PrimeTime Live scored a big hit for their sweeps month by airing the alleged dirty laundry of the American Idol TV show.

Put another way, tabloid television has reached a new low point.

Unable to come up with a compelling TV program of its own, PTL decided to trash the highest rated show. I guess the best offense is to be offensive.

In case you’ve been living in a box and haven’t heard the dope, PTL interviewed a former contestant who claimed to have received favors, advice and sex with a judge on Idol. The contestant also is trying to promote his new album – coincidentally.

If it looks like sleeze and smells like sleeze, it just might well be sleeze.

Imagine if the former contestant had called up the show and said, “Do a segment on me and my new album.” They would have hung up the phone on him.

But if he said “I can help you get more viewers. All we have to do is trash somebody’s reputation and I have proof” then the tabloid TV is ready to send a film crew. Of course, they’ll promote the show a week in advance to build an audience as they build suspense. Then they’ll tell a few newspapers about the most serious charges a day before so they can really get an audience.

All at the expense of someone’s reputation. I might add that the person being trashed actually helped him! Imagine if someone did something bad to this guy. Watch out!

Before I go too far, I’m sure some readers will say, “But it is true. It happened. It is news.”

Okay. If it were really news, wouldn’t it be on the news tonight, and not held for a week to be seen on a tabloid show? Is this what investigative reporting has come to? Get a story, hold it for sweeps month and cash in at the ratings game? On the morality scale, that’s just a tad better than gossip.

Now we’re back to the lessons you can learn from this:

1. TV is all about ratings. If you can help them, they’ll tell your story. But be careful you don’t get chewed up by the story. I believe this “singer” will not sell many albums and that he will be shunned by the industry and the audience.

2. Shows like this claim to be journalism, or at least people see it as journalism. And that lowers the standard for shows and newspapers that really try to present news in a serious manner.