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American Idol, a show whose ratings have flagged over its last few seasons, tried something new last week, as Jorge Rivas reports at the Colorlines.com/Now blog. When producers found out that 25-year-old contestant Jermaine Jones, a black man, had four outstanding warrants, they kicked him off the show. Understandable — except that they filmed it and broadcast it as part of the show, to 17 million viewers.
Reaction has been genuinely split. Some commentary has said that this amounts to an extrajudicial public shaming — they’re warrants for unknown crimes, not guilty verdicts, but even if Jermaine is found not guilty on all charges, he better hope his next job interviewer isn’t an Idol fan. On the other hand, others say, it was a pretty dumbass move by Jermaine to go on national TV with four warrants. (And still others have exhibited a Batman-esque bloodlust for anyone accused of any crime, but let’s leave them be.)