That it's also not exactly a master's class in acting should come as no surprise. This is February sweeps stunt casting, pure and simple.
But the stunt's ultimately kind of a nasty one, given the age of Bieber's core fan base, and while I'm sure the 16-year-old singer had a blast doing it, I think anyone who's young enough to think that Bieber's hair is actually cool is probably too young to be watching "CSI."
Particularly tonight, when Bill Irwin also returns as serial killer Nate Haskell, whose trial defense prompts an open-court admission from Ray Langston (Laurence Fishburne) that's only going to confuse anyone who hasn't yet taken even high school biology.
Footnote or fraud?
What matters more to history: the pictures that tell the story or the story of the man holding the camera?
That's the question at the heart of "Pictures Don't Lie" (8 p.m. Sunday, CNN), a provocative Black History Month documentary from Soledad O'Brien that explores the case of Ernest Withers, the late Memphis photographer whose work helped chronicle the civil-rights movement but who after his 2007 death was revealed to have been an FBI informant.
It was Withers who took the famous picture of the mutilated, bloated body of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy from Chicago who was murdered in Mississippi after he allegedly whistled at a white woman. And it was Withers who vowed to attend every day of the trial that followed.
A longtime chronicler of the civil-rights era who was granted extraordinary access to the movement's leaders, Withers "was absolutely the perfect information source for the Memphis FBI office," says Martin Luther King Jr. biographer David Garrow.
As one of some 7,000 members of the agency's "Ghetto Informant Program," he's said to have given the FBI things like newsletters and photos of "suspected militants," along with license-plate numbers and home addresses.
"Most of what Mr. Withers is telling the FBI is what he's heard with his own two ears. It's better than having a hidden microphone, because here you've got someone who's very knowledgeable and very savvy and could edit out the chaff," says Garrow.
A former FBI agent who was based in Memphis recalls that in working with informants, "you'd say, 'Is there anything in the neighborhood that you want to bring to my attention? Is it quiet or are there any issues?' "
Earl Caldwell remembers the FBI's approach a little differently. Caldwell, who covered the Black Panthers for the New York Times - and lost a 1972 Supreme Court case over his unwillingness to inform - says, "They would come to you and say, 'We need to know certain things. We want you to cooperate with us.' And as a matter of fact, sometimes they would be asking you to do something and it would be like, 'This is your duty as an American, to help us.' And it was always made out to be so harmless. 'Listen, we don't want you breaking any confidences. Just tell us this . . . We'll meet you.' "
Withers, who took the secret to his grave, isn't around to explain his thinking, but O'Brien has rounded up some of his contemporaries, including comic and activist Dick Gregory and former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, who don't necessarily agree on the photographer's ultimate legacy.
CNN wasn't able to get me the last seven or eight minutes of the report, which was still in editing when screeners were sent out, but from what I saw "Pictures Don't Lie" focuses less on black and white than on the shades of gray in a portrait - and a history - that's taken decades to develop. *
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