Where Was 'Fairness' at the Emmys?

CAL THOMAS

September 08, 1992|By CAL THOMAS

What it cost Fox Television to produce last Sunday's Emmy Award broadcast should be counted against Federal Election Commission spending limits for the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign.

In addition to bashing President Bush and their favorite target, Vice President Dan Quayle, the Hollywood elite even got in some retroactive bashing of former President Ronald Reagan, whom they hate because his ratings were higher than theirs.

By far the most ludicrous line came backstage from Candice Bergen (aka Murphy Brown). It will be recalled that Vice President Quayle was ridiculed by some last spring for saying that the network comedy glorified out-of-wedlock motherhood by showing Ms. Brown happily giving birth to a child whose father was not her husband.

After receiving one of two Emmys for her show, Ms. Bergen reacted to the criticism from Mr. Quayle and other conservatives: ''Those were the same people who not only took jabs at me and mine, but the entire (Hollywood) community. So fair is fair.''

Fair? When did the Hollywood ''community'' start practicing fairness? The number of Republican conservatives allowed into this community could meet in a phone booth.

Nightly and daily, on television and in movies, the Hollywood community dumps the cultural equivalent of tons of raw sewage into the minds of millions of Americans. And when one political figure dares to criticize Hollywood's product, he is treated as a threat. Actually, Hollywood is the threat -- it has been mugging decency for two decades.

The Emmys were only a warm-up. ''Murphy Brown'' intends to devote its fall opener to the vice president's criticism.

I have obtained a copy of the script of the season premiere, scheduled to air Sept. 21. A cover letter on Warner Bros. stationery and signed by executive producers Steven Peterman and Gary Dontzig says, ''Dear Reader: We implore you to keep the contents of this script strictly confidential. If any of this material finds its way to the press, "Murphy Brown" will not get the ratings it deserves.'' Wouldn't that be a pity?

There are supposed to be several versions of the script, and the copy I received may not be identical to the final version broadcast, but it offers a preview of coming attractions.

As the scene opens, Murphy is playing with her new baby. Frank, her friend and co-worker, offers to watch the child while Murphy takes a shower. He doesn't mind. He is politically correct: ''I'll just sit here and watch the news. Katie Couric filled in for Tom Brokaw last night and I'm hoping for two in a row.''

On comes a report of Vice President Quayle's remarks in which he criticized ''Murphy Brown.'' Included is a sound bite of Mr. Quayle's speech. Frank and Murphy are shocked. Murphy complains that she ''agonized'' over her decision to have the baby (but not apparently to have sex with the child's father).

Frank then delivers this nifty little editorial: ''Murph, I don't blame you for being angry, but consider the source. This is the man who gave a speech to the United Negro College Fund and said, 'What a waste it is to lose one's mind.' Then he spent the rest of his term showing the country exactly what he meant. Tomorrow he'll probably get his head stuck in his golf bag and you'll be old news.''

Murphy then goes to take a shower, but the producers aren't finished. She later does her own editorial on her show, ''FYI.''

Murphy interviews ''a dozen or so single parents (some perhaps with children),'' notes the script. ''They work, they struggle, they hope to give their children the kind of life we all want for our children. And these are the people we should be paying attention to,'' intones Murphy.

This show should receive an Emmy for distortion. According to the producers of ''Murphy Brown,'' it seems single parents have more to teach us than two-parent families. Maybe in Hollywood, but not in real life. The fact is -- economically, emotionally and in every other way -- it is better for a child to have a mother and father in the home and for that child to be born into a stable family.

But then Hollywood never did get it. As writer Ben Stein has noted, ''The super-medium of television is spewing out the messages of a few writers and producers (literally in the low hundreds), almost all of whom live in Los Angeles. Television is not necessarily a mirror of anything besides what those few people think. The whole entertainment component of television is dominated by men and women who have a unified, idiosyncratic view of life. When a viewer understands that television is not supposed to be a facsimile of life but instead is what a Hollywood producer thinks life is, the viewer can then understand the match or mismatch between television and what he knows to be true.''

''Murphy Brown'' won two Emmys. But those who watch this stuff and believe its message are the losers.

Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist.

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