What Hath Roger Clemens Wrought? - InformationWeek

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2/13/2008
05:34 PM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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What Hath Roger Clemens Wrought?

Nothing hammers home how the Web has become the de facto national fireplace than today's congressional hearing on steroids. Both of New York's morning tabloids -- the News and the Post -- featured big ads from CNN, teasing readers to "Watch Roger Clemens' Testimony LIVE. At your desk." That collective giant mouse click you heard was employers everywhere getting ripped off.

Nothing hammers home how the Web has become the de facto national fireplace than today's congressional hearing on steroids. Both of New York's morning tabloids -- the News and the Post -- featured big ads from CNN, teasing readers to "Watch Roger Clemens' Testimony LIVE. At your desk." That collective giant mouse click you heard was employers everywhere getting ripped off.Think about it: There's something fundamentally very wrong when you're faced with a choice of tuning out your job to tune in the Clemens show -- and when the latter is so compelling you pretty much can't stop yourself, even if you wanted to. And let's face it; it's not just quote-unquote "workers." Everyone's tuning in and logging on, including the bosses themselves.

Indeed, l'affaire Clemens is simply the latest event in the longest running must-see reality TV series ever. It's the occasional show I call "Car Wreck Television," which began with the Fawn Hall-Oliver North testimony in 1988, popped up again with Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearings in 1992, and reached its apotheosis with the O.J. Simpson Bronco ride in 1994.

Now that the Web is in play as an alternate venue for viewing these events, I'm betting we can expect more daytime spectacles. After all, if the medium is the message, then the Web will demand more -- and more compelling -- live video. That's an appetite which can't be sated by corporate Webcasts.

Me, I happened to be at a business lunch today, where I could only see Clemens's testimony out of the corner of my eye, without sound. On the other hand, news travels so fast nowadays that I'd already heard his sure-to-be immortal line about how teammate Andy Pettitte had "misremembered" what Clemens had told him about doing human growth hormone.

Even if you believe Clemens (and I don't, though I guess I should note that I'm a Mets fan, despite the fact that that has no bearing on my assessment of his veracity), you can't help but wonder why he'd put himself through such a circus. Even the famous, it seems, can't step away from the camera.

If you missed any of it, CNN has posted video from the hearings here.

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