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Debatable Television

And Sinclair's sleazy move

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You all know what it's like to have an overflowing inbox and you have to get that information out. Home readers, that's where we stand this week, so with a nod toward the former USA Today columnist/talk show host Larry King, here are some short subjects worth catching up on.

It's official. Televised political debates make me break out in a rash and give me anxiety rushes. The media buildup is one thing, and the actual event is another. But it's the post-debate babble that really gets me itchy. Pundits and party spin ho's almost seemed like they were scoring a boxing match. The terminology print and broadcast uses fits the prizefight mentality: "struck a blow," "got in a few jabs," and "didn't deliver the knockout punch." Despite it all, expect people to go to the polls in droves.

The FCC refused to step in, but the Sinclair Broadcasting Group is getting away with running an anti-John Kerry film they're labeling as a news program on its stations in 39 TV markets. If a broadcast network chose to run Fahrenheit 9/11, the reaction by the GOP would furious, and the decision to air it would be just as wrong. They're both propaganda posing as film -- seems like in this bitter election season of 2004, journalistic ethics are just something you write an essay about in college.

The North Carolina gubernatorial debate on October 15 showed some skill by moderator David Crabtree, a Raleigh TV news anchor, and bitchy repartee between two eastern North Carolina guys that seem far, far removed from Charlotte. Kind of like the difference between Eastern and Western style barbecue. The debate, though, contained too much gristle, not enough flavor.

The big "reveal" happens October 29 on the TLC cable network, as The Link's Matt Harris is the subject of the What Not To Wear makeover show. In August, Matt was ambushed by the show's hosts and traveled to New York to get "made over" and spend $5K for new clothes. All the free T-shirts and cargo shorts went into the dumpster. The radio station plans to have a viewing party, so check their website for the where and when, which was still being worked out as we went to press. Watch as metrosexual-looking Matt emerges from the rubble, a fashion phoenix reborn.

Stay tuned.

E-mail at Shannon.Reichley@cln.com

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