Bozell's Column

Television network executives are "vulgarians" selling "dirt" and "filth," thereby sending America "down a moral sewer" and "distort[ing] the ethical perceptions of our children." The words of a fundamentalist preacher... A right-wing media critic? No, this denunciation of the television industry came from former "Tonight Show" host Steve Allen, in a June 9 speech at the Banff TV Festival in Canada. Coincidentally, also on June 9 the Parents Television Council released its list of the most offensive programs on prime time network television. It proves Mr. Allen's point. Two series on the list - ABC's "High Incident" at #6 and... continue reading
Two New Developments at PBS by L. Brent Bozell III June 12, 1997 Two recent developments in public broadcasting deserve discussion: 1. Lawrence Grossman, a former president of PBS, has proposed that public television stations air programs containing commercials two nights a week. If that proposal weren't shocking enough, it's backed by top executives at major public TV stations in Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Miami, and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Reporting this electric bit of news, New York Times reporter Lawrie Mifflin added that eight public stations experimented with commercials in the early 1980s. The experiment was discontinued - but not because... continue reading
In November 1990, a few days after incumbent Republican Jesse Helms bested Democrat Harvey Gantt in their North Carolina U.S. Senate race, a campaign marked by an invasion of Hollywood leftists into that state, I wrote several of them, teasing them for their unsuccessful support of Gantt. Two responded. One was Indigo Girls manager Russell Carter, who in his sophomoric ramble called my letter "pathetic" and described Helms as "petty, racist... narrow-minded... a demagogue." The other simply expressed hope that despite this setback, liberalism would eventually prevail. It was signed, "Best personal wishes, Paul Newman." Yes, Newman is a class... continue reading
The Unbearable Lightness of Network News by L. Brent Bozell III June 5, 1997 The wine-and-brie set in the liberal media (predictably) are blustering against CBS for plucking Susan Molinari out of Congress to anchor its Saturday morning news show. But a look at the program CBS is considering as a model - NBC's Saturday Today show - demonstrates how unnecessary is this panic. NBC doesn't bother co-hosts with news reading. They play a different role, making transitions from news to weather to commercials, and hosting the interview segments. How political is the Saturday morning show? Let's focus on Today's... continue reading
Late last month, Washington, D.C.'s Cato Institute hosted a debate on television's parental-guidance ratings. Cato's own Lawrence Gasman served as moderator. Rick Cotton, an executive vice president at NBC; Robert Corn-Revere, former counsel to FCC commissioner James Quello; and yours truly tackled the issue. My fellow panelists deserve credit for representing their constituencies well. Cotton is a mouthpiece for the television industry. Corn-Revere, a hardened libertarian, comes from the so-what camp that dismisses the television ratings debate as trite political posturing. Together these gentlemen advanced a flurry of arguments dismissing the need for a serious ratings system, and proved just... continue reading
A recent Parents Television Council study found that of the four full-time networks, ABC was the least offensive during the 8 o'clock "family" hour, when children are likeliest to be watching. Moreover, "Roseanne" has at long last emitted its final, foul-smelling breath, so there was reason to think the network might be even more family-oriented next season. That was wishful thinking, it turns out, the main reason being that ABC plans to move "Spin City" from 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays to 8 p.m. Wednesdays. In the race to determine TV's raunchiest sitcom, "Spin City" competes with NBC's "Friends" and "Men Behaving... continue reading
CIA-Crack Story Implodes: Where are the Network Retractions? by L. Brent Bozell III May 22, 1997 Something very strange happened at the San Jose Mercury News. Executive Editor Jerry Ceppos wrote a column telling readers that the paper's explosive, overwrought series "Dark Alliance" - which alleged the CIA helped hook American blacks on crack - wasn't exactly accurate. "We fell short of my standards for the Mercury News...I believe that we fell short at every step of our the writing, editing, and production of our work." Corrections don't usually come in prominent corners of the newspaper. Ceppos showed rare... continue reading
Who Cares About Taxing Poor Smokers? by L. Brent Bozell III May 21, 1997 The debate over the gargantuan tobacco-crackdown bills before Congress is providing a fascinating demonstration of how the left, both in and out of the media, put political gain ahead of principle. Everybody knows the media like to skip the hard work of actually reading the bills under consideration, choosing instead to read quickly from Cliffs Notes press releases, while focusing their energies on the relatively unimportant ups and downs of political warfare. This is particularly true of the new push for taxing the snot out of... continue reading
A few years ago, in an exchange of correspondence, came this simple message from ABC's Sam Donaldson: "Remember, always professional, never personal." Good advice for anyone who analyzes the words and actions of another. But not always. From time to time a person comes on the scene who is so disgusting, and whose message is so revolting, that one should take the affront personally. Which is why I hope someone smacks that pig of a "man," the so-called musician Marilyn Manson, right in the chops. Literally. Manson and his band stopped in Washington this month on a concert tour, performing... continue reading
Stop the Madness of "Poor Susan McDougal" by L. Brent Bozell III May 15, 1997 When Ollie North announced he was running for the Senate in Virginia in 1994, CBS "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer invited him on the show, only to assault him with 26 questions about lying in 17 minutes: "How can I know when you are telling the truth?...What's the criteria to know that Oliver North is telling the truth? Only under oath or all the time?" No doubt Schieffer would defend himself by pointing out that Col. North was embroiled in controversy and "the public's... continue reading