Wednesday, February 08, 2006

CBS Decides What's "News" On the Basis of Viewer's Comfort: Abortion Story Axed

In the middle of an interesting review of ABC's Nightline (post-Ted Koppel) came this bombshell from Mark Joseph:

...I was traveling abroad when the Casey abortion decision was handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. At the time one of the networks in the country I was visiting had an agreement with CBS whereby they would broadcast the first three stories on the CBS Evening News for the benefit of their viewers. Hearing elsewhere that a decision had been handed down, I tuned in to hear the details only to see that on this particular day the broadcast skipped the top story-Casey, and proceeded with stories 2, 3 and 4. Confused, I called the network and asked why story #1 was missing.

To my astonishment the producer said that it was the lunch hour, and since many housewives were home and would be upset by a story about abortion, they had thus decided not to broadcast the story.

"But your job isn't to decide who will be upset by news," I argued back. "It's to report the news." He didn't disagree but stood by their decision...