ABC's Good Morning America Exploits Sex… Again

More than half the women in America are single and most of them have had at least four sexual partners. That's the “news” Good Morning America's Andrea Canning shared with viewers before 8:00 in the morning in a near-breathlessly reported story on the premiere of Sex and the City, The Movie.

GMA used the premiere of the much anticipated film to explore how the show changed the culture.  Diane Sawyer introduced the story with, “It was the world premiere of Sex and the City, The Movie. For some reason in London. It was last night. There they were, in heels as high as ever, fashion as – riveting – as ever. It got us thinking, has it really been ten years since these girls started drinking their Cosmos and talking about sex and life? And how have we all changed together since they first went on the air?”

Canning boiled down the impact of the HBO series' six year run to shoes, booze and sex.

CANNING: Can you believe it's been ten years since the ladies introduced us to hot spots like Tao here in New York City? It was the show that made Manolo Blahnik a household name, the Cosmo a must-have drink and it gave the safe sex generation something to think about.

SAMANTHA (in clip from show):  It's a physical expression that the body was designed to experience. P.S., It's fabulous.

Two fans of the show, one male and one female, voiced their opinions of the cultural impact Sex and the City had.

ALEX MILLON: I think it opened up a lot of taboo subjects.  Women are much more comfortable talking about all these issues out in the open. Frankly, I think it makes things easier.

JESSICA SCHOLL:  It was like seeing a whole different side of things, career women, women who are independent, rather than a mother who maybe got married when she was in her early 20s and had kids and did that lifestyle.

So opening up taboo subjects is a good thing, but married moms with kids is Dullsville.  Thanks GMA, surely all the moms who were watching your show while they were getting their kids ready for school appreciated that, almost as much as they appreciated having this story air so early in the morning.

After informing viewers that there are now more single women than married women in America and about the average single American woman's sex life (four partners) Canning immediately touted New York City as the best place for single men to find single women.  She then mentioned “paradise” being found in other cities where the ratio of single women to men was also high and even included a map graphic to emphasize the point.  Canning then showed a clip from the show featuring the character Samantha in bed with a much younger man.

CANNING: On the show, Samantha's knack for catching handsome young men in a fierce dating world was considered impressive. Today she'd be called a cougar.

MAN: Can I tell you a secret?

SAMANTHA: You're 12?

After this clip Canning reported that all of the SATC women are now over 40 and “more fabulous than ever.”  She used that to give a nod to Hillary Clinton, of all people.

CANNING: Proof that women of all ages aren't what they used to be or who they used to be. When the show started president Bill Clinton was in office. Today Hillary is running for office.

Movie premiere? Culture story? Women's sexuality? Women's changing roles? Politics?  Canning tried to have it all in a story that was disjointed and obviously exploitative.  Further, the producers' decision to air this in the first hour of the program while many families were sitting at the breakfast table shows a lack of sensitivity to their core audience.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.