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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Conservative interests at work

 
 

Who will win the Super Bowl – the Pats or the Cats? This Sunday, an estimated 90 million U.S. viewers will tune in to CBS to find out. But it is what the viewers will not see that has proven controversial.
The Web site MoveOn.org recently held a contest titled “Bush in 30 Seconds.” The contest sought half-minute television advertisements that best portrayed the negative effects of President George W. Bush’s policies on the country. The Web site wanted to buy airtime to run a commercial entitled “Child’s Play” during the Super Bowl. But CBS announced on Jan. 15 that it refused to run the ad during this Sunday’s broadcast along with an ad from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
This is a cowardly move by CBS, which should have allowed the online advocacy group to buy air time. After all, it wasn’t a question of money.The reasoning used by CBS for rejecting the ad may seem understandable at first. The network says it has a policy of not running ads involving political issues, according to the online magazine Salon.com. But this reasoning crumbles when one learns that CBS plans to air no less than three politically-geared advertisements during the Super Bowl. One is an anti-smoking commercial and another is a public service announcement about AIDS.
Although there is some debate concerning smoking legislation and substantial concern about AIDS prevention, these two ads are unlikely to upset too many people and probably will not create any noticeable controversy.
The third political ad CBS is running, however, is highly controversial. It originates from The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. It is highly inappropriate that CBS will air a spot from the Bush administration but not an ad that attacks the policies of said administration. To be fair, if CBS airs one side’s advertisement, the other side should also get airtime if it can afford to buy it.
The winning ad of MoveOn.org’s contest is unlikely to make many people angry. “Child’s Play” is a moving piece that depicts children washing dishes in restaurants, mopping floors, working in factories, etc. At the end of the spot, a simple question is asked, “Guess who’s going to pay off President Bush’s $1 trillion deficit?” This ad is especially poignant considering the release of the annual budget report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Monday. The report says the government could easily accumulate another $2.4 trillion in debt, according to a Washington Post story.
Some observers have said Super Bowl viewers do not want to view potentially divisive advertising from an admittedly progressive group. They argue the Super Bowl is a time when America, indeed much of the world, comes together to watch one of the biggest sports spectacles on Earth. Their reasoning is that the only dividing lines that should be drawn that day should be between those supporting Tom Brady’s Patriots or Jake Delhomme’s Panthers.
Some have also said if the ad had aired, instead of convincing people that Bush was doing a poor job in office as intended, MoveOn.org’s efforts would have backfired and even more people would support the president after he came under attack during America’s biggest sporting event. This may very well be the case, but if it can cough up the money, MoveOn.org has the right to take that risk.
The refusal by CBS to run the MoveOn.org ad and the one by PETA shows a growing conservative ideology on the part of the network – or at the very least, the willingness to kowtow to conservative demands. Earlier this television season, CBS cancelled a planned November sweeps miniseries entitled “The Reagans” after conservative groups demanded the movie not be aired. CBS also faced criticisms over another miniseries – this one concerning Adolf Hitler – but still aired the program.
MoveOn.org calls CBS’ refusal to air its ad censorship. While it is not quite on the level of government censorship, the actions of CBS are deserving of criticism for stifling the great American tradition of debate. Let us hope that the network that airs the next Super Bowl will be more open to letting advocacy groups pay for commercials that deserve to be aired.

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