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Monday, February 17, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Kay McFadden / Times staff columnist

Our columnist issues a warning: Beware of the axis of drivel

Good morning. It has come to our attention through lack of intelligence supplied by the network community that the chances of a Stoopid TV attack have greatly increased.

As of today, audiences are advised to change the color of their television screens to black.

Various surveillance devices in our living room have delivered data that support signs of a growing threat. Careful monitoring reveals the ABC, the CBS, the NBC and the Fox are coordinating Operation Stoopid TV resources to an unprecedented degree.

Two years ago, when this danger first manifested itself in a series of unprovoked assaults on prime-time television, experts concluded that Stoopid TV was an isolated phenomenon confined to such borderline acts as "The Mole" and "Big Brother" — acts which, incidentally, have no link to our government's counterespionage efforts.

However, I stand before you today to acknowledge that we underestimated the cunning and the commitment of our foe. Far from being over, Stoopid TV was just beginning.

In a minute, we will go over some of the signs that clearly signal an infiltration of Stoopid TV into virtually every segment of the hours between 8 and 11 p.m. But first, let me assure viewers that we are not alone in this struggle. We have allies.

PBS, though admittedly not the power it was 30 years ago, stands at our side in the fight against Stoopid TV, further cementing that historic Anglo-American friendship.

And we can commandeer the forces of C-SPAN — by invoking emergency powers, if necessary — to get our own message out there. We look forward to seeing the expression on ABC information minister Lloyd Braun's face when we strike back with "Are You Hot? Congress' Sexiest Whips."

True, some of our staunchest supporters have proved to be "Weakest Links" in the battle for quality. The Netherlands and Great Britain continue to be Stoopid TV suppliers. We have it on good authority, however, that idea sanctions can and will work wonders.

Now let us address some of the latest indications that point to greater Stoopid TV activity.

According to the latest video documentation, Stoopid TV is operating out of all the major networks in America. To cite some recent examples:

• A man claiming to be Michael Jackson suddenly has surfaced on the ABC and this Thursday, on the Fox. We do not believe this is the former well-known pop-music star but merely the front for a Stoopid cell that aims to capture millions of at-risk viewers by issuing a series of secret messages during a 90-minute taped "rebuttal."

• On the Fox, a man posing as "Joe Millionaire" tonight will propose to one of two female contestants. He will reveal he is not really "Joe Millionaire" but hopefully an acceptable substitute for "Joe Millionaire," which will result in him being a sort of "Joe Millionaire" after all. By then, audiences will have been brainwashed into forgetting the purpose of linear reasoning.

• A parade of aspirants claiming to be "America's Sexiest People" appeared last week on the ABC before a panel plainly not qualified to render an opinion. More worrying was the use of such terms as "Hot Zones" — plainly code. Luckily for national security, the producer tipped his hand by placing Illinois in the Northeast.

Now, I would like to say that America is, if you will, experiencing its own "Hot Zone" and that the cases I've just cited are the worst of it.

But Stoopid TV appears to be in acceleration mode.

Thus far, several innocent segments of the population have remained relatively unexploited by the propagandists of Stoopid TV. That's about to change.

The NBC already has stated its arsenal includes "The Search for the Most Talented Kid in America," "Second Chance: The Search for the Most Talented Senior in America," and "Who Wants to Marry My Mom," featuring single mothers choosing a vacation partner.

Meanwhile, the ABC this Wednesday will launch "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" The Fox will use March to deploy "Married By America," in which eligible contestants are paired off by 800-number call-in vote.

So as you can see, Stoopid TV has not gone away. If anything, it has solidified into a coalition of mass-media destruction — an axis of drivel. We must and will fight it.

Kay McFadden: kmcfadden@seattletimes.com

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