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Mike Hegedus Headshot

Rick Meet Icarus, Or How the Bright Light of Daily Can Melt the Wax Wings of Cable Fame

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Be careful what you wish for, because it just might come true. Or, how reporting from the "pit" can turn into the "pits."

How much better can it get for an obscure, at best, cable TV "reporter"? A shot at the "bigs" -- a guest spot on The Daily Show with John Stewart? Show up -- take a few shots and move on. That's what Rick Santelli should have done but didn't. Why he canceled, or had it canceled for him, his scheduled appearance on arguably one of the most popular shows on cable we don't know. Likely it wasn't really for the reason doled out by CNBC -- "...the story had moved on..." What story? That is the real problem.

Santelli's "rant" as it has become known, against parts of the Obama stimulus package, most notably those portions aimed at struggling home owners, is well documented. There is an entire "journalism" discussion that can, and probably should, go on about it. Should reporters "vent" on TV? What and who is really a "reporter"? If I remember correctly one well-known "reporter" actually wrote a haiku and read it on the air during his coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Goodness.

But I digress. Once he'd blown off steam and there was some -- actually a lot by cable and Internet standards -- reaction to his antics from the public, Santelli was viewed in some corners as the modern version of the character Howard Beale in the 1976 classic, Network.

So far so good, except, you have to know when to let go -- know your limitations. But that's tough when you live on the fringes of TV, particularly now when ad sales are down and being a broadcaster in general is difficult to say the least. So CNBC and NBC just wouldn't let it go. Once you see your name in the New York Times, once you're mentioned at a White House press briefing, once you're accused of being involved in a "conspiracy" (what the hell was that about?) -- the whole thing takes on a life of its own. You are somebody!

Aye, there's the rub. Because eventually someone will ask the simple question -- Who? What is this really all about? What are the facts? And when that happens you have to have answers. Explain yourself. It's what happens when the light of day is shone on the fringes and you have to move out of the "pit" and into the mainstream. That light can get very hot and you have to be ready for that eternal question -- "Who's your Daddy?"