For caving into pressure to cancel his network’s recent miniseries on Ronald Reagan, CBS president Les Moonves is a coward, plain and simple. His decision to pull the miniseries from CBS and hand it over to sister network Showtime was a weak move for the network and media in general.
Moonves claimed that the movie was “one-sided” and unfit to air. He only came to this conclusion after conservatives and members of the Reagan family complained.
But his actions are the only things that are one-sided. The same party that urged him to can the program also controls the House and the FCC. Their recent passage of rules deregulating media ownership rules will only allow Moonves and his peers to become wealthier and more powerful.
The media has never considered the feelings of others before, and Moonves’ choice to start now is a blatant political move.
CBS didn’t hesitate to air “Perfect Murder, Perfect Town” in 2000, a graphic depiction of the Jon Benet Ramsey murder. The entire town of Boulder, Co. spoke up and denied producers the right to film it in their town. That didn’t deter CBS; they just moved the set to Utah.
Perhaps giving the movie to Showtime was just a publicity move. Showtime had no reservations about getting the special passed their way. For a network overshadowed in recent years by the success of HBO, all of the controversy will only bring more viewers and more attention to the network. But don’t worry, if the show does well, Moonves can still reap some of the benefits since both CBS and Showtime share the same parent company in Viacom.
With an election coming up, the Republican Party doesn’t need any more attention drawn to its failures.
Although the movie is said to focus on the Reagan family rather than on the presidency, there are scenes in which Reagan is portrayed as insensitive to AIDS victims and where his wife is depicted as a control freak who oversees much of what went on in the Oval Office. There is no way of verifying that any of this is true, and no one will know what it truly contains until it airs. But a similar depiction of the first family has crept up in Reagan’s authorized biography.
If these are the most degrading scenes in the movie, the Reagans should be grateful the movie did not aim to do actual damage. His family and their supporters want Reagan to be seen as a saint, when in fact he is far from it. If the drama had focused on his presidency instead, greater attention might well have been paid to the economic inequality and federal deficit during his term, matters that affected all Americans. The family couldn’t have argued then, these truths are historically documented.
Regardless, the Reagan miniseries is just that – a television show. Of all people, a family with a background in show business should realize this.
Marea Kasten can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.