Networks Sweep Bush Under the Rug

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Pabst, May 26, 2004.

  1. Pabst


    John Kass
    TV networks sweep Bush under the rug

    Published May 26, 2004

    When President Bush addressed a nation at war the other evening in an important speech, I wondered:

    Would he make it clear that the United States will not abandon the Iraqi people? Would he outline the steps to transfer power to Iraq?

    So I turned on the TV to see for myself.

    But NBC, CBS and ABC--whose network news operations have gorged on stories about shortcomings of this administration's Iraq policy--were too busy to carry the president's speech about Iraq.

    The Fox network did not carry the speech either. Fox News did carry it, as did other cable news outlets.

    The networks said the White House did not ask for the TV time. But this is a sweeps period, meaning the networks are rated to determine how much they can charge advertisers. And what is important to commercial broadcasters is revenue.

    So on NBC, a fellow named Sean was sticking his head into tanks full of maggots. He sucked them into his mouth and ran over to spit them into a measuring bowl.

    The hit show is called "Fear Factor." In it, contestants battle for cash by subjecting themselves to what NBC executives consider terrifying challenges.

    "Go on! Take a big mouthful!" the announcer yelled. "C'mon, Sean! Take a mouthful, Sean!"

    Sean raced from tank to bowl. The clock ticked. The crowd cheered. The announcer shrieked.

    "C'mon! Sean! You've got to move faster! Hey, you are lagging behind there, bro!" the announcer yelled. "You're behind, bro!"

    I grabbed the remote control and switched to a cable news channel.

    "We did not seek this war on terror, but this is the world as we find it," Bush said. "We must keep our focus. We must do our duty. History is moving and it will tend toward hope, or tend toward tragedy."

    Back on NBC, Bud Light was selling beer. Then there was a commercial for a TV show involving men and women betraying each other for love and cash.

    An attractive young woman contestant--this is reality TV, so all the people are attractive, even journalists--was speaking:

    "If he is playing me," she warned, "I'm going to kill him!"

    ABC was running a movie, "A Beautiful Mind," about a mathematician who goes mad. It came out in 2001. But the old movie was more important to ABC than what the president of the United States had to say with Americans fighting and dying overseas.

    Fox ran a frightening makeover show, "The Swan," in which sad people are led to believe that plastic surgery will make them attractive and happy.

    A commercial for intestinal irregularity was running when I turned to CBS.

    But back on the cable news channel, the president was speaking.

    "Our terrorist enemies have a vision that guides and explains all their varied acts of murder," he said. "They seek to impose Taliban-like rule, country by country, across the greater Middle East.

    "They seek total control of every person in mind and soul, a harsh society in which women are voiceless and brutalized. They seek bases of operation to train more killers and export more violence. They commit dramatic acts of murder to shock, frighten and demoralize civilized nations, hoping we will retreat from the world and give them free rein."

    On CBS, there was a situation comedy. A man and a woman had just gotten out of bed. He was telling her about a dream involving country and western singer Shania Twain.

    "You were riding behind her on the back of the horse?" asked the woman, her face registering sitcom shock and surprise. A titter skipped along the back of the laugh track.

    "She's a better rider than me," her husband deadpanned. "And her hair smells like buttercups."

    More laughs.

    Back on the cable channel, the president was speaking.

    "These two visions, one of tyranny and murder, the other of liberty and life, clashed in Afghanistan," he said. "...These two visions have now met in Iraq and are contending for the future of that country."

    This isn't the first time the networks have ignored a presidential speech.

    You don't have to be interested in what the president has to say, either. Individual Americans are quite free to ignore our politicians.

    Millions of Democrats don't support this Republican president, just as millions of Republicans didn't support the last president, a Democrat.

    Yet, regardless of party, a president was speaking to his nation during a time of war, outlining vitally important information about turning over power to the Iraqi people.

    I couldn't help feeling ill. Our future is at stake over there. Yet the networks were more interested in Sean and the maggots than what the president of the United States had to say.

    Copyright © 2004, Chicago Tribune