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Andrea Thompson

Andrea Thompson resigned from CNN a couple of weeks ago. From my archives:

4/29/01

I returned home from my Friday morning prayers and surfed over to MediaNews.com to get the latest. And the site referred me to this article on the humiliation of CNN reporter and actress Andrea Thompson:

After nude pictures emerge on the Net, the Cable News Network may be backpedaling on the controversial hire of Andrea Thompson.

CNN had every expectation that Andrea Thompson, the cable network's new national correspondent, would be hot ratings material. After all, Thompson was hot stuff in her four years on ABC's cop drama NYPD Blue as the tough-talking Detective Jill Kirkendall. But thanks to some revelatory images on the Internet, it now it appears that she might be too hot for CNN to handle.

The decision to hire Thompson, a high-school dropout with less than a year of experience in the news business, was already controversial and quickly drew fire from within CNN and the broader journalism community. Her appointment to a prized position – one that many CNN correspondents spend years and decades striving for – angered many of Thompson's soon-to-be colleagues. Media critics decried what they saw as a naked attempt to boost ratings at the expense of CNN's vaunted journalistic reputation.

Now, The Industry Standard has learned that CNN might be backing away from its controversial decision to hire Thompson. On Wednesday, CNN executives learned of topless pictures of Thompson circulating on the Internet, pictures culled from her 15-year Hollywood career as an actress and model, and a career dominated by bit roles in Baywatch, JAG, Silk Stalkings and Arli$$. Most damning to CNN, it seems, were her nude scenes in a 1986 Italian erotic film called Manhattan Gigolo.

Andrea Thompson played the hooker in the movie Wall Street. She stops by the room of Charlie Sheen, takes him into a limousine and give him cocaine and a blowjob.

Thompson issued a statement saying she ''did pose for Black And White magazine, a prestigious artistic publication, several years ago. I did this as a piece of art and make no apologies for the decision I've made as an artist in my 20-year career.''

Chris Berg, who heads the news department at KOB-TV, suggested that Thompson, who has worked at rival KRQE since leaving Blue, posed no competition. "I think working in Albuquerque is out of her league, " he told the Albuquerque Journal. "Yes, I think she has improved as a news reporter, but she's still not good enough to work at our station."

Fred writes Luke: Sir: I sympathize with your standing up for journalistic integrity. If a bedrock, no a Rock of Gibralter of journalistic integrity like lukeford.com does not stand up for the integrity of journalism, who will? Surely, we cannot expect the weaker sisters of journalism, like the N.Y. Times, or the Times of London to carry the banner of integrity if lukeford.com fails in this important task.

Frankly, a great deal of "casting" for TV news is based on physical attractiveness, poise, and other things that in general have nothing to do with journalism. I have a vague recollection of seeing a documentary a few years back on a television journalism program at either Brigham Young or University of Utah, where they took time to teach students about how to look good on camera, i.e. issues regarding wardrobe, makeup, etc. I thought that was tacky as hell. But if you're going to go that far, why the hell not just hire actors as TV reporters. After all, an actor should know how to act authoritative, and exude that "I'm smart, serious and telling you the truth" attitude. What the hell difference does it make if the actor is just reading a script, and has no fucking clue who the president is, where the Colombian drug lords are from (some college in N.Y., I think), or who's buried in Grant's tomb?

It's like division of labor. If you're going to make a movie, you have some guys who are really good at carpentry to build the sets, other guys who are really good writers to write the script, and other guys who look good and can remember their lines to act.

Look, do you think Tom Cruise could build a competent set, or write a competent screen play? Probably not, and it doesn't matter. That's not why he gets hired.

When you saw the movie Patton, did you really think that George C. Scott had the slightest clue as to how to command an army? Probably not.

So why should we demand that the guys who read our news be able to do anything else? Does it make the news any more believable or accurate? I don't think so.

WARREN BERGER writes Jim Romenesko at MediaNews.com: I'm a huge fan of your site and think you're doing a fantastic job. But I have to question why, on the story about Andrea Thompson, you had a link taking the reader to a topless picture of her. To run a story about the pictures is fine, because it is news. But should your site be, in effect, passing around dirty pics of a fellow journalist? Whatever people may think of Ms. Thompson's credentials, she is one of us now, and she deserves better than this.

From BRUCE BARTLETT, Syndicated columnnist, Creators Syndicate: I am very amused by all the criticism that former actress Andrea Thompson is getting for her foray into journalism. I think the reason why so many television news people are reacting so negatively to her is because the line between what they do and what she did on shows like NYPD Blue is so thin. Most television "journalists" in my opinion are nothing but actors to begin with. Both essentially do the same thing: read lines written for them by someone else and try to look good and appear believable while doing so. All the heavy lifting in television news is done by producers, whom one never sees on camera. They deserve to be called journalists. But most of the people we see on the screen are just pretty faces. That being the case, I for one would much rather see Andrea Thompson when I turn on CNN than any of the other news readers it employs.