As a male outside the demographic that advertisers love, I felt for Channel 4 anchor Don Postles during the station’s 6 p.m. newscast Wednesday.
Reporter Jenn Schanz was on set after just finishing her five-minute sweeps month story on mothers who are eating their placenta, often in pill form, after childbirth for health or emotional reasons.
“Placenta: To Eat or Not Eat?” wasn’t exactly a dinner time story.
Around my house the meal time question is something more like: Brussel Sprouts: To Eat or Not Eat?”
I hate the stuff.
After Schanz finished her story, it was time on the set for some post-story, nutritional happy talk.
Jacquie Walker, a mother of two who is Postles’ co-anchor, first noted that wasn’t something practiced when she had her children.
She declared the story “very interesting.”
Postles, who looked about as out of place as Rudy Giuliani at a Beyonce concert, had a one-word reaction.
“Different,” declared Postles.
He clearly wanted to avoid eating his words.
I immediately went on Twitter and agreed with him before adding I wished it had aired at 11 p.m. instead of at dinner time.
I could have done without the five or six times that Channel 4 showed a placenta, which looked like a cut of roast beef. That was until it showed it being dried and it looked like bacon strips.
Perhaps because I often closed my eyes during operation scenes carried on “ER” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” I would have preferred Channel 4 just showed us the placenta pill and left everything else to our imaginations.
I’ll give Schanz credit. She did enough interviews with mothers, doctors and a University at Buffalo professor with the proper serious tone to almost make the story palatable. So to speak.
OK, I apologize. At least I didn’t say the story was done tastefully as others might have done.
OK, I went Donald Trump there by getting my point across by claiming someone else – maybe the devil – was speaking for me.
On the other hand, this story wasn’t exactly new.
A quick online search notes that stations have been doing similar stories for a couple of years.
The Buffalo News carried a story about it almost four years ago with the headline: “Ingesting Placenta May Benefit Humans.” However, it is a lot different reading about something like this than actually seeing it on TV.
“A paper by Buffalo researchers suggests ingesting parts of the afterbirth may offer benefits to human mothers and, perhaps, to non-mothers and males, as well,” wrote medical reporter Henry Davis.
“Although most animals eat the placenta, Mark Kristal, the lead author, and his colleagues do not endorse that humans do it. Their main point is that the issue warrants study as a potential benefit for the development of new therapies.”
Kristal was interviewed in Schanz’s story, saying it was difficult to do a study about it because it is hard to find a control group of women “who are willing to eat this stuff” who don’t think it works.
If you go online, you can also read that Kim Kardashian pranked her family on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” more than two years ago. She told them they were eating a stranger’s placenta before revealing it actually was brisket. According to another website, Kim blogged two months ago that she was eating her placenta after giving birth to her second child.
Other celebrities have also done so, as Channel 4’s story illustrated with pictures of the women.
I never got the sense from the Channel 4 story of what percentage of so-called ordinary women are doing this. Schanz said she was “surprised to know how many moms in Western New York are jumping on board.” But neither she nor the experts she talked to actually had a number.
But then again, I’m not sure I want to know how many are doing it.
I do know why Channel 4 ran the story. It is a sweeps month. They wanted some attention.
I just gave it to them.
It got enough attention from viewers for the station to have Schanz do a follow-up at 6 p.m. Thursday.
This time, Walker warned viewers what was coming “is more about a topic you may not want to hear about when you are eating dinner.”
“Many of you weren’t happy about the story,” said Schanz. “Some of you were intrigued. Others asked if there is no proof if this works, why is it even worth talking about it”
I was hoping she would say it is worth talking about because it is sweeps month. But she gave high-minded reasons about the benefits of studying something that women are interested in and believe may be beneficial.
To be honest, the story probably deserves some attention from “Saturday Night Live,” too.
It could do a bit in which it showed the placenta a dozen times, the same thing it used to do when it made fun of the TV news obsession with repeatedly showing the footage of disasters and accidents over and over again.
The placenta story was like an accident in that it was hard to look away even if you wanted to do that.
“SNL” also might be able to try and answer a question raised by a Channel 4 photographer on Facebook after the placenta story ran.
“We are debating whether or not you can eat it on Fridays during Lent,” he wrote.
I smell another sequel.