Roker Holds Star's Hand

Should we look for Matt Lauer to close his next interview of Condi Rice by clasping her hands? Perhaps a verklempt Dick Cheney thanking Campbell Brown for "standing by me through every crisis"? Could be, judging by Al Roker's interview of Star Jones this morning.

OK. Star isn't Secretary of State. She's someone who got bounced as co-host of a televised coffee klatsch. Even so, some of the journalistic values on display were eye-brow raising. For openers, what does it say about Today's news values that the interview, stretching across two half-hours and three segments, was the longest this veteran Today watcher can remember?

And then there was the personal relationship between Al and Star. The flag first went up when Star thanked Al for having phoned her with information: "I actually remember a phone call when you saw something in the paper that I had not even seen that was pretty nasty."

Later, in discussing Star's reluctance to publicly acknowledge that her dramatic weight loss was the result of bariatric surgery, Jones made clear just how friendly she and Al are:

"You've been holding my hand, recommending my doctors, standing by me throughout every single health crisis that I've had."

And speaking of holding hands, as you'll see, that's just how the interview ended.

In fairness, Al did ask a number of probing questions on a range of issues. And again, this is more soap opera than shooting war. Even so, the story involves the reputations and careers of a variety of individuals, and the corporate interests of some major players. Should we expect the same journalistic standards to be observed that we demand - if too rarely obtain - in the treatment of "hard" news?

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.