C for Censorship? CBS Bars Advertisements Of “The Truth” Movie On Bush Military Record

Truth_2015_posterThere is an interesting story coming out of CBS this week where the network has refused to air advertisements for Truth by Sony Pictures Classics. The problem is that the film starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford places CBS in a negative light in exploring the network controversy over airing the 2004 news story on former President George W. Bush’s military service record. The story was discredited and CBS fired producer Mary Mapes. Anchor Dan Rather later retired from CBS. [For full disclosure, I worked for CBS as an on-air analyst with Rather and thought very highly of him in our work on the Bush v. Gore coverage].

Dan_Rather_PeabodyThe movie has received high critical acclaim. Redford plays Dan Rather in Truth and Blanchett plays Mapes in recounting the investigation into Bush’s Vietnam War-era commitment to service in the Texas Air National Guard. The film tells the story from the perspective of Mapes and Rather. Rather left in 2006 and later unsuccessfully sued the network.

CBS views the movie as inaccurate and denounced it as a disservice to the public and journalists. However, that does not answer the question of a media company barring advertisements based on the content of a film. It seems to me rather hypocritical for an organization dedicated to free speech. Sony is advertising on ABC, NBC, Fox and several cable networks, but not CBS.

150px-CBS_Eyemark.svgCBS has an obvious conflict of interest in dealing with the film, which is precisely why I would have argued for neutrality in allowing the advertisements to air. There is no bar on CBS reporting on the film and challenging the accuracy. However, the blackout on advertising leaves the appearance that CBS wants to quash access or knowledge of a film that is inherently critical of CBS leadership in stomping on Mapes and Rather. CBS could well be right about the story and their work. However, that is a matter for public judgment and CBS should not be in a position of censoring advertisements when it does not like the content of a work.

When journalists are seen as censoring information because they disagree with a point of view, the result is an erosion of credibility and integrity of the field as a whole. Media has long subscribed to the view that the solution to bad speech is more speech. Here CBS is seeking to actively shield the public from knowledge of a film that is critical of its management. That is a far worst message than anything that the film make represent or misrepresent.

What do you think?

Source: CBS

53 thoughts on “C for Censorship? CBS Bars Advertisements Of “The Truth” Movie On Bush Military Record”

  1. Mark-I agree. TTIP is a huge, undisclosed, unaccountable, non-transparent crony corporate grab bag o’ gifts. People (those of us who will pay for this and who consume the corporate products) should at least have the opportunity to hear about it, pro and con, on the news. But crickets. It’s surprisingly unpublicized even though there have been massive protests in Europe. Hmm.

  2. If you want to see what true media manipulation/censorship looks like, do a little easy research. Here’s the assignment. First, a little background. On October 10th the people of Germany held a protest against the TTiP agreement between the US and the EU. This is the cousin of the TPA with Pacific rim countries. Both agreements place the needs of corporations and the 0.1% above the people and our Constitution. Between 100,000 and 250,000 people showed up that day. I would think that a protest of this size would at least illicit a small story on any of the US major media outlets, wouldn’t you?
    So here’s the assignment. Visit CNN, FOX, CBS, NBC, ABC news websites and type into their sites search engine, “TTiP protest + Berlin.” I have not been able to find ANY references about this huge protest, although CNN did have an article that was posted by a citizen reporter in their “iReport” section.
    This is one of the problems when we let control of our newspaper and TV outlets to concentrate into so few hands. Manipulation/censorship becomes much easier. If it’s not reported upon, did it really happen?

    1. Even the news reports present utter nonsense as revered truth – one of the most laughable is the assertions that being against a trade agreement is being against free trade. I believe Kerry himself has made remarks to that effect.

      If it needs to be said, a trade agreement is not the same thing as free trade. In fact, what we know about TPP suggest that it has provisions to allow corporations to maintain their favored position in international trade – that is not free trade at all.

      Further, MSM presents free international trade as though it is uniformly good for everyone. But trade typically has both winners and losers. Our trade agreements enrich some and damage the job prospects and lives of others.

      Those losses ought to be discussed. MSM has failed to develop the discussion of who gains at the expense of others. What, exactly, is the real social cost of so called free trade?

      You won’t here the Kerrys of the world discussing how many jobs are lost, how many foreclosures blight our neighborhoods, how many futures cut short when they leave school for a minimum wage job that result from the trade agreements of the past.

      Do you hear any corporate spokespersons announcing ‘we did not do that ourselves – our success is due, in part, to favorable terms in trade agreements bought and paid for by unemployed workers’. You don’t here that in the MSM now do you?

      Why do you think something so obvious is so obscure in the news?

  3. The news is just a reality show about current events. There’s no “neutrality” in the presentation of the news and the erosion of credibilty of the “profession” of journalism is pretty much complete already. They’re not dedicated to free speech, they’re dedicated to THEIR free speech. That being said, Rather’s TANG Truthiness was outside the standard deviation of lies and omissions. Why should CBS feel any obligation to broadcast revisionist history on their channel?

  4. “Paul NO National Guard units were EVER sent to Vietnam!”

    You might want to check out the history of the 151st Infantry Regiment Indiana Army National Guard which deployed to Vietnam.

    Or the Air national Guard units that began flying regularly to Japan and South Vietnam beginning 1966 till 1972 to support Military Airlift Command operations.

    Or the 4 Air National Guard fighter squadrons depoyed to Republic of Vietnam after the TET offensive.

    Or the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron which began as a regular Air Force Squadron but deployed with nearly 50% personnel activated from 119th TFS NJ ANG and 121 TFS of the District of Columbia. In 1968 ANG members were given the opportunity to volunteer for a full year of duty. All 13 ANG pilots did volunteer. 87% of support personnel were ANG. ANG pilots were awarded 23 Silver Stars, 47 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 46 Bronze Stars with Combat V for valor while stationed at Phu Cat.

    I think their service is worth remembering.

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