Thursday, July 27, 2006

T-Mobile Update

Lots of people sent emails and posted comments like the following: "I bet you'd be unhappy if T-Mobile advertised on "The 700 Club."" (No, I wouldn't.) "We should boycott Bill O'Reilly." (No, we shouldn't.) "I'm gld they're boycotting "Rescue Me." I hate that show." (So don't watch it.)

First, T-Mobile didn't just pull ads from "Rescue Me." They pulled ads from the entire FX cable channel. That's an extreme, ridiculous response. And if T-Mobile wants to reach out to far right loonies who like Pat Robertson, frankly I have no problem with that. And if they DIDN'T run ads on Bill O'Reilly -- who has the top-rated cable news program -- they'd have some pretty mad stockholders and rightly so.

Sure there are lots of shows I don't like and people that say things I find offensive, people like Pat Robertson, Sean Hannity and so on. But would I call for boycotts of any advertiser that runs on their shows? No. By and large, I think all types of shows will naturally run on the hundreds of channels out there. Some I like. Some I don't. If I don't like a show, I don't watch it. I certainly don't try and ban a show I don't like so no one else can watch it either. That's a fundamental difference between the far right and most Americans. You don't want your kid to read Harry Potter? Fine, what do I care? But don't try and ban it from my local public library. You don't like "Rescue Me?" Don't watch it. Calling an Emmy nominated that's been hailed by critics and achieved popular success as a racist piece of junk is pretty silly.

Boycotts are a last response to an extreme situation, not the way we should do business in America where the free exchange of ideas is paramount. When someone like Dr. Laura (who misled people about her credentials and became increasingly erratic and vicious) appears, they can reach a tipping point where action is called for. And in her case, all you had to do was read to advertisers the things that she has said on the air and they realized they wanted nothing to do with her. Ann Coulter recently crossed that line into wacko territory. If she had a talk show, her truly fringe behavior would call for concerted action. But those situations are few and far between. Frankly, I don't expect every show on every channel to please or not offend me and it would be a pretty boring world if that were the case.

No comments: