Dear Networks: Please Stop Sending Me Bribes

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The behind-the-scenes waste that goes into press coverage

So. This is about the most First World of First World Problems, but I’m bringing it up because it affects the rest of the world, too.

TV networks, please stop sending me bribes.

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As a TV critic I get lots of overnight mail from networks. In addition to DVDs — I like those, I need them, and thanks! — I also get lots of things I can only describe as bribes. These include books, candy, and trinkets. I recycle what I can and throw the rest away.

Today I got a DVD and a book in the mail from HBO, a network I like. The DVD was helpful. It helps me do my job. But the book, by fictional “Veep” vice president Selina Meyer, has three pages of text, followed by 245 blank pages.

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The joke, an HBO representative explained to me, is that Meyer doesn’t have enough ideas to fill a book. Good one. But not worth taking 245 non-recycled pages to tell. Or shipping to me in a box. (The rep suggested I use the book as a journal.)

How many other people did HBO send this to? The rep said it went out to critics, bloggers and Washington tastemakers, all of whom “loved it.”

So multiply all that waste by all those people. I used to be an environmental reporter, and the irony of my now covering an industry that encourages consumption through advertising isn’t lost on me. But you really don’t need to think about all that to understand why waste is wasteful.

I know: Small beans. Nothing compared to all the other waste out there. But we all do our part, and since Hollywood lectures us constantly about being green, it should be beyond reproach.

HBO isn’t alone. Recently I got a bottle of barbecue sauce from Jimmy Kimmel, meticulously sent in another big box, with lots of packing material. I still haven’t opened the bottle. I can recycle the box, but I can’t unburn the fuel it took to deliver it. Multiply the waste by however many other reporter-types received it.

Network friends, you already have a way of making me cover your shows: your shows.

I love “Veep.” Kimmel is great too. I don’t need bribes to write about you. None of us do. Spend that postage money on programming.