Springer Mourns for the Middle Class

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. -- LINKS 2004 EXECUTIVE SUMMIT -- Love him or loathe him, you have to admit Jerry Springer is interesting.

And, to no one's surprise, Springer's opening keynote address here at Light Reading's Links 2004 Executive Summit this week was interesting, offering a glimpse of his political passion and some behind-the-scenes insight on his wildly successful TV program.

Indeed, Springer's talk wasn't the typical telecom keynote. It wasn't a rant on networking protocols or telecom regulation. And, to the surprise of some, it didn't dwell on transsexuals either.

His message, instead, was that the middle class is disappearing and the American dream is all but dead. Springer, who's considering a 2006 run for governor of Ohio, gave a running count of the most serious problems with America's political system along with some broad ideas on how to make sure all Americans have health care, a chance at a college education, and some hope of gainful employment that will both sustain a family and improve one's lot in life.

In short, Springer's message was this: In order to keep the economy healthy, more Americans need to find affordable health insurance and education, especially in the fields of math and science.

The topic is dear to Springer, whose family immigrated to America from England five years after his parents fled the Holocaust. Having been a presidential campaign worker, a mayor, a reporter, and a syndicated TV host, Springer's contention is that the American dream "is possible, but that doesn’t mean it will come true." His fear: "That ours will be the first generation that won't be able to assure our children that they'll have it better than we did."

There was a technology tie-in, but even that was kind of a stretch: "You can be developing the greatest technology in the world and if this education system isn't fixed and there are no jobs, you're not going to have any clients -- any customers," Springer says.

Springer's speech followed a Letterman-meets-Mad TV presentation hosted by Light Reading's president and CEO, Steve Saunders. The show included a parody corporate video, a parody quiz show, and a parody Top Ten List, all held on the very real set that David Letterman used during his past San Francisco-based broadcasts.

"May you never be on my show," Springer said, as he greeted the audience. "And for some of you, it may be too late."

Speaking of his show, here's what Springer shared about his program that attendees had always wanted to know, and finally got a chance to ask:
  • In order to make the shows more controversial, the networks often add fake bleeps for profanity during sweeps, the periods in February, May, July, and November during which TV ratings firms track viewership.
  • Guests of The Jerry Springer Show must volunteer to be on the show -- and the only way to get the phone number is to watch the show. Also, guests have control over what gets aired and what is taken out of a broadcast.
  • Guests sign off on a list of up to 20 surprises, all of which are possible, so that they can't say they weren't warned. What kind of surprises? During a July 15 broadcast, the show guest was "Jeremiah" who was to reveal to his wife "Lisa" that he wants a life with his new love: her sister. Good times!

    Highbrow it isn't, but Springer argues it's not harmful, either. Though he said he wasn't on stage to defend his "stupid" show (as he calls it), he did just that. When it was suggested that his show perpetuates the stereotypes that poor people aren't worth helping, Springer retorted: "That's like saying the evening news perpetuates the thought that the people in charge are all crazy."

    "No one is going to watch our show and say, 'Damn, I want to be a transvestite.' "

    Without a doubt, the same can be said for Light Reading. Ah, so there's the telecom tie-in!

    — Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

  • lastmile 12/5/2012 | 1:15:49 AM
    re: Springer Mourns for the Middle Class BobbyMax has gone and Jerry is here. Long live LR.
    End of Message.
    firstmile 12/5/2012 | 1:15:45 AM
    re: Springer Mourns for the Middle Class Bring back Bobby Max....
    All your bases belong to us...
    ok, so maybe Jerry IS better...
    OptixCal 12/5/2012 | 1:15:42 AM
    re: Springer Mourns for the Middle Class LR has sunk to a new low...Using Springer, at ANY level, is tantamount to AT&T touting the use of two cans connected with string to make phone calls! Jerry's "middle class" is nothing more than the trailer trash that they are.

    What next LR? Are you going to sponsor a Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson political ticket?

    Big Time 12/5/2012 | 1:15:40 AM
    re: Springer Mourns for the Middle Class We paid to have a VP listen to Jerry Springer... and we wonder why our stock price is in the crapper.
    lastmile 12/5/2012 | 1:15:40 AM
    re: Springer Mourns for the Middle Class Soon we will see a new LR magazine at check out counters at Kroger/Publix/Walmart and even Kmart.
    Jerry Springer and LR. What a stupid combination.
    LR was Light Reading. LR is now Low Reading.
    Just this sound like a typical yahoo message board?
    Ask LR!
    anshu 12/5/2012 | 1:15:33 AM
    re: Springer Mourns for the Middle Class It's an election year - remember?

    Jerry Springer added some sanity and helped us all realize what's really at stake.

    Good call LR.
    bored_lurker 12/5/2012 | 1:15:29 AM
    re: Springer Mourns for the Middle Class Jerry Springer added some sanity and helped us all realize what's really at stake.

    The world must be in much worse shape than I thought when Jerry Springer adds sanity! Get real!

    LR, next time get a politician with more credibilty like Marrion Barry. Al Gore would be a good choice too since he invented the internet.
    whyiswhy 12/5/2012 | 1:15:19 AM
    re: Springer Mourns for the Middle Class Optix:

    LR invited several former telecom executives to speak, however their wardens refused them day passes.

    Now I ask you, who is classier: Jerry or Bernie? Jerry or Frank? etc, etc. My money is on Jerry.

    And yes, his show is trash. So what? It's the reason we built the network. You knew 99.9% of the traffic was going to be trash like his, or spam.

    As long as the checks clear the bank....party on, dude!

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