I thought it was a joke when my co-worker first told me. Ashley Dupre, the call girl embroiled in last year's sex scandal involving then New York governor Eliot Spitzer, is the New York Post's newest advice columnist. No, really.
In her weekly "Ask Ashley" column, Dupre will share her expertise on all things related to love and sex. I'm sure you won't be surprised to see that the column is accompanied by a color photo of Dupre in a low cut blouse, doing her best sexy librarian pose. And I'd be remiss if I didn't also point out the catchy "Spitzer's babe answers your love questions!" line. I know the newspaper industry is in big trouble, but come on...really?
Dupre's introductory column featured this note from the editor: "Sure, she's made some mistakes. But now, the former escort who brought down Gov. Eliot Spitzer is sharing what she's learned in her new sex, love and relationship column -- exclusively in the New York Post. Is your husband cheating? Is your daughter on a dangerous path? Our readers asked -- and Ashley fired back with her no-nonsense advice."
Here's *my* question: what woman in her right mind would ask a former escort for marital advice? But I digress.
Dupre's new column is yet another sad reminder of how desperate some media entities have become. What message are we sending when some of the country's best journalism school graduates can't find work, yet a former call girl is given her own column in a New York daily? "I used to be on the front page of the New York Post," brags Dupre in a video on the newspaper's website. "Now I'm writing for it."
I asked my friend, media analyst Steve Safran, for his take. "The New York Post has never pretended to be a model of journalism," Safran says. "This hiring shows just how low they will go to sell newspapers." Indeed. Safran says he's not surprised by the paper's choice to make New York's most famous escort its newest star, but hopes it isn't a trend copied by other news outlets. "There are plenty of problems facing the news industry,” Safran adds, "but I hope they can come up with better content solutions than this titillating but dubious offering."
Only time will tell. We'll have to wait and see whether Ashley Dupre becomes the next Abigail Van Buren, solving the world's relationship problems one email at a time. I have my doubts, but you never know.
- Contributed by Amy Erickson. Follow her @amyerickson