cbs vs moveon 2

Date: Wed, 4 Feb 2004 14:36:53 -0500
From: Crtnet News
Subject: Disc: MoveOn #7951
February 4, 2004, Number 7951
Communication Research and Theory Network
a service of the National Communication Association
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Re: Disc: MoveOn #7950 (James Aune)
Re: MoveOn.Org/Irene Grau’s post (Natalie Sydorenko)
MoveOn funding (Stephen D. Cooper)
Moveon.com (Phillip Dalton)
CBS censorship and MoveOn (Mark Andrejevic)
Re: Disc: MoveOn #7950 (Warren J. Bareiss)
MoveOn #7950 (Paul Oehlke)
Date: Wed 2/4/04
From: James Aune jaune@tamu.edu
Let’s see: MoveOn.org is promoted “hate-filled” messages, according to the Republican National Committee. This is the same political party that ran an ad in Georgia last year in which triple-amputee Vietnam Vet Max Cleland’s face morphed into that of Osama bin Laden. It is the same party that has sucked up to that lovable junkie Rush Limbaugh when he compares Chelsea Clinton to a dog, implicates Bill Clinton in murder, and tells a black caller to “get the bone out of his nose.”
Go figure. . . As Joseph Welch said during the Army-McCarthy hearings: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?”
Jim Aune
Who is now functionally disenfranchised by Tom DeLay because his town has lots of blacks and hispanics. . .
The Texas Republic for Christ
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Date: Wed 2/4/04
From: Natalie Sydorenko natsyd@yahoo.com
Nicely put, Irene. Personally, as a supporter of MoveOn.org, I must say it has inspired me rhetorically more than anything else as of late. It offers many ideas, opportunites and challenges for/of political, activist, environmental, ideological, and internet rhetorics. And not to be picky, just accurate, it’s Eli Pariser (pres./founder of MoveOn), not Eli Parisi. For teacher-scholars, I believe MoveOn.org is a communicative and social phenomenon worth checking out. Peace to all.
Natalie Sydorenko
School of Communication
University of Akron
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Date: Wed 2/4/04
From: Stephen D. Cooper coopers@marshall.edu
Does anybody know where the money came from, to produce the spots in MoveOn’s contest? I’m just curious–whatever the source of the funding, it’s political speech and hence protected–but the production values are quite high, as well as I can judge on my computer monitor (check out the slick lighting in the winning spot), and that level of quality doesn’t come cheap. Moreover, networks won’t even consider airing video that’s below broadcast spec, so it seems safe (since that wasn’t CBS’s reason to refuse the contest winner) to assume that all of the entries were broadcast quality in their production values.
It just seems weird to me that a bunch of Joe- and Jane-Sixpacks out there would be so exercised about the Bush administration that they’d pony up all that much of their own dough just to put together a contest *entry*. Not impossible–just implausible. These things aren’t home camcorder jobs, I’m pretty sure.
Stephen D. Cooper, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Communication Studies
Marshall University
coopers@marshall.edu
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Date: Wed 2/4/04
From: Phillip Dalton pdalton@stetson.edu
My suspicions:
Trying to make sense of why Professor (?) Oehlke repetitively refers to Moveon’s spots as “hate-filled” I can’t help but think that he is trying to use what he thinks is “liberal scare language” to either argue in favor of the CBS refusal to air the spots or to point out the absurdity of the use of “hate-filled” as a rhetorical device.
Let’s assume for a moment that Oehlke meant to support CBS’s refusal to air the spot. I’m curious about the ground on which this judgment is premised. Does he believe it best that we not confront issues such as matters of taxation in a “public-ish” forum? Ideally, what is to be gained by refusing to address the issue of the deficit when the largest US audience is convened? I’m puzzled: In principal, even Republicans believe in transparency and deliberation.
However, Oehlke may have been trying to upset liberals by using one of their rhetorical tactics. For instance, I believe it is presumed by many that the act of communicating messages contrary to, for example, minority leaders is often met with the ham-fisted response that that the rhetor is a “hater” or is “hate-filled.” Fed up with this type of accusation, Oehlke believes it is time to start throwing the same barb around at others when he disagrees with them. Unfortunately, I don’t think this tactic is going to resonate well with many in this forum.
Then again, let’s assume that Oehlke genuinely felt that airing the spot would have contributed to “hate.” Let’s grant for a moment that hate would have been propagated by the advertisement. It should be pointed out that Moveon never recommended hating Bush. In fact, certain groups far enough on the political right, after viewing the spot comparing Bush to Hitler, may have liked Bush more, never having realized the connection. Anyway, I agree that the comparison was sophomoric. Moveon, however, didn’t endorse the advertisement, they just failed to refuse it entry to a contest. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Moveon was going to run an entirely different advertisement than the Bush-Hitler spot. Regarding the Deficit spot Moveon wanted to run, it is my suspicion that propagating hate toward deficits is a conservative enterprise. You should be applauding their efforts. Right?
Philip D. Dalton, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Stetson University
Dept. of Communication Studies
421 N. Woodland Blvd., Unit 8377
DeLand, FL 32723
386-822-8945
pdalton@stetson.edu
http://www.stetson.edu/~pdalton
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Date: Wed 2/4/04
From: Mark Andrejevic mark-andrejevic@uiowa.edu
There is little doubt that CBS’s decision (even if it were not based, as it claims, on longstanding policy) could stand as a fine example of a decision made, as one poster put it, for “purely business reasons.” However, we might question just how pure such reasons are. From a business perspective it would certainly seem counterproductive to air an advertisement antagonizing the party that dominates the executive and legislative branches — and the leadership of the FCC — when you’re desperately trying to squeak through rule changes that will allow you to become even bigger and more powerful as a media organization. It would be idiotic to do so at a time when your company (Viacom) is already over the limit and looking to expand — and would have to sell off properties if those rules weren’t changed. If democracy relies upon vigorous public debate, an informed populace, and critical scrutiny of its leaders, it seems worth asking the question of whether a conglomerate in the !
process of trying to persuade those leaders to allow it to expand economically is up to the task. It may be true that this was not an example of censorship because it wasn’t the direct result of a government directive, but that doesn’t mean we needn’t concern ourselves with the ways in which market forces (NOT consumer demand, but rather the attempt of giant corporations to influence regulatory policy) shape the information we receive. For example — and directly related to the CBS/Viacom decision: did CBS cover the fact that the recent spending bill actually raised the cap governing ownership rules? Not according to my Lexis search (did I miss it?). Despite the coverage generated by the flap over these rules in the Senate in the fall, there has been precious little follow up (I owe thanks to a colleague for informing me that the rule change was included in the spending bill — this was easy to miss if you weren’t paying close attention). So maybe MoveOn will get a smatter!
ing of publicity for its ad, but what didn’t get covered might be even
As for the content of the commercial, this administration has been wonderful at getting the opposition to play directly into its hands — a fact that opponents might do well to consider. Specifically, it’s worth asking the extent to which the ready critique of the Bush administration for running up the deficit might fit quite neatly with its goal of eliminating social programs and offloading governance onto private corporations and individuals. Those who would ground their Bush critique on the deficit might feel the ground give way beneath them when the administration suddenly agrees and slashes budgets for medicaid, education, national parks, the environment, the arts, regulatory enforcement, and so on.
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Date: Wed 2/4/04
From: Warren J. Bareiss bareissw2@UofS.edu
Paul Pilger (CRTNET 7950) writes that CBS is not guilty of censorship because, says Dr. Pilger, censorship is “government restraint of free speech.” According to my trusty Random House dictionary, a censor is an official, but an official is not necessarily a member of the government.
Let’s consider censorship in the history of U.S. film. In order to avoid government censorship, the industry censored itself from the 1930s at least through the 1950s via an internal body–the MPAA.
Also, broadcasting networks had internal censors at least up until the 1980s. They still might have them; I don’t know. They weren’t officially called “censors,” although they did screen all scripts and edited “offensive” material. The great radio comedian, Fred Allen, is famous for his ongoing squabbles with NBC censors. Along similar lines, I was just chatting with a colleague about the TV producer, Chuck Barris (“The Gong Show”) who–in a recent documentary shown on Trio–discussed his strategies for confounding TV censors.
My point is that the word “censorship” does apply to private entities’ internal decisions.
Secondly, Dr. Pilger says that MoveOn.Org is “happy” about not running the ad, because MoveOn.Org would save a lot of money. Dr. Pilger seems to assume that everyone, including MoveOn.Org, shares the same bottom-line, corporate mentality. I can’t speak for the people who run MoveOn.Org, but I can say that as a person who sent them $20 to run the ad, I am not at all happy that the ad wasn’t run during the Super Bowl. On the other hand, I am delighted to know that the spot will be shown on CNN, etc.
Finally, this really isn’t an issue of freedom of speech, in one sense. For almost seven decades now, broadcast networks have established the rules for who may speak via the airwaves. Apart from professional program producers and the occasional person-in-the-street interview, access to the airwaves is based on a pay-as-you-go method that we know as “sponsorship” (or “underwriting” in public broadcasting). If you have something to say, you pay. The situation with CBS and MoveOn.Org suggests that the bar is even higher–payment plus a message that does not offend or challenge the political powers that be.
Best wishes,
Warren Bareiss
University of Scranton
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Date: Wed 2/4/04
From: Paul Oehlke rhetscholar@mac.com
Regarding the CBS rejection of the MoveOn.com spot during the Super Bowl spot, I offer the following responses (CRTNet 7950) Corporate Responsibility – MoveOn.com is responsible for what appears on its web site. By serving as host for the hate-filled spot comparing President Bush to Hitler, MoveOn.com acknowledged that its content fit within the boundaries of acceptable discourse for the organization. Mistakes, however, happen. MoveOn.com, to my knowledge, hasn’t claimed that inclusion of the spot was a mistake. By providing the stage for the spot’s wide distribution, MoveOn.com is responsible for its content. I’m not ill-informed about the nature of the MoveOn.com contest as Sheilah McIntosh Coffey claims, I’m simply not convinced that the inclusion of the Bush-Hitler ad was an innocent exercise of free speech.
Freedom of Speech – MoveOn.com’s freedom of speech was not violated in any meaningful sense. Paul A. Pilger explains in his post that freedom of speech refers to freedom from government restriction of speech and not the decision of CBS, a private corporation, to reject a spot. MoveOn.com’s support of speech chilling ‘harassment’ and ‘hate’ crimes policies in addition to its embrace of speech chilling campaign finance reform policies illustrate the organization’s enthusiasm for using government and government agencies to suppress free speech. MoveOn.com’s claim that its free speech rights have been violated is as empty as it is disingenuous.
Hate-Filled Speech – The ‘reasonable person’ and ‘reasonable woman’ standards are the basis for successfully establishing actionable claims in harassment case law. A reasonable person and/or a ‘reasonable conservative’ (the persons against whom the Bush-Hitler spot is meant to offend) would find the ad to be hate-filled. As a teen, I had the nauseating experience of visiting the Dachau concentration camp. After all these years, I still vividly recall the machinery of torture and death on display which was used against those the National Socialist Worker’s Party identified as socially as its political enemies and social undesirables. I believe that reasonable persons will agree that drawing the analogy between the Hitler’s crimes against humanity and GW Bush’s policies is hateful. Emilie Falc may not be aware of hate-filled speech other than the Bush-Hitler spot. A reasonable person and most certainly, a reasonable conservative would find a great deal at the MoveOn.com site t!
o be hate-filled.
One of the fruits of the relationship between NCA-Southern Poverty Law Center’s initiative to develop the tools and methods to identity and combat hate speech ought to be a swift and unequivocal condemnation of the Hitler-Bush spot and the organization which served as its host. Indeed, this is an ideal test case to demonstrate a principled application of the NCA’s efforts to speak forcefully against hate speech. We shall see…
Controversy – Hugh Munro ask’s ‘since when was alcohol consumption noncontroversial?’ The answer, of course, is ‘alcohol consumption and over-consumption has always been a source of controversy.” Munro makes a fundamental mistake of most social reformers by projecting a degree of personal outrage onto to an audience that does not share his outrage. Alcohol spots are simply not controversial to most football fans. Besides, spots that promote responsible drinking are aired during football games without controversy. The alcohol objection is simply a red herring designed to deflect attention from the fact that the
MoveOn.com spot was judged by CBS to be highly controversial to too large a segment of their audience to be worth the trouble. Emilie Falc’s asserts that my reasoning is defective because of use of defective appeal to tradition apparently misunderstands the fallacy cited. Appeal to tradition is a perfectly acceptable means of warranting an argument. Because Falc finds disagreeable a close historical connection between alcohol consumption and football doesn’t mean that tradition is at all faulty or defective. In addition his analogy between excessive alcohol consumption and slavery is sufficiently faulty as to be virtually a non sequitur. Arguments concerning the inability to control one’s alcohol consumption are simply not of the same logical type as arguments concerning the right of one person to hold another person in bondage.
Media Access – Sean Johnson Andrews can’t resist mocking the serious substance abuse problem Rush Limbaugh has with prescription medication. Putting aside what is a hate-filled and unfeeling reaction toward a person who is working to control his addiction, Andrews believes that MoveOn.com is entitled to use media outlets the organization has neither created nor built. CBS is the product of a lot of hard work by William Paley and his successors. The network has succeeded where many others failed. One of the reasons for CBS’s success is a continual concern for the content of its broadcasts. The flap over the Janet Jackson flashing incident illustrates the bad publicity and damage caused by a bad programming decision. Similarly, Rush Limbaugh virtually single-handedly created AM talk radio. At a time when AM radio was in serious trouble, Limbaugh invented a highly attractive format for an audience the felt politically ‘marginalized’ if not despised by the dominant media opinion!
makers and gatekeepers. His success and the success of conservative talk radio was never inevitable. MoveOn.com is free to create its own media strategy that most effectively promotes its message. Rather than engaging in a neo-Marxist anti-capitalist rant bemoaning the fact that established media empires won’t air the MoveOn.com spot, the organization’s time would be far better spent creating the next media revolution. There’s no inherent barrier preventing MoveOn.com from creating and controlling a media colossus that would make airing a spot during the Superbowl ‘small change’ by comparison.
Paul W. Oehlke

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