Few Americans know that up to the year 2000, there was a discrete government effort to propagate anti-drug messages into network television programming. Congress created this enormous fiscal incentive (over $ 25 million) for TV programmers to push anti-drug messages in their plots.
“ER,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Chicago Hope,” “The Drew Carey Show” and “7th Heaven” — all filled their episodes with anti-drug pitches to cash in on this government subsidy. Daniel Forbes wrote a series of in-depth articles on the subject for Salon.com. Keeping this in mind, and watching today’s prime time television, one must wonder if there is a similar stealth attempt at setting the political and social agenda in the United-States media.
Today “Law and Order” shows dominate the airwaves, a distinct right-wing slant permeates some of these shows. The relationship with politics and prime-time television is so intertwined that no-one winces at the idea of retired Senator Fred Dalton Thompson interweaving his political views within Dick Wolfe’s productions.
This begs the question, how far, how pernicious is the relationship between this Administration and Prime-Time entertainement ?
If Drew Carey got money for promoting anti-drug messages, Why not suspect Jay Leno or SNL with getting help with other agendas ? Fact is, there probably is no incentive of this type in regards with France-Bashing, Euro-Bashing or Pacifist-Bashing. The relationship between the Bush Administration and the media is much more complex.
However, as illustrated on October 13th, the White House believes it is sometimes necessary to bypass the Large Media Outlets to promote its views on the Iraq situation. By delivering his message through “local outlets”, the White House revealed that is was displeased with the lack of cooperation from a previously docile media.
Incentives don’t always have to be monetary, they can also have to do with the legislative agenda, potential changes to FCC rules, or just access to news and news makers.
How can this Gordian Knot of power, politics and media be untangled ? Simple : properly fund public television and radio.
Marc Saint-Aubin du Cormier