Network executives have officially hit a new low -- and as we're talking about network executives here, you know it's got to be pretty awful. Now, the NBC reality series "The Baby Borrowers" has always screamed "exploitation" to me, but the show itself pales in comparison with the jaw-droppingly, skin-crawlingly vile press release that landed in my in box Tuesday. The message, which came from an NBC publicist, touted the series' reunion special (hosted by Hoda Kotb and featuring Dr. Drew Pinsky -- that paragon of medical ethics!) and then went on to call my attention to the following release, issued by the American Psychiatric Association:
"APA Calls Baby Borrowers Harmful to Young Children, Adolescents' Mental Health
"Arlington, VA – Calling the NBC Show, The Baby Borrowers, exploitive and harmful to young children and families mental health, the American Psychiatric Association is urging NBC to provide a better review process of its programming in the future and to take into consideration the serious mental health implications shows such as the Baby Borrowers can have on individuals. The APA is calling on NBC to end this type of misuse of children used in order to secure ratings.
"NBC's show is designed to be a social experiment placing teenage couples in many different family situations, which includes “borrowing” infants and toddlers for a few days to get a taste of parenthood.
"The APA issued this statement:
"'The American Psychiatric Association deplores the use of babies and toddlers as props or experimental subjects for a television program. It is inappropriate and sometimes harmful to remove very young children from their families and familiar environments, and the level of harm may not be apparent on simple observation. Since the program is meant to reveal whether or not the 'borrowers' are competent to care for these children, at least some of the children will have been exposed to incompetent and confused caregivers, and to whatever problematic situations arose as the caregivers struggled with each other. We urge NBC never to repeat this misuse of children; not to allow reruns to air; and to use every means to discourage the use of episodes in parenting classes or other venues where they might well be shown.'"
In other words: "Watch our show! Four out of five psychiatrists agree -- it's harmful to children!"