The Rigged Society

The Rigged Society

By now there is a whole repertoire of responses to the quiz fix. One hears a muffled mea cu/pa from the fixed and the fixers; some simulate indignation or cry on cue, while others demonstrate their know-how more creatively. One contestant, taking more time before the House Oversight Committee than he had on TV, viewed the congressional inquiry as an occasion “to empty his soul.” The process might have taxed a Zen Master’s patience.

To the “Old – Pros” on Ad Alley it’s all hocus-pocus. They know better. So do at least two witnesses, although one could bring himself to say so only from his sanctuary in Mexico. What they know—and Public Relations will eventually make it real for us all— is that until a disturbed young man upset the apple cart everyone was happy, that show biz is show biz, that illusion is its essence, that no crime was committed, and that we were all the richer in contentment or cash before this hullabaloo started.

The fix produced drama, excitement, battles, ties, cliff hangings and colossal audiences. In spite of an untoward interruption, the quiz show was a consummate example of program control designed to yield maximum ratings. Its lessons will not be lost. The prolonged contest between an idiot savant and a series of better-educated contestants was a master-stroke that by itself would justify the whole enterprise. Rehearsed quizes merely served to guarantee that there would be no great intrusi...

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