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Beast of the Month - March 2004
Leslie Moonves, CBS President
"I yam an anti-Christ..."
John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"
In a time of fraudulent reasons for going to war in Iraq, mounting American casualties and record budget deficits, it's nice that media pundits can unite in their outrage on something that really matters: Janet Jackson revealing her breast during a Super Bowl halftime show.
Seriously, the Super Bowl show was indeed offensive - but not because of Ms. Jackson's Nipplegate. It was a crass and obnoxious display all around, with the lowlight being talentless jackass Kid Rock's lame flag-waving performance. Speaking of offensive, what do you call tasteful commercials involving horse fart flambe, dogs biting crotches and multiple innuendo-laden male impotence drugs? (Besides, of course, the usual glorification of beer and babes in bikinis.) All this for a game that is increasingly more violent while played by steroid-addicted mutants. And people are upset about seeing Janet's boob?
Who comes off worst in this whole affair? Perhaps it is Janet, who appears to be an aging tramp trying desperately to grasp some media attention with a pathetic imitation of the Madonna-Britney Spears lesbo-kiss stunt. Or maybe it's Justin Timberlake (the former 'N Sync-er who pulled the dress open) as he looks like a sissy-boy wimp with his denial of responsibility amid lame excuses of a "wardrobe malfunction."
No, it would have to be the korporate media in general - first for feigning unconvincing outrage over the whole so-called scandal. ("Yes, we are absolutely shocked and offended by the Janet Jackson nipple revelation. Let's watch it again in super slo mo!") Thanks to the constant bombardment of recent banal news coverage, Nipplegate has joined Madonna-Britney as the two pieces of celluloid that may have been even more closely examined than the Zapruder film. Meanwhile, in the hysteria that has followed, korporate media has snivelingly reacted to the frenzy (pushed by FCC chairman Michael Powell) by engaging in increasing censorship, leading all the way to the dumping of Mr. King of All Media Howard Stern from Clear Channel radio stations. (Clear Channel, it should be noted, is run by business associates of George Bush: in fact, company VP Tom Hicks is the guy who bought the Texas Rangers from a consortium Shrub was part of, making Georgie boy a multi-millionaire.)
If the finger was to be pointed at one individual who deserves contempt over Nipplegate, however, it would have to be Leslie Moonves, CBS President and The Konformist Beast of the Month.
This isn't the first snafu of recent that CBS and Mr. Moonves has been involved:
* Last April, the producer of a CBS Hitler miniseries was quickly fired after comparing Adolf to George Bush. (That will get rid of those Hitler analogies.)
* In June, CBS News got into a controversy over its attempt to lure Jessica Lynch into an exclusive interview, offering as bait a lucrative book and TV movie deal if she agreed.
* In November, a planned sweeps month special tribute special for Janet's brother Michael (to coincide with the release of a Greatest Hits collection) was upended when the King of Pop got busted on child molestation charges. (Which leads to a defense for Janet's Nipplegate she never bothered to use: "Hey, cut me some slack, at least I'm not molesting boys!")
* Also in November, Mr. Moonves was personally behind the spineless pulling of The Reagans miniseries from the same sweeps schedule, after a right-wing eruption of mouth-foaming outrage ensued over its unfriendly portrait of the former First Couple. (It was instead shown on CBS' pay-cable sister station Showtime, which had shown only two months before the dreadful TV movie DC 9/11.) While The Reagans was hardly Roots, Shogun or The Thorn Birds, the suppression of it from public airwaves was a bad sign for Freedom of Speech. As writer Neal Gabler put it, "CBS, in pulling this film, did incredible harm, much more harm than they could ever have done in making the film." Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle stated the decision "smells of intimidation to me."
* In January, CBS was in another Michael Jackson controversy over how 60 Minutes obtained an interview with him. CBS agreed to finally air his tribute special if he agreed to the exclusive talk. Softball questions were lobbed to Wacko Jacko as he played an unconvincing victim of police abuse, claiming in his freakish cake-makeup look that he had been (hold the snickers, please) "man-handled" by the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department. For the quid quo pro special, Jackson received a cool million dollars.
* Also in January, CBS refused to air a powerful Super Bowl commercial from MoveOn.org deeply critical of the Bush administration's destructive economic policies, titled "Child's Play." CBS claimed it did so because of a policy against "issue" ads during the Super Bowl. Oddly, it did show a Bush Team ad touting the new controversial Medicare prescription drug plan favored by drug and insurance companies, titled "Same Medicare. More Benefits." Had they allowed the MoveOn ad to air, half of all Americans would have seen it.
What pattern is shown by these examples? Besides a desire to shed all journalistic values to receive high ratings over media frenzy exclusives (as well as an unhealthy business relationship with the Jackson family) the most revealing tendency is the need to suppress any speech that flies in the face of the right-wing administration which currently squats the White House.
This is no accident. CBS is owned by Viacom, one of the six largest corporations that dominate the mass media. As such, it currently awaits federal decisions on telecommunication ownership rules. These rulings are worth millions of dollars, and will be decided by men tied to the Bushistas. As Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy bluntly put it over The Reagans fiasco: "They made a business decision. In doing so, they clearly caved in to the political pressure."
The punchline is that despite Moonves' gutless behavior, CBS has been ripped over the Nipplegate fiasco by the same right-wing mouthpieces who they have been catering to in cowardice. Perhaps that will be a good lesson to others who think appeasement of the BushMob is a good idea.
In any case, we salute Leslie Moonves as Beast of the Month.. Congratulations, and keep up the great work, Les!!!
Post Office Box 24825
Los Angeles, California 90024-0825
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