Look to ABC, not Tea Party, for Bristol Palin answer

From the Z on TV blog:

As someone who has watched "Dancing with the Stars" regularly when the Sun was tracking one contestant or another, it is astonishing to me that there is anyone in the nation who doesn't think ABC and producers have rigged the numbers this season to advance Bristol Palin this far.

How could you not think that after seeing Kate Gosselin advance last season following her "dance" of the paso doble to "Paparazzi"?

There is no independent verification of the numbers that ABC bases its eliminations on -- none. The audience of millions takes ultimately the network's word on it. Why would anyone take the word of any TV network after the Quiz Show Scandals of the 1950s. On a more recent note, does anyone remember the game show Fox canceled last year on the eve of the first episode when reports surfaced that it was rigged?

The Disney folks have come to a keen insight about us as a nation: We are in a time when we would rather root against something than root for someone. We will tune in and root, root, root against contestants like Kate Gosselin and Bristol Palin, but once they are eliminated, many of us no longer care who wins or loses.

So, what's a little backstage cooking of the numbers to keep the buzz-making target of emotional viewing on the show an extra few weeks. As terrific a story line as Jennifer Gray is, do you think the ABC News and the Washington Post would be commissioning polls to see how people feel about Gray's dancing as they did this week on Palin.

And, by the way, does it not raise some questions about the state of our media today and its role as an agenda setter that these two organizations are spending their money on polls like this even as both are cutting back and losing some of their highest-priced and finest talent?

I think ABC has everything to gain, and almost nothing to lose by playing this game. I am sorry to see the Disney-owned entertainment division pulling its news operation into the circus tent this way, but that's the kind of media time we time in, isn't it?

Monday night, host Tom Bergeron did address the voting controversy that has arisen in connection with Palin. But he and the producers continue to act like it is all about Tea Party folks somehow gaming the system on behalf of Palin -- rather than the producers and ABC rigging the count.

Here are his words. Does this sound like ABC and the producers are worried about it?

"You may have noticed the subject of our voting has become a bit of a news story this week," Bergeron said Monday night. "Here's the deal: We tell you every week you have to vote for your favorites to win. If you don't vote, don't complain."

I think more people should complain about the lack of verification by ABC and Bergeron's bosses -- and stop being playing along with the latest version of TV quiz shows.

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