he wrote, "and I can't find one that covers those 'vacuum cleaners that suck well' that Roberts describes."

Maybe not, but betcha Clarke came across a pile of supermarket-oriented items about the best deals on produce, and only a real vegetable would mistake them for real business reporting. Still, he outdid himself with Wednesday's package about the Lexus LS 460L, a de facto commercial for the luxury car that ate up a ridiculous percentage of the program on which it appeared.

The hook for the piece was a new feature that allows the auto to parallel park itself, and Clarke did mention one caveat, noting that the procedure is time- consuming. However, he gushed about another improvement -- one that maintains a set distance between the Lexus and the vehicle in front of it -- and went on and on and friggin' on about the sedan's fabulous styling and luxurious appointments during a live intro and an endless taped segment. Then, to make matters worse, the presentation wrapped up with anchor Mike Landess joining Clarke at curbside to heap more compliments on the car. Had either of them brought a chamois, they could have washed the damn thing with all the drool spilling out of their yaps.

If that's Clarke's idea of giving viewers the business, include me out. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts