Friday, September 08, 2006

Dems and TV programming: then and now

Recall the 2003 CBS mini-series "The Reagans", and how Mr. Babs Streisand was playing Ronnie? Well, the RNC complained that the show was (among other things) too biased and factually incorrect. CBS ended up not airing the series, but instead allowed Showtime to air it.

Here was the DNC's response back then:
"CBS has decided to pull its miniseries about Ronald Reagan after a Republican National Committee-organized campaign complaining that it didn't lionize their favorite president enough. (As opposed to the Dems' complaining that the proposed ABC mini-series doesn't "lionize their favorite president enough"? F&#$ing hypocrites. - Ed.)

"CBS's decision is — to put it mildly — disturbing. Essentially the network has given the ruling party veto power over the content it puts on the air.

"No, there are no First Amendment violations here. The RNC protested the content of a program, which is its right, and CBS voluntarily pulled that program off the air, which is its right.

"But the decision makes it very easy to imagine a future where representatives for the Bush administration have the power to disapprove of any content that touches politics, policy, or history — including news programs."
As Powerline quips to that last paragraph: "Yeah, that's easy to imagine all right. Currently the 'power to disapprove of any content that touches politics, policy, or history -- including news programs' is almost 100% in the hands of Democrats. Frankly, none of us is imaginative enough to picture a world in which the American media are controlled by conservatives."

Anywho, the Dems back then were aghast at such a display of First Amendment rights by the RNC, the American people, and CBS. Well, we here at Crush Liberalism try our darnedest to be fair, so let's give the Democrats their props for learning a lesson from the GOP. Yes indeed, the Dems have finally decided to exercise their own free speech and have (apparently) successfully lobbied ABC to remove any unflattering (even if accurate) references to the Bubba administration's bungling of counterterrorism. Free speech is cool, isn't it?

Well, yeah, it is cool...except that "free speech" isn't at work here. Quite the opposite:
After prominent House Democrats sent a letter Wednesday to Disney President and CEO Robert Iger requesting a re-editing of “The Path to 9/11” even though they admitted that they “have not yet seen this program” (as reported by NewsBusters here), another such request came from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Charles Schumer, and Senator Byron Dorgan on Thursday.

This letter comes to us from Daily Kos, whose proprietor Markos Moulitsas has been in full lather about this issue. As you read this (with emphasis and intermittent comments in italics mine), please consider how the anger expressed by Reid and his colleagues was completely missing in 2004 when Michael Moore released his schlockumentary “Fahrenheit 911.” As a result of Democrat silence then, this letter is oozing with hypocrisy. Enjoy:
September 7, 2006

Mr. Robert A. Iger
President and CEO
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank CA 91521

Dear Mr. Iger,

We write with serious concerns about the planned upcoming broadcast of The Path to 9/11 mini-series on September 10 and 11. Countless reports from experts on 9/11 who have viewed the program (meaning that none of these folks has actually seen it!) indicate numerous and serious inaccuracies that will undoubtedly serve to misinform the American people about the tragic events surrounding the terrible attacks of that day (much like “Fahrenheit 911” did without any of these folks’ concern!). Furthermore, the manner in which this program has been developed, funded, and advertised suggests a partisan bent unbecoming of a major company like Disney and a major and well respected news organization like ABC. We therefore urge you to cancel this broadcast to cease Disney's plans to use it as a teaching tool in schools across America through Scholastic. Presenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage (sounds eerily similar to conservative complaints about “Fahrenheit 911,” doesn’t it?) of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to the nation.

(Now the threats begin!) The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events.

Disney and ABC claim this program to be based on the 9/11 Commission Report and are using that assertion as part of the promotional campaign for it. The 9/11 Commission is the most respected American authority on the 9/11 attacks (by whom?), and association with it carries a special responsibility. Indeed, the very events themselves on 9/11, so tragic as they were, demand extreme care by any who attempt to use those events as part of an entertainment or educational program (once again, this was the position conservatives took concerning the misinformation about 9/11 presented by Michael Moore that fell on deaf ears). To quote Steve McPhereson, president of ABC Entertainment, "When you take on the responsibility of telling the story behind such an important event, it is absolutely critical that you get it right."

These concerns are made all the more pressing by the political leaning of and the public statements made by the writer/producer of this miniseries, Mr. Cyrus Nowrasteh (once again what was brought under serious question concerning Michael Moore’s political leanings), in promoting this miniseries across conservative blogs and talk shows.
Should Disney allow this programming to proceed as planned, the factual record, millions of viewers, countless schoolchildren, and the reputation of Disney as a corporation worthy of the trust of the American people and the United States Congress will be deeply damaged. We urge you, after full consideration of the facts, to uphold your responsibilities as a respected member of American society and as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program. We look forward to hearing back from you soon.


Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid
Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Senator Charles Schumer
Senator Byron Dorgan
I imagine many readers would only give serious consideration to the positions of these five senators if they had taken similar actions to stop the distribution of “Fahrenheit 9/11.” As this wasn’t the case – and, as depicted by NewsBusters here, was actually the complete opposite – the expressed opinions by these fives senators is nothing less than laughable, and, in reality, quite offensive.
Don't forget another Dem censorship job achieved by virtue of government threats. Stolen Honor ring a bell? It should:
Sinclair Broadcasting owns 62 local TV stations around the country. It planned to air Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal on about 40 of them in October 2004. That would be right before the presidential election. But the Kerry campaign got wind of it and threatened Sinclair that its licenses might be in jeopardy if it aired the doc and Kerry happened to win.
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Two polar opposite reactions from the political parties. When "The Reagans" came out in 2003 and "Fahrencrap 911" came out just prior to the 2004 election, I didn't see any efforts from the GOP-controlled Senate or from the White House to use their positions of power to stop the shows from running. No implicit or explicit threats from the GOP to revoke licenses. No, that kind of government thuggery can best be expected from the left, and God help us if those Stalinists return to power.