Former TV host: Dial down the ‘dumbed-down’ media, celebrity news


Women, listen up!

Your critical thinking skills are desperately needed right now for your own good as well as for the sake of your community, your country and your planet. Lisa Bloom says exactly that in “Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World” (Vanguard Books, $25.99).

And she means it.

The former host of a national live daily talk show on Court TV, Bloom, a lawyer, serves as a legal analyst on CBS News, CNN and HLN and she makes frequent appearances on “The Early Show,” “The Insider,” “Dr. Phil,” “The Situation Room,” “The Joy Behar Show” and others.

Bloom, 50, says the topic of this book chose her. After traveling to Cambodia late in 2007 to observe a war crimes tribunal, Bloom could not get the story on the air. “No one would do it. Everybody wanted only celebrity stories,” recalls Bloom, who spoke by phone from her home in Los Angeles.

She remembers thinking, “Something is wrong here.” Bloom started researching the topic, and was shocked to learn that 25 percent of young women in the U.S. today would rather win on “America’s Next Top Model” than win the Nobel Prize. Further research revealed that 80 percent of Americans did not read a book last year. Bloom also discovered that marketing studies consistently show that what women want is celebrity news.

“I hope that’s as painful for you to read as it is for me to write,” Bloom writes in her book. She then points out that this is as much about money as it is about anti-intellectualism.

“When you consider all the celebrity news that’s out there, you have to ask who profits,” says Bloom. “Certainly the tabloids and the giant media corporations that own almost all the media profit from celebrity news, because people pay to get their pieces on websites and shows. There is not a lot of money to be made in real news, so basically we are asking the giant media corporations to cover hard news because it’s the right thing to do.”

Bloom noted that a new study shows that in Western Europe, the media covers far more hard news, much of it international. “People there have a sense that it’s their civic responsibility to know about international issues. They sit down for the broadcasts at 8 p.m. and pay attention.” She adds, “Of course, the BBC is run by the state, and I am not advocating that.”

“Think” is divided into two parts. One part examines the problem for women of embracing the image of “loveable airheads” and one part suggests solutions. In the first section, Bloom laments that 10 million women have cosmetic procedures each year, a 162 percent increase since 1997. “Our culture is saturated with impossible beauty ideals, and our endless attention to our image in the mirror…diverts our attention from looking outward at the world,” she writes.

In the second half of the book, Bloom encourages women to turn off the television and read the local paper, the New York Times, books and worthy magazines. She suggests we look up issues on line that interest or move us, and then take action. Then she recommends that women use their newfound knowledge to take charge of their lives and ultimately, of their own happiness.

Don’t tell Bloom you have no time to take her up on those suggestions. She is ready with a response, which includes the following advice:

Housework is not your job.

Entertaining your children is not your job.

Cooking can be kept simple.

The mother of two young adult children, Bloom says, “You must talk to your kids, and to your partner, about things that matter. Our children look to us for how they should live their lives. We don’t want them to think that being a mom means being a martyr and never doing anything you like. We must show them that the life of the mind is important to adult women.”

Do her readers agree?

“The response to the book has been overwhelming, just amazing,” Bloom says. “Women-and men-from all over have written to tell me how the book has changed their lives. At some level, we all want substance and we crave meaning-and it’s amazing what we can do when we refocus.”

Lisa Bloom

BOOK: “Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World”

SESSION: 10:30 a.m., Nov. 8