PCLI hosts Jerry Springer

Television host Jerry Springer described his transition from news anchor to self-described circus ringmaster in a discussion with The Press Club of Long Island on Tuesday evening.

Speaking to PCLI members and students at Adelphi University’s Olmsted Theatre, Springer was humorously dismissive of his 21-year-old Jerry Springer Show, which he said was designed solely to showcase outrageous behavior purely for entertainment and had no socially redeeming value.

He called the show known for its over-the-top and out-of-control guests stupid but unique. But he said he enjoyed hosting it immensely, looking forward to the two days of weekly tapings that allowed him to pursue politics and other interests the rest of the time.

There is nothing like it, said the former mayor of Cincinnati, Emmy Award-winning news anchor and commentator and a former progressive radio talk show host with the now defunct Air America. It’s not obviously a talk show. It’s not theater. It’s not a sporting event. It’s totally unique. It’s a circus. [Guests] could come in looking like the minister’s daughter and by the time the show is over they’re hooting and hollering and screaming.

I know when I go to work they are going to hand me people who have done something out of the ordinary, he explained. This show I am hired to host, it’s about outrageousness.

The show is stupid, of course, Springer continued. I would never tell someone to watch it, but I would give the First Amendment as to why we shouldn’t have any censorship.

He added that his show gives exposure and a voice to a segment of the society that otherwise doesn’t get on television. When he started the show, he said, Everything was Friends, Seinfeld. That’s not the only people who are Americans.

The conversation with PCLI President Dominick Miserandino focused largely on media and its role in society. It seemed doing the news was exploitive, said the former political reporter and commentator on Cincinnati’s NBC affiliate, WLWT, where he was awarded 10 Emmys and worked until 1993. Later he became primary news anchor and managing editor.

Springer said his first news job, as well as every other subsequent media gig, was offered to him unsolicited after his mayoral term in Cincinnati ended. He said he always felt more comfortable doing commentary than reading the news.

With the news you never ask the person you’re reporting on whether it’s okay if I say this. There were too many cases where I had such a bad taste.

Springer, 68, said media is totally free in terms of what it’s allowed to do.

I think there is a self-imposed censorship brought about by economic reasons that is not always in the best interest of the country, he said. There is a self-censorship in the media that sometimes restrains the idea of open ideas.

What’s beautiful about the media today is that there are so many opportunities to get information. We as consumers have to be smart. [Content] is being written by some person or entity with a point of view. Just because it was said, just because it was printed, doesn’t mean it was the truth.

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