The Jerry Springer election

Published 1:43 pm Saturday, October 29, 2016

“I can’t take it anymore. This stupid presidential election has turned into a lousy Jerry Springer show.”

“Ah, yes, you speak of a series of salacious stories about Donald Trump, as well as Hillary and Bill Clinton. Story after story is being published daily. It’s certainly getting ugly out there.”

“You got that right. First we hear a recording of a boorish Trump talking about his weakness for beautiful women, and all of a sudden, nine women come out of the woodwork accusing him of groping them. If there is one word I hope to never hear again in a presidential election, ‘groping’ is it.”

“I couldn’t agree more. It is also disheartening that so many stories about Bill Clinton’s peccadilloes keep making the news.”

“I thought I was burned out on Bill Clinton’s alleged extracurricular activities when he retired from the White House in January 2001. Now that Hillary is running for president, various news outlets keep reporting his more recent alleged activities — activities I don’t want to know about.”

“What you say is true. Various gossip rags and other ‘legitimate’ news outlets are reporting that other women are coming forward, accusing Bill of untoward behavior or worse. One young man has come forward, claiming that Bill impregnated his mother, a lady of the night, and that he is Bill’s son.”

“Stop. Please. We have so much at stake in this country. Our debt will soon pass $20 trillion. Entitlement spending is about to explode. Economic growth has been horrible. ObamaCare has driven insurance premiums through the roof for millions of middle-class Americans and is likely to collapse under its own weight. If we don’t address these issues, a world of hurt awaits us. Yet our focus is in the gutter?”

“Then you surely won’t want to hear the latest gossip-rag report on Hillary. According to the National Enquirer, Hillary had a bagman set up trysts between her and —”

“Please. God. Stop. Look, one of the great tragedies of our time is that there is so little distinction between the gossip rags and the legitimate news outlets. Whether you like or dislike Trump, it is tragic that our allegedly objective press is clearly in the tank for Hillary. It’s hard to know whose reporting to trust anymore.”

“Your words evoke great sadness in me — sadness for our country. As you say, with all the challenges our country faces, why do we let the politicians and the press get us lathered up about various allegations, when so many real issues and challenges are at stake?”

“A better question is why do we keep falling for it? All of this ‘gotcha’ journalism is killing us.”

“Former Democrat presidential candidate Gary Hart agrees with your assessment. In 1984, everyone expected him to become the Democrat nominee, but his hopes were dashed when The Miami Herald reported his alleged extramarital affair with a 29-year-old lady, Donna Rice.”

“I remember that story. It was a turning point in political reporting in America.”

“Well, Hart says that as the media have become more intrusive in people’s private lives, ‘an awful lot of people of quality choose not to seek public office. And that is reflected in the decline in the caliber and quality of people in public service, unfortunately.’”

“Which means only second-rate candidates like Trump and Hillary would have the gumption to put themselves through this circus?”

“Exactly. And the combination of our unreliable, gossipy press and second-rate candidates is the reason the presidential election has turned into a lousy Jerry Springer show.”

TOM PURCELL, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood” and “Wicked Is the Whiskey,” is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. Send comments to Tom at