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November 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

In an event certain to lift ratings of the Discovery Channel, Nik Wallenda, of the famous "Flying Wallenda Family" of circus acrobats, made two walks on high-wires between Chicago skyscrapers without a safety net or harness. He performed the second walk blindfolded. The first walk — on a wire the length of two city blocks — was accomplished on a wire set at a 19-degree angle. Discovery did not broadcast the walk live but elected to delay it by 10 seconds in case Wallenda fell, or as the cable channel put it, to ensure that "nothing that is insensitive or inappropriate" would air. (Wallenda’s great grandfather fell to his death attempting a similar stunt in 1978.) Two years ago, ABC required Wallenda to wear a harness when he walked across Niagara Falls. Bridling at the requirement, he took his act to Discovery last year and walked across the Grand Canyon with no safety device. That event attracted 13 million viewers, Discovery’s highest-rated live program. On Friday, Grant McCracken, an anthropologist who studies television and culture, told the New York Times, "To show something like this live truly borders on the grotesque."