Accuracy in Media

Watching the Redskins-Saints football game on Sunday afternoon with members of my family, we were repeatedly subjected to a promotional ad for a “Family Guy” Christmas episode showing a dog kissing a woman, throwing up on the floor, and then asking, “You gonna eat that?” The football announcer advised viewers to stay tuned for the “Family Guy” episode but that “viewer discretion is advised.” Why does Rupert Murdoch, the so-called conservative who runs Fox Broadcasting, not only tolerate this kind of trash but promote it to kids on his network?

I watched the game on and off, but I think this promo was shown at least three times that I can remember. I can sit through countless beer commercials but an ad for a network show about a puking dog?

Perhaps I will be branded as an unsophisticated TV watcher. I’ve never watched an episode of this animated program and never intend to. Some people seem to think “Family Guy” can be funny at times. I don’t know what was supposed to be funny about a dog throwing up and wondering who was going to eat the vomit. Maybe this was their way of trying to get me to watch the entire episode. Was there some coherent story line behind this brief excerpt? I don’t know and I don’t care. It didn’t motivate me to watch the program. Instead, it made me write this column. I’m the sick one?sick and tired of trash like this being marketed to an NFL audience that includes families. It was like Fox was thumbing its nose at the viewing audience, daring us to turn the channel. But this was one game that the Redskins were winning and won.  So I stayed tuned.

What I really resent is for Fox Broadcasting to run ads for this sick and trashy program when families are watching. It’s as if they were deliberately trying to hook or tease kids. When the announcer says that viewer discretion is advised, it seems to me he’s trying to entice or lure kids into watching it. I don’t mean the announcer hired by Fox was personally guilty; he’s only doing what he’s told. But the suits running Fox have a method in their madness. Anybody who sees a dog throwing up has to know this is not family-friendly programming. But I guess the point is to make us giggle, as if it’s funny for something like this to be shown on national television.

Their airing filled me with disgust for the entire corporate conglomerate behind the NFL broadcast. Of course, we have known this about Murdoch, head of News Corporation, parent of Fox Broadcasting, for a long time. It seems he will do almost anything to make a buck. The recently cancelled O.J. Simpson book and TV deal, which he had approved, is one indication of that.

As someone who has confronted Murdoch about inaccuracies and bias on his Fox News Channel (FNC) programs, it is important to note that he was known as a sleaze merchant long before he established FNC. Conservatives have to understand, however, that FNC is part of the same company behind Fox Broadcasting and the Fox TV stations carrying the football game. In fact, a representative of the Parents Television Council was at the News Corporation annual meeting on October 20, going into detail about the sex, violence and sleaze that is regularly aired by Fox. Murdoch meekly replied that he tried to air such controversial material later in the evening, when kids are not in the viewing audience.

This defense won’t work in the case of the “Family Guy” promos, which aired between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. EST.

When I recently wrote a column about the O.J. Simpson book and TV special, noting they were part of the same company behind Fox News, some people said that I should give credit to the FNC hosts and personalities who criticized the decision to market such trash. I responded that I believed that the TV program and book deal were cancelled because too many Fox TV affiliates had balked at airing the special.

But the point is a good one. Bill O’Reilly, host of the most popular FNC program, did criticize the deal that would have put the Simpson book and program on the market. Good for him.

In the same vein, let’s use this “Family Guy” controversy to see if anybody on FNC, including its well-paid conservative contributors, uses their blogs and columns to denounce Murdoch for pushing sleaze to a TV audience that includes fathers and mothers and their children. If they fail to hold Murdoch accountable, we will know that this is one conflict-of-interest that will prevent the truth from being told.

O’Reilly, author of Culture Warrior, should turn more of his attention to the FNC parent company. If he really believes what he writes and says, he should start waging war on those paying his salary. That’s one battle he will richly deserve to win, and for which he will receive our whole-hearted support.

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