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Our Own Moment of Truth
February 29

I was all ready to bury 1 vs. 100, and rap about Amnesia, but this week's "special episode" of The Moment of Truth bears special mention.

On Monday night, FOX's viewers were treated the baring of Lauren Cleri's soul, as she attempted to claw her way to $500,000. Along the way, we find out the innocuous (she) to the devastating. She had the chance to bail out with $100,000, but plowed ahead, undone and bankrupted when she answered "yes" to "Do you think you're a good person?"; her answer was deemed a lie.

The show was flanked by special inserts of Mark L. Walberg going on about how much he disliked the episode, he begged the network not to air it, and so on. Frankly, I think it's a sort of "double dare" to the viewers, in order to make the proceedings seem more edgy or intense, as if the audience didn't know what they were in for already. (This was a special Monday episode roughly a month into the run, as opposed to the premiere.) The way FOX promoted the show, anyone who watched American Idol would know the show existed. So that means hundreds of millions of people know about the format.

There is no doubt in my mind that Mark was extremely uncomfortable during the proceedings. But I'm not calling for Mark to step down, or for FOX to pull the show. After all, I believe in the free market and the power of the people. Mark knew what he was in for when he signed on the dotted line (potential hosts had to submit to and pass a similar test: Mark was the only one to pass). And he signed. For him to suddenly say that he would back down from his obligation would be more telling of his character than if he said "Yeah, it's a sleazy hour of TV. But I have a family to support, and the Shop 'til you Drop residuals just won't cut it."

Then there's the contestants. Lauren answered fifteen questions "correctly," probably ruined her marriage, and won no money. She could have walked away with $10,000. She could have quit with $25,000, or stopped with $100,000. She could have refused to play the game during the pre-show interrogation, or stopped during the game (though a contestant who refuses to answer a question during the game forfeits all money won to that point.) She knew what she was in for, and plowed ahead. She answered every question with aplomb. This is no Candid Camera sneaking-around. Everything is up front. People want to represent the operation as sinister, and it's not.

Finally, we have the network. Everyone wants to queue up to crucify the network for putting on shows like this. Guess what, friends? FOX has made their name on edgy shows that went against the grain. It worked. They got into the national picture because of it. They're not going to stop while the gravy train rolls along. We're in a free market, and FOX can do whatever they want in order to draw eyeballs, in order to sell advertising space.

Don't get me wrong: I think the format is despicable, no doubt about it. But I'm not going to tell FOX how to run their business. If you find it that bad, you have a voice. You can turn your remote over to Something Else. You can complain to your affiliate. When viewership falls off, they'll go to the next big thing, and this show will be a footnote in television history.

Travis Eberle would like to see Mark L. Walberg finally get a decent gig. Agree with him at .