CBS television has had a bad year. Dan Rather was snookered into broadcasting a story about a fake document and the network was fined $550,000 for baring an intimate part of Janet Jackson during the Super Bowl half time. Rather will survive, though tarnished, and a half million dollars is chicken feed for a corporate giant. But what do these moments in our recent history reveal about our national moral corruption?
Dan Rather made a bad call on a document he did not verify. Janet Jackson’s slight striptease does not even remotely approach the obscenity of television reality programs, which do not draw fines but which are eagerly copied by rival networks. This fall, as just one example, HBO will offer Family Bonds, a new series for Sunday night viewing.