In between news about Libya and oil prices, Fox News ran a headline on actor Charlie Sheen on Monday: "Sheen: I'm on a Drug, It's Called Charlie Sheen."
Moments later, Fox's Neil Cavuto made a tie between Sheen and congressional budget issues with this headline: "Critics Claim Sheen in Denial & Congress in Spending Denial." He makes fun of himself, referencing his "brilliant Charlie Sheen analogy," but the headline survives.
ABC's Good Morning America,"promotes an "exclusive interview" with Sheen with this promo: "Charlie Sheen Says He Will Sue: The actor talks frankly in an exclusive interview with ABC's Andrea Canning." ABC ran the interview with this across the screen: "The Sheen interview." If that wasn't enough, it added: "Exclusive: Sheen to Sue CBS."
People magazine ran a headline on the news with a slideshow: "Charlie Sheen's Most Shocking Moments."
As a journalist, I'd like to gently suggest bookers and journalists take a united position: Stop giving Sheen air time. Enough with the exclusives with Sheen. Enough with the headlines. Enough with the Charlie Sheen jokes.
Let's leave the man alone to get the help he so desperately needs. Even if he doesn't recognize it, we need to show some restraint and responsibility and, yes, protect him from himself.
To do otherwise is to exploit and mock another human being's troubles, just as we did when we ran after pop star Britney Spears during her mental health difficulties. It's clear Sheen is having problems.
His publicist, Stan Rosenfield, quit amidst the latest interviews, saying that he cares about Sheen "very much," but can't represent him effectively.
I don't know the ins and outs of drug addiction, but I do know a train wreck when I see one, and, as journalists, there does come a time when we need to care more about the tragedy than the story. I agree with journalist and screen writer Nancy Doyle Palmer, who writes, "Stop Broadcasting the Charlie Sheen Train Wreck."
Sheen isn't just an actor. He is a human being, and it would serve us well, as a society, if we take a deep breath, leave Sheen alone, politely decline any interviews he seeks to do and simply hope that he gets the help he needs.