The Seattle Post Intelligencer has an article about the strange-bedfellowness of the TV Watch coalition. In it, SpeakSpeak gets chastised (rather gently) for signing on to the group. Here’s what the P.I.’s TV critic Melanie McFarland has to say:
Of course, some people are going to question how a group like SpeakSpeak.org, a blogger site formed to battle right-wing influence over the media, can in good conscience bed down with The Media Institute, which has accepted sizable donations from controversial conservative Richard Mellon Scaife. Or how The Creative Coalition can join hands with Frank Luntz, the GOP pollster known for shaping doublespeak into administation talking points, who conducted TV Watch’s poll alongside Peter D. Hart Research Associates.
And here’s what we have to say (even though we haven’t been officially asked).
First, thanks for the mention. Most media outlets ignored our participation – maybe because they’d never heard of us; maybe because we’re grassroots (i.e., we’re YOU), and that makes us easy to dismiss; or maybe because we’re the pipsqueak kid sister in the coalition family. Who knows? In any case, it’s nice to finally be included, because we feel that our members are a very important part of the coalition. We are, in fact, the Just Folks whose support TV Watch will need in order to be successful.
Second – we were not informed of the other coalition members’ identities until the press was informed of the other coaltion members’ identities. We didn’t know how many there would be, nor their political leanings, nor their hat sizes. And on reflection, I’m really grateful for that. Had I known that SpeakSpeak would ever be included on a list with Grover Norquist, I probably would have said ‘no way.’
And that would have been petty.
Here’s the deal. Coalition members were asked to sign on to the coalition’s three guiding principles:
1) Americans should determine what is seen and heard in their own homes, based on their own personal tastes.
2) The television industry should rate programs, advise viewers about the content they are about to see, as well as promote awareness of the tools and information that allow parents to exercise control at home (v-chip in your television, parental controls on cable and satellite, television ratings, parental involvement).
3) Either we take responsibility for what our children watch or the government will decide what all of us can watch.
What’s not to love? We think those are pretty reasonable. And we think – as we’ve said all along – that this indecency debate is one where true liberals and true conservatives should agree. There is common ground here, boys. The common ground is the icky taste that government control of TV leaves in our mouths, whether you’re a Green Party ‘Deadwood’ fanatic or a Grover Norquist small-government conservative.
McFarland also takes issue with the poll numbers released by TV Watch during its launch:
Even if TV Watch’s view is shared by millions who just want Bozell and his minions to leave their “Desperate Housewives” and “The Shield” well enough alone, the wildly divergent politics involved still makes one question the figures upon which the group is hanging its crusade.
This is not to say the organization’s claim that almost 66 percent of Americans believe that the indecency dispute is actually depriving them of content they want to see is specious. Who isn’t sick of the ruckus? And sure, 91 percent of Americans, when prompted correctly, probably will tell you that, to quote the survey, “the sensitivities of a few should not dictate the choices for everyone else.”
Compare this data to recent numbers released by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The Pew study found that 48 percent of Americans fear undue restrictions on the entertainment industry, versus the 41 percent who consider the industry’s production of harmful content to be the true danger. Even so, 75 percent of respondents favor tighter enforcement of government rules on content airing while kids may be watching, saying they back the anti-decency proposals before Congress – proposals that are in themselves bipartisan efforts.
The implication is that the numbers have been massaged. (As she opines above, the study’s lead pollster is known for “shaping doublespeak into administation talking points.")
I don’t disagree.
Let’s be honest: Polls are bullshit. We all know this. But we all use them, when we can, because they legitimize what we feel in our hearts to be true. This is true for righties and lefties alike. I could cruise through the Starbucks in which I’m currently sitting and, depending on how I phrased the question, prompt 68% of latte drinkers to agree that Brent Bozell is either a red-headed sideshow act or the second coming of Christ.
Polls – they lend credibility, and they don’t. They don’t, and they do. We like them, and we hate them. Depends on the mood, and the fact being “proven.”
That said, it’s nice to finally have one that justifies what you and I believe and leaves Bozell out in the sideshow cold.
Anyhow, rant aside, here’s the point: We all need to come together on this. The coalition needs to focus on only this problem, and on how to fix it. We need to avoid being derailed by the dozens of other issues on which we inevitably disagree – in a most nuclear fashion, no doubt.
The Unfortunate Truth of TV Watch is that its labor and delivery required network seed money. This money will maybe able to do what SpeakSpeak has been trying to do on $5 and $10 donations. But that’s the reality of the situation. It takes money to fight money.
And we’re here now. So put the politics aside and let’s do it.
Acknowledge the common ground – and on everything else, look the other way. Participation in this joining of forces doesn’t necessitate “bedding down” with anyone.
And thank god for that.