Your Entertainment Dollars At Risk! 11.25.04
from Frank Rich's NYTimes article:
It's beginning to look a lot like "Groundhog Day." Ever since 22 percent of the country's voters said on Nov. 2 that they cared most about "moral values," opportunistic ayatollahs on the right have been working overtime to inflate this nonmandate into a landslide by ginning up cultural controversies that might induce censorship by a compliant F.C.C. and, failing that, self-censorship by TV networks. Seizing on a single overhyped poll result, they exaggerate their clout, hoping to grab power over the culture.... It took a British publication, The Economist, to point out that the percentage of American voters citing moral and ethical values as their prime concern is actually down from 2000 (35 percent) and 1996 (40 percent).
To see how the hucksters of the right work their scam, there could be no more illustrative example than the "Monday Night Football" episode in which Ms. Sheridan leaped into the arms of the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens in order to give the declining weekly game (viewership is down 3 percent from 2003) a shot of Viagra. From the get-go, it was a manufactured scandal, as over-the-top as a dinner theater production of "The Crucible."
Rush Limbaugh, taking a break from the legal deliberations of his drug rap and third divorce, set the hysterical tone. "I was stunned!" he told his listeners. "I literally could not believe what I had seen. ... At various places on the Net you can see the video of this, and she's buck naked, folks. I mean when they dropped the towel she's naked. You see enough of her back and rear end to know that she was naked. There's no frontal nudity in the thing, but I mean you don't need that. ...I mean, there are some guys with their kids that sit down to watch 'Monday Night Football.' "
Yes, there are - some, anyway - but you wonder how many of them were as upset as Mr. Limbaugh, whose imagination led him to mistake a lower back for a rear end. (He also said that the Sheridan-Owens encounter reminded him of the Kobe Bryant case; let's not even go there.) The evidence suggests that Mr. Limbaugh's prurient mind is the exception, not the rule. Though seen nationwide, and as early as 6 p.m. on the West Coast, the spot initially caused so little stir that the next morning only two newspapers in the country, both in Philadelphia, reported on it. ABC's switchboards were not swamped by shocked viewers on Monday night. A spokesman for ABC Sports told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he hadn't received a single phone call or e-mail in the immediate aftermath of the broadcast.