Once the talk show host was mayor of Cincinnati. Now he's mayor of Sodom.
The show shouldn't be criticized for presenting disgusting behavior, because television doesn't create values, it only reflects them. Click below for his unctuous commentary on this.
Springer actually teaches moral lessons. Bad guests--e.g., wife beaters--are booed. Springer himself closes each episode with a "Final Thought," a sermonette that makes it clear how little he thinks of his guests.
S pringer's excuses are halfhearted (not to mention contradictory--it's not consistent to say that television doesn't create values, then lecture your audience about values).
But mostly Springer doesn't bother with justifications: He smiles and admits the truth about the Jerry Springer Show. It's "stupid human tricks." "It's all stupid. We're all idiots." "It's bubble gum." He has said that kids shouldn't watch it and that he himself has never watched it.
Most articles about Springer describe this bad-mouthing as "self-effacement." But it's not. It's more like self-loathing. Once upon a time, Springer was an idealist: He hoped to change the world through politics, to lead Ohio out of a recession. He cast himself as on-air adviser to half a million Cincinnati TV viewers. Now he is the ringleader of a circus of morons, the host of a TV show he doesn't like and doesn't believe in.
Springer hopes to redeem himself, but it's a lost cause. He wants to be a political science professor when his contract runs out in 2002. Imagine that: Jerry Springer, professor of political theory and teen hookers. Last year Jerry attempted a return to the straight world. A Chicago TV station hired him to deliver the kind of commentary that made him so beloved in Cincinnati a decade ago. But the station's anchor and chief correspondent chose to resign rather than share air time with Springer. He delivered only two commentaries--one a bitter rant against "elitists" who condemned him--before the public outcry drove him to quit. He slunk back to his rabble--the losers, pervs, and exhibitionists--the only folks who might still listen to his advice.
David Plotz is the Editor of Slate. He's the author of The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank and Good Book. He appears on Slate's Political Gabfest.