Sweeps Unchained

Rad Berky got armed and dangerous. Carmel Cafiero got Joe Gersten. Ike Seamans got a heart attack. And we watched it all.

Anchor comments: Khambrel Marshall: "Quite an eye-opening report." +5. Ileana Varela: "It's incredible.... Sports is up next with some good news about the Dolphins." +15

Alliterative title: +10
Hidden camera: +10
Unintentional irony: As Gillen stands in a Mexican field documenting the horrors of child labor, she appears to be wearing Nike running shoes. -20

Intangibles: Exceptionally evocative music. +10.
Total score: 80

Title: "Outgunned ... by Criminals"
Station: Channel 10
Reporter: Rad Berky
Date: October 30

People who purchase firearms at gun shows do not have to submit to a criminal background check. "From the streets to the schoolyard, it seems we're ALWAYS hearing stories about someone who's been killed by a gun," leads anchor Dwight Lauderdale. "It's so bad," continues co-anchor Kristi Krueger, "that Florida's coming to be known as the Gunshine State."

A hidden camera carried into a West Palm Beach gun show reveals an assistant producer buying a 9mm handgun. Afterward, Berky ambushes the seller: "Can I ask you a question? A quick question?" Berky demands as he runs over to the seller's car. "We're doing a story on gun shows. We just saw the gun sold without a permit, no paperwork."

The seller's Cadillac peels away in a gray fog of rubber with Berky in halfhearted pursuit.

Hidden camera: +10
Ambush: +10
Props: 1 Chinese-made assault rifle. +10
Alliterative title: 0
Live, local, or late-breaking: Nope. 0
Intangibles: "Gunshine State." -15

At the beginning of the piece, the title is displayed over footage of a body being wheeled through a hospital corridor as someone wails in pain. +15

Berky, shown at a gun range, appears to be a good shot. +5
Total score: 85

Title: "Lost Pets"
Station: Channel 7
Reporter: Patrick Frazier
Date: October 31

"Stolen," shrieks the introduction. "For science, money, or someone's sick obsession. Tonight the Night Team's graphic story of 'Lost Pets.' We should probably warn you: This one could be disgusting." (A heads-up the station failed to give for the aforementioned "Video Violence," which included footage of the triple homicide.)

Frazier explains that pets are sometimes stolen, mostly in the Midwest. No numbers are available for South Florida. "And remember," he concludes, "take care of your pet. You don't ever want to experience ... coming home and finding it gone."

Alliterative title: 0
Ambush: 0
Hidden camera: 0
Sex: 0
Intangibles: Cute puppies. +40
Total score: 90

Title: "Stalking the Great Skunk Ape"
Station: Channel 4
Reporter: John Deutzman
Date: October 31-November 1

"Intriguing" new evidence has emerged concerning the Great Skunk Ape, a Bigfoot-type creature rumored to live in the Everglades.

"Tell you what, maybe I'm just a moron, guys," Deutzman opens convincingly, "but I've lived here nine years and I've never heard of the Great Skunk Ape thing until recently, but I'll tell you what, one thing's for sure, there's definitely something going on out there."

The "evidence" consists primarily of a blurry videotape of what appears to be John Deutzman wearing a gorilla costume. After interviewing befuddled tour guides, camping overnight with renowned skeptic the Amazing Randi, and flying above the Everglades in Chopper4, Deutzman reveals that the videotape is actually of him wearing a gorilla costume.

Talking Head: Gift shop owner David Shealy, who says, "There's absolutely no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this thing exists." +5

Alliterative title: 0
Ambush: 0
Hidden camera: 0
Sex: 0
Reporter participation: +10
Helicopter: +10
Intangibles: Boy-lover hater Deutzman admitting that he may be a moron. +30
The Amazing Randi sitting next to a campfire. +5
Total score: 110

Title: "What Is Politically Correct?"
Station: Channel 6
Reporter: A panel chaired by Tony Segreto
Date: November 6

Segreto and his co-workers grapple with the definition and significance of political correctness. "Years ago you wouldn't think twice about using the terms 'housewife,' 'cripple,' or 'Negro.' Well, today these words are considered 'insensitive.' They're not 'politically correct.' ... What is politically correct and what isn't? And what's the meaning of it all, anyway?"

Among the revelations: Reporter Danielle Knox prefers to be called black. Alicia Ortega's preferred label is Hispanic, because Latino and Latina have a negative connotation. Also, the Miami Herald "regularly holds style meetings, in part to keep its staff up-to-date on new politically correct terms so as not to offend readers."

Anchor chat: Jennifer Valoppi: "Certainly something we're sensitive to around here is the weather, so with that we turn it over to Roland Stedham." +60

Alliterative title: 0
Sex: 0
Ambush: 0

Intangibles: Segreto holds up his fingers and makes a "quote" sign when he says the term "politically correct." -10

Herald editor Steve Rothaus is shown with an earring in his left lobe. +15
Total score: 115

Title: "Gersten Down Under"
Station: Channel 7
Reporter: Carmel Cafiero
Date: November 10-12

The scoop of all time! Carmel Cafiero travels to Australia to track down the wayward former county commissioner who skipped town after a drugs-and-prostitution scandal erupted around him. Cafiero discovers that even halfway around the world, Gersten is still an arrogant prick.

The pair boat, hike, drive on the left side of the road, and fit Gersten with the ceremonial black robes and white wig that lawyers wear Down Under. Gersten explains why he has filed for political asylum.

"America is a foreign country to me. Australia is my home," he sniffs defiantly. "I wouldn't trade what I have now with what I had then for a million dollars."

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