THE ROBERT W. WHITAKER ARCHIVE

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LOOK AT WHAT WE'RE SCARED OF!!!!!!!!!! | 2002-09-28

My guess is that the idea of a war that would break OPEC has a lot of appeal to the average American. But we won't hear about that because no American would dare tell a pollster that. He's afraid that the pollster will look down on him for it.

The president of CBS many years ago had a serious problem. He had a programming line-up that made his network number one, far ahead of the others. That doesn't sound like a problem, does it? He was making money, lots of it, and every time there are complaints about violence or filth on TV all the Hardened, Practical Men form a Greek Chorus that chants, "Well, it's all about money!"

The problem that the CBS head man had was that his programming was number 1 and it was profitable, but the cocktail circuit was laughing at him. His smash hits were "The Beverley Hillbillies," "Green Acres," "Petticoat Junction" and the like. They were riding high, but the network was getting laughed at by the sophisticates Americans bow and scrape to.

CBS executives vowed that they would not leave on a single country-based ("flyover country," for the elite in New York and the West Coast) show on CBS. They did it. CBS lost its lead, but its brass did not have to be ashamed of its programming before the people who mattered.

No, it's not "all about money." What it's really about is that Americans are terrified of a bunch of cocktail party trash on the East and West Coasts. Now isn't that a hell of an epitaph for a once-great people?