Murphy's Revenge

September 25, 1992

It was all in fun, of course, but Vice President Dan Quayle probably couldn't help wincing during the hour-long tele-bashing endured on Monday night's episode of "Murphy Brown." Mr. Quayle picked a fight with the fictional sitcom heroine last spring when he chided her as a poor role model for choosing to bear a fictional baby even though she was not married to the child's fictional father.

This year's season-opener might well have been titled, "The Cultural Elite Strikes Back." Series creator Diane English managed to weave Mr. Quayle's criticism -- and Murphy's indignant reaction -- into the story so seamlessly that viewers experienced something akin to vertigo trying to distinguish art from life. They were helped by the fact the series' portrayal of Mr. Quayle didn't stray too far from the vice president's accustomed role as the butt of jokes.

The GOP was already backing away from "family values" after polls showed many Americans were turned off by the preachy tone of August's Republican convention. Mr. Quayle's pasting at the hands of Ms. Brown has given them another reason to heed the old admonition never to argue with anyone who buys ink by the barrel -- or happens to be the most popular mom on network TV.

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