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Seth Greenland

Seth Greenland

Posted: March 17, 2008 06:55 PM

The Diane Sawyer Hooker Special


According to an item in the New York Daily News, Diana Sawyer's show about prostitution (aka the Hooker Special) is being removed from the ABC shelf, dusted off, and given an air date.

Thank-you ABC, for finally confirming that there is a great deal of prostitution in America, where finding a high-priced hooker is easier than locating an Applebee's.

Since prostitution is, anecdotally at least, an area where we might still actually be #1, the initial reluctance of ABC to run the Sawyer show is a surprise. But even though they are hanging it on a particularly radioactive current event, I hope they don't think it's anything resembling news.

The rich and powerful Governor of New York went to a prostitute?

It would be more surprising if he had balanced the state budget.

Forgetting its value as tragedy, comedy, or a combination of both, the idea that a married man of means hired a hooker is about as newsworthy as spring in Central Park (It's pretty, alert the media!), although in today's world it's a great excuse for a television special. Everything here is Dog Bites Man. Even the now ex-Governor's mea culpa had a kabuki aspect to it. The flag, the wronged wife stapled to his elbow, the contrition.

Cue the mob with the pitchforks and torches.

And cue Diane.

I am not an expert on prostitution -- that would be too difficult to explain to the other parents at 8th Grade Back to School Night -- but I have just written a novel about the field. During the course of my research (on the Internet!), I learned that it remains extremely popular. A Google search of the words "escort services" comes up with an eye-popping 2,390,000 hits. Even if we assume doubling, tripling, quadrupling of listings, there is nonetheless an awful lot of sex for sale. A true sign of the economic viability of these sites: Enterprising lawyers advertise on them. I believe this is called "fishing in a stocked pond".

Like the weather, prostitution is everywhere, not just places we associate with bad behavior. If you live in Des Moines, Iowa, there are prostitutes there. If you live in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, ditto. And have these people ever adapted! In today's America, how difficult it is to arrange an assignation? Apparently, getting a prostitute to come to your house is as easy ordering Chinese food and -- good news for all hired sex enthusiasts -- considerably less fattening.

I realize some people consider this is a painful topic for making light. But the farcical aspect of Mr. Spitzer's downfall is as unavoidable as the quick reaction of Edward R. Murrow's old network.

Other than huge ratings for Diane Sawyer, and sales of "Kristen's" song on MySpace, what good can possibly come from this? Human beings are flawed and that, admittedly, provides great entertainment value. But aren't there terrorists to catch? Wait, here's an idea -- the Pentagon can contact the Emperor's VIP Club, order seventy-two virgins, air-lift them to Waziristan, where bin-Laden is allegedly hiding...

We're all entitled to our fantasies. Now that's a special for ABC.