DHS Reality Show

On ABC:

Every day the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security patrol more than 100,000 miles of America's borders. This territory includes airports, seaports, land borders, international mail centers, the open seas, mountains, deserts and even cyberspace. Now viewers will get an unprecedented look at the work of these men and women while they use the newest technology to safeguard our country and enforce our laws, in "Homeland Security USA," which debuts with the episode "This is Your Car on Drugs," TUESDAY, JANUARY 6 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET) on ABC.

Sure it's propaganda, but the agency can use the image boost.

Posted on December 23, 2008 at 1:10 PM • 33 Comments

Comments

HJohnDecember 23, 2008 1:44 PM

@: "Sure it's propaganda, but the agency can use the image boost."

We'll see whether or not its propaganda--ABC isn't exactly reputed for giving the president or his administration a fair shake. But, and this may surprise some other bloggers, I think DHS is an enormous waste. I'll probably watch the program to be fair before judging it, but I don't see DHS winning me over.

KashmarekDecember 23, 2008 1:50 PM

Should be a topic for FrontLIne, 48 Hours, or other investigative shows. Fair shake??? Is that what the president gave us?

HJohnDecember 23, 2008 1:57 PM

@Kashmarek: "Is that what the president gave us? "

Kash, I made a comment about the network airing it and who it would be propaganda for. That is well within context of the topic. I'm not going to debate the president here, I was simply asserting that I doubt ABC would produce propaganda for him.

Merry Christmas. :)

LindseyDecember 23, 2008 2:02 PM

I wonder if they got the idea for this from "American Dreamz" www.imdb.com/title/tt0465142/

sehlatDecember 23, 2008 2:11 PM

@: "Sure it's propaganda, but the agency can use the image boost."

Considering the fact that the public face of DHS consists of clueless idiots in airports terrorizing five-year-old boys and women with nipple rings as threats to national security, they'd get a much better and longer-lasting image boost if they did something massive about said clueless idiots.

RickDecember 23, 2008 2:22 PM

With the economic downturn, networks are looking to ditch expensive scripted shows and replace them with much cheaper material wherever possible. "Reality" shows and talk shows fit the bill.

Mark RDecember 23, 2008 2:39 PM

I've often wondered whether CSI and its many imitators might have a deterrent effect by spreading the idea that the police are super-geniuses, and that microscopic evidence will hang you even if you commit the "perfect crime." Maybe that's the idea here... the terrorists will be discouraged by witnessing the well-oiled machine of homeland securification.

Or maybe like COPS, it will mainly consist of officers driving around and trying to reason with drunks.

jmattDecember 23, 2008 2:46 PM

Anyone recall US Congressman Dana Rohrbacher's screenplay being purchased and adapted by Joseph Medawar into an ersatz TV pilot "DHS --- Department of Homeland Security"?

Constructed of little more than a five minute trailer spliced together with footage swiped from other telecasts and productions, it was shilled alongside publicity shots of Medwwar and politicians, including the Congressman and the President, as a modern version of the 70's TV series "The FBI" with an added bonus featuring deeply Christian faith-based investigators.

People eat this stuff up. Medawar bilked five and a half million dollars out of more than seventy investors, before receiving a year in prison for tax evasion.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/23453981/

HJohnDecember 23, 2008 4:21 PM

@Davi Ottenheimer: "Drugs? Does "an unprecedented look" at US security have to start with drugs?"

When I was in college, we had to attend 60 on campus events (awards ceremonies, trivia competitions, debates, etc.) in 4 years to graduate. We were able to earn up to 3 credits per semester by attending Wednesday chapel services on campus. Very few people attended. However, one week, the chaplain entitled the service "Beavis and Butthead get saved." It was the largest attendance he had ever had to a service. Perhaps ABC has a similar strategy. Says a bit about our culture what buzz words get people to tune in!

Have a great Christmas.

RoyDecember 23, 2008 5:00 PM

From 1965 to 1974, ABC aired 'The FBI', starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. The show massively improved the public image of the FBI, which had hung up on J Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson being perceived as mean-spirited old fogies. Of course the stories were fictional, and the actors portrayed the FBI as always following all the rules, never straying once from the straight and narrow.

Meanwhile, the real FBI business was espionage and blackmail, but the Bureau did benefit from the wacky imaginings of Hollywood writers.

BTW, read the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution: it makes TSA operations a criminal enterprise. (Note: 'probable' means 'more likely than not', not 'unlikely'.)

Trichinosis USADecember 23, 2008 5:05 PM

An "image boost"? How about totally disbanding this utter boondoggle, fraud, waste, and farce?

We don't NEED another agency and we never DID! What we need is to completely restructure the function and purpose of the pre-existing three from the ground up - including the role they play in POLICING EACH OTHER.

"Homeland Security" - a concept straight out of Nazi Germany. We don't NEED this, Bruce! Come on!

WilsonDecember 23, 2008 5:47 PM

I guess this is going to be the American version of New Zealand's "Border Patrol" and Australia's "Border Security"...

SamDecember 23, 2008 5:56 PM

This looks as boring in the videos as I imagine it must be IRL. The second clip shows an airport customs officer stopping a bellydancer from entering the country without a work visa. Crisis averted!

AndrewDecember 23, 2008 8:27 PM

Now that DHS has "jumped the shark" in real life, they can do it again on video!

Anyone got the producer's address? Perhaps a selection of penetration exercise videos would help ... You see, security gets all wonky when one claims that one penetrated security. So the red team interested in repeat business must bring their own videographers to prove the various defects, security exposures, vulnerabilities, ad nauseum. In fact, some of them could double for America's Funniest CCTV Videos.

AndrewDecember 23, 2008 8:27 PM

Now that DHS has "jumped the shark" in real life, they can do it again on video!

Anyone got the producer's address? Perhaps a selection of penetration exercise videos would help ... You see, security gets all wonky when one claims that one penetrated security. So the red team interested in repeat business must bring their own videographers to prove the various defects, security exposures, vulnerabilities, ad nauseum. In fact, some of them could double for America's Funniest CCTV Videos.

Tony H.December 23, 2008 10:10 PM

@Wilson
I guess this is going to be the American version of New Zealand's "Border Patrol" and Australia's "Border Security"...

Or more likely, of CBC's "The Border", which deals with the very same Canada-US border.
http://www.cbc.ca/theborder

Philip RuddockDecember 24, 2008 4:25 AM

@Tony H. "The Border" looks to be a drama series, unlike "Border Patrol" and "Border Security" which are both reality shows filming real situations (certainly propaganda though). "Border Security" started in Australia after a number of high profile stuff ups in the Immigration Department here. I think it came after New Zealands "Border Patrol" though.

WiseWomanDecember 24, 2008 4:44 AM

How does one measure the "miles of border" in an airport? The width of the gates used to fly to foreign countries? The width of the TSA sham security aisles? What topological figure is this, a Swiss Cheese? And if a gate that was previously used just for domestic flights have a foreign jet land, does the border of the US suddenly expand?

Nemo de MonetDecember 24, 2008 11:15 AM

"Image boost", Bruce? I wouldn't hold my breath.

Look at the FBI - the once-mighty G-Men are now hated (and feared, though not for the right reasons) worldwide; decades of movies and television shows about the Bureau and its agents have done nothing but reinforce certain negative stereotypes and, I've heard, hinder recruiting and hiring efforts.

DHS may be trying to take a page from other agencies playbooks (hey, it worked for NCIS (NCIS, duh), and the USMS (In Plain Sight), and arguably others), but none of those shows tried particularly hard to *improve the image* of the agency in question, just raise their public profile.

DHS' fundamental problem isn't that nobody knows who their component agencies are, or what they do, but that they have unsavory reputations for being overly politicized, inept, wasteful, invasive of the country's collective privacy, unnecessarily violent, inconsistent, arbitrary... you get the idea.

They can huff and they can puff, but nothing a television show does is going to change public perception of the FBI, ICE, CBP, or any of DHS' other components. The *best* DHS can realistically hope for is that they fail to reinforce too many stereotypes that are perceived as negative by their many, many critics.

WiserManDecember 24, 2008 2:47 PM

>
How does one measure the "miles of border" in an airport?

The airport is the "functional equivalent” of the border, and as such, probably not counted in the 100,000 mile figure.

Andrew ADecember 24, 2008 3:08 PM

@Wiserman

The perimeter of the airport can be determined quite simply by viewing the overhead on Google Maps. An even rougher quick estimate can be made by multiplying the longest runway length by three. (Most airports are narrower than their length.)

RyanbeedDecember 25, 2008 1:42 PM

I can't imagine a worse thing for basic rights and freedoms in America. OK. Fine, I can imagine a worse thing, but this is still a Very Bad Thing.

COPS gave every cop a role model for harassment and shakedowns. It put a horrible public face on "wrongdoers" (frequently not hurting anyone) and made the cops out to be some sort of cowboy superhero. This absolutely HAS to be at least that bad of an idea. This is going to be another the government ca do no wrong show that will make people happier to be held down.

Brian BoykoDecember 25, 2008 10:56 PM

Dear God.

ABC: "We cancelled the one smart reality show we had, 'The Mole,' to bring you this."

dubiousDecember 26, 2008 1:38 PM

As propaganda, this has another problem: most people will never interact with an FBI agent, an NCIS agent, nor any of the other agencies depicted in the successful "propaganda" fictional TV shows.

TSA, however, is something anyone who flies will experience, even when nothing is alleged to be wrong. So it's not even like the show COPS depicting police officers, who you might encounter in a traffic stop when you've done something stupid. No, you will encounter TSA just in the normal act of traveling by air.

averrosDecember 26, 2008 3:32 PM

@: "Sure it's propaganda, but the agency can use the image boost."

Bruce, are you entirely sane? Are you advocating government propaganda aimed at the general population?

What next will you be advocating? Detentions of dissidents who undermine the effectiveness of government propaganda?

averrosDecember 26, 2008 6:26 PM

Moderator - I'm afraid my experience of living in the USSR has burned off my irony detector in all things related to civil liberties. Though I do find it ironic that nowadays Americans are busy cheerfully turning themselves into neo-Soviets.

Bill's Past DueDecember 30, 2008 2:14 AM

Bill Hicks, in '97 (sub DHS or any of the 14 or so federal 'intelligence' agencies the public is allowed to know exist, and/or their corresponding MM propaganda brands for "COPS" or "Love Connection," & substitute 'us' for...well - "us"):

'...Oh, there's a threat to America! Yeah, yeah, yeah... Back to that fuckin' COPS show. 'Cuz I'll tell you who the threat to freedom... no, no, not to freedom. I'll tell you who the threat to the status quo is in this country: it's us. That's why they show you shows like fuckin' COPS. So you know that state power will win and we'll bust your house down and we'll fuckin' bust you anytime we want. That's the message...Shut up! Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control. Here's Love Connection. Watch this and get fat and stupid.'

(from http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/...

A bit harsh, wasn't he?
Be seeing you...

martinezJanuary 11, 2009 12:17 PM

The show was phoney. Most of the people on camera were supervisors and chiefs who, in reality, never do any of the work they were shown doing. The grooming standards were broken such as long hair and hoop earrings on women. Get it real or don't do it. CBPAS in Houston

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