(portions published in the July 25, 1999 Plain Dealer in response to the July 21, 1999 editorial on Jerry Springer's possible bid for the Senate)
July 21, 1999
Let me make my feelings clear upfront: I detest The Jerry Springer Show. I find its themes absurd, sensationalist, and idiotic. However, as an educator, I cannot blame him for “hurting our country” any more than I can blame dime novels or comic books for any moral decline in the Thirties, Forties, or Fifties. I merely take what I consider to be the sanest course of action—I refuse to watch his show.
But what I find even more troublesome than the content of Mr. Springer’s show is your dismissive and sloppy July 21 editorial “Sen. Springer? Say it’s a joke.” Regardless of what I think of Springer’s show, Springer the man must be the most important factor in considering his fitness for the U. S. Senate. (Was Bedtime for Bonzo the overriding factor in determining Ronald Reagan’s fitness to serve as California’s governor or President of the United States? Should it have been?)
A Jerry Springer campaign for Senate should be no more surprising or ridiculous than the political campaigns of other “entertainers” such as actors Ronald Reagan and Fred Grandy, football players Jack Kemp and Steve Largent, basketball player Bill Bradley, singer/songwriter Sonny Bono, wrestler Jesse Ventura, TV commentator Pat Buchanan, and publisher Steve Forbes. Unlike those mentioned on the preceding list, Springer is noteworthy due to the fact that he would not just be an entertainer-turned-politician, but a politician-turned-entertainer-turned-politician.
While Sandy Theis’ July 20 front page story did mention that Springer had served on Cincinnati’s City Council and was a seven-time Emmy Award winner for commentary at Cincinnati’s WLWT-TV, it did not mention the most significant accomplishment on his political résumé: that he served as the city’s mayor. Your July 21 editorial said next to nothing of Springer’s political experience and simply placed him in the same class as “Mickey Mouse and Howdy Doody.”
Springer is the first to admit that he has “the stupidest show on television” which, as your editorial points out, “has brought him notoriety and wealth.” But much of that wealth was needed to raise a severely handicapped daughter. Springer remains very active with organizations such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund.
The inability or unwillingness of “Ohio’s Largest Newspaper” to thoroughly research and thoughtfully criticize a potential Senatorial candidate’s experience is more harmful to society than a thousand Jerry Springer Shows.
Milton Alan Turner