The ‘O, How the Mighty Have Fallen’ Dept

ABC, the network that helped destroy Edward R Murrow’s legacy by hiring Barbara Walters as a ‘reporter’, effectively turning ABC News into ABC Entertainment News by equating an interview with the President with an interview of a movie star, has taken another step into the Pit of Darkness–it’s turning the ‘News Special’ into a mini-reality show and macro-joke.

During her 15 years at ABC News, Diane Sawyer has interviewed presidents and reported stories about biological warfare, terrorist attacks and life under the Taliban. But starting tonight, she’ll train her investigative eye on a far different topic: America’s funniest nuptials.In an unusual programming move, at 10 tonight ABC will premiere “Weddings Gone Wacky, Wonderful & Wild: Anything for Love,” which it calls a “funny and sometimes poignant” five-episode series cohosted by Sawyer and produced by the news division. Although ABC News has produced limited-run prime-time series before — for example, “ICU,” a sober four-part documentary about life in a hospital, ran in summer 2002 — the division has rarely, if ever, devoted so much airtime to such lightweight material.

In fact, on-air promotions for “Weddings Gone Wacky,” focusing on attractive young couples dishing about their connubial bloopers, might even be mistaken for the network’s next reality show, with its title echoing the popular and risque “Girls Gone Wild” videos.

Babwa Wawa, Gilda Radnor’s unforgettable satiric re-imagery of Walters for Saturday Night Live back in the days when it was funny and sharp, would have been proud. She has won, and ABC News is formally giving up all pretense of running a serious news desk–or a credible network.

Is this, at long last, the end of Broadcast News and the beginning of the Reign of the Great Satan at ABC (an event we’ve been expecting for yeeeaaars)? I’ll let you know when Peter Jennings asks Ariel Sharon, ‘If you could be a wombat, what species of wombat would you be?’

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