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As far as circles of hell go, we've already established you can't really do much worse than the Television Critics Association semi-annual press tours — the gaseous summer version of which is feeding the palms in Beverly Hills as we speak. But it's not just the bloggers and bitter ideologues who have ruined the bed-in between networks, stars and the writers who love them (until the expense account runs out, anyway); we're learning more today about why the TCA tour may have bottomed out earlier than predicted, featuring an opening cavalcade of virtually uncoverable has-beens and hypocrites who don't bode well for the future of, well, anything. From the WaPo:

The day on which the Thank God We're Working Summer TV Press Tour got its start was one of singular euphoria. ...

So thrilled were the critics with the whole still-employed/Beverly Hills/expense-account thing, they generously overlooked TV One following its first session, on racism in America, with one that kicked off with homophobic remarks made by a guy who appears to be one of the new co-hosts of TV One show Black Men Revealed.

And, hours later, they also graciously let it slide when Florence Henderson — born 1934 — slipped in a reference to herself as being part of the baby boom generation...


And this is one of the good items — a self-effacing glimpse into the abyss of modern culture, where ex-SAG president Ed Asner predictably wheezes on behalf of an actors strike, the Hallmark Channel cannibalizes the very bones of cable television and Ted Koppel fakes what little funk remains beneath his ever-thickening species of wig. Sign us up, seriously. How did we ever overlook the credentialing process?

We think we know, actually: Having proven its irrelevance after nobody — not readers, not viewers, nobody except perhaps the overextended networks and publishers who pay for it all, and certainly not us — even noticed when the WGA strike necessitated its cancellation last January, the TCA press tour is but a holdover of entitlement and uselessness, all but invisible, little but dead. Which is to say: Make it stop. Dogs, ponies, shows — drown them all, pocket the money, make better TV and hire back the swaths of critical dead who gave half a fuck before polishing network turds became the law of the land.

Or just call it even. We don't even care at this point as long as the publicity reach-around in TV, film, politics and pretty much any measurable media ecology makes so few people happy or even remotely intrigued. Just make it stop. Katherine Heigl doesn't need your defenses, Chandra Wilson. Olivia Munn and Kevin Pereira's "romantic tension"? Kill yourselves. Mark Cuban on day-and-date film releases for the trillionth time? He can afford to be wrong for 20 lifetimes, but beat writers fall for it year after year after year.

So, TCA press tour attendees? Hello? We love you as people, support you as peers and just want to see you happy. Really. And we know your editors will take it rough, but they'll get over it, and anyway, it's time: Put this dog down.