If you haven't heard, 21 people suffered burns Thursday, some serious, at a Tony Robbins "firewalk experience." ABC News just got in touch about my doing a segment on World News Tonight (probably with my ol' pal Dan Harris, who reported my hour-long ABC special on the James Ray tragedy/debacle). Not sure if it's going to come together in time, but check it out.
UPDATE, Monday morning, July 23. I raced into the city to tape a segment on Saturday afternoon; everything was very rush-rush, gotta-get-it-done-yesterday, as is always the case in network. Nonetheless, the segment did not run that night, and though I did "appear" on Good Morning America the following day, my contribution was limited to a single line (hence the quotes around appear). I'm thinking they budgeted for a larger spot for me, but damn Katherine Jackson had to go temporarily missing on Saturday, and naturally that had to be covered wall-to-wall.
But I digress. The single line they left to me focused on the gimmickry behind firewalks and why they're normally a harmless shtick...which wasn't the point at all. First, the firewalk wasn't harmless in this case, and second, people are getting hurt (even killed) by the utter absence of any meaningful orthodoxy or empirical validation in SHAMland's methods. Gurus like Tony Robbins (and, of course, James Ray) are (were) raking in the cash through stunts and sayings that they basically pull out of their asses; meanwhile, their gullible followers will believe just about anything and even alibi when things go awry. Often, the more outlandish a shtick is, the more self-help's victims are likely to believe in it (given their desperation to embrace any metaphysic that wipes away the classic rules and procedures of the world as we know it; they all feel entitled to define their own respective worlds). However, I've been direct-messaging with weekend anchor Dan Harris, who as noted presided over my hour-long expose on James Ray back in 2010, so we'll see what happens.
I'm lobbying for a segment on Robbins and Robbins-mania one of these days. I think it would be instructive (albeit sure to generate some unhappy feedback from the litigious Robbins).
The Penn State situation is tragic all around—and the just-announced NCAA sanctions ensure that a domino effect will be felt for years by many people (e.g. student-athletes) who are totally blameless. Still, it should not be looked at in a vacuum. One does not want to go off the deep end here in an attempt to use this latest pedophilia cover-up as a metaphor for capitalism-run-amok, but let's face it, money rules the roost in college sports (and mostly everywhere else). As we saw also during the financial crisis of 2008, there were almost no legal and/or ethical limits to what major financial firms were willing to do to enrich themselves at the expense of the great mass of everyday investors. Why didn't the heads of firms like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup pause a bit more often and say to themselves, People are going to be devastated by the kooky derivatives and fraudulent investment schemes we're cooking up here. Scores of innocent American will lose their jobs, their homes, their retirement savings?* The answer: There was an extra buck to be made—by elite investment types who already had millions, if not billions, squirreled away. That's why.
* And after all, a lot more people were devastated by the financial shenanigans of 2008 than by what happened in some Penn State shower.)