The first thing I thought when I heard that former KDKA-TV anchor Bruce Pompeani was accused of sexually harassing a Hopewell Township hairdresser was: I don't know whether these allegations are true or not, but, man, TV news folks are some horny-ass creatures.
Bruce may be innocent of all the allegations outlined in the police report. But I've worked at local stations in six markets, and there are always legendary tales of horniosity. I suspect the only profession that is hornier is the acting profession. If politics is show business for ugly people, TV news is show business for the mildly-attractive-but-not-talented-enough-to-get-into-show-business people.
Here is a partial list spawned by the rumor mill of TV-news horny folk going at it -- some of which took place in Pittsburgh, much of which I believe to be true.
There was the news executive who was having sex with the anchorwoman as well as the girl in promotions, whose husband found out and complained to the general manager, who ended up deep-sixing the horny news director. There was the anchorwoman and the technical guy, both of whom were married, who were caught at the station in a state of semi-undress by the girl from the traffic department.
There was the anchorman and the intern behind one of those phony TV facades you've seen behind the on-air folk. There was the news executive and the producer, discovered when the producer got drunk at an office party and spilled the beans.
I was once friends with a photographer who was having sex with the news director, but trying to keep it quiet. The photographer told me about someone ratting on the affair to the station's top dog. I repeated the story. The news director threatened to break up with the photographer if he had been the source of the story. The news director confronted me, but I refused to reveal my sources. Weeks later I was canned. So much for protecting your sources in a newsroom.
"The movie Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy wouldn't have been made if that wasn't the reputation of television news," says Scott "Jonesy" Jones, who runs an industry insider Web site, originally entitled FuckedTelevision.com but now called FTVlive.com so people can read it at work. One of the reasons Scott had a big jump in subscribers a few months ago is he posted video purported to be of a young woman reporter and an older photographer in Virginia doing the nasty -- and I mean this video is nasty enough to render the Tommy Lee-Pamela Anderson tape lame by comparison -- in a live truck.
People tend to think the more powerful personalities, like the anchorpeople, get all the poon tang, says Jones. But "the photographer's getting more strange than anyone else," he says. "People just love seeing that camera."
Jones says the danger of sex in the newsroom, aside from the obvious ethical considerations when the sex involves the powerful and their underlings, is that everyone always seems to find out about it.
"Everyone who works in a newsroom is nosy to begin with," he says, so they use their skills to ferret out the dirt. This is generally true because TV folk are relentless gossipmongers and major-league backstabbers. "You always want to have dirt on your co-worker," says Jones -- just in case.
I actually felt sorry for Bill O'Reilly because his accuser seemed like a stick-up artist, but her quotations of his alleged awkward pervo sexual banter sounded like a typical news geek on the make.
Hunter Thompson once called the TV business "some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs."
Maybe ... but what a way to go. Arf.