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5.4.1. Unaired TV Nation Segments and Censorship


This article is from the Michael Moore FAQ, by Edward Champion edchamp@slip.net with numerous contributions by others.

5.4.1. Unaired TV Nation Segments and Censorship

According to Michael Moore, he was censored more on his stint
at FOX than he was at NBC. While some segments have only had
portions of them censored, in some cases, entire segments remained
unaired. This segment of the FAQ brings to light what TV Nation
might have been had it continued at NBC.

Secret Service Seeks Review of Abortion Foe's Unaired TV Interview
By LYNN ELBERAP Television Writer PASADENA, Calif. (AP)

The Secret Service wants to review an unaired TV interview
with an abortion foe who said the assassination of President
Clinton and Supreme Court justices could be justified for the
cause. Roy McMillan, head of the Christian Action Group in
Jackson, Miss., said Monday he was misquoted in a transcript of the
interview he did for the satirical newsmagazine "TV Nation."

He said his remarks involved hypothetical questions and he
doesn't advocate assassinations. The Secret Service wants to
decide for itself, agency spokesman Eric Harnischfeger said from
Washington. "My simple statement was, `I could see the potential
of abortion abolitionists assassinating people,"' McMillan said.
"What I said is a far cry from saying I advocate or endorse this.
Simply understanding the potential exists is not endorsing or
advocating assassination and that is what the report insinuates,"
he said. A written transcript of the interview was released
Saturday by Fox Broadcasting Co. in conjunction with an appearance
by "TV Nation" creator Michael Moore at a meeting of the Television
Critics Association in Pasadena.

When McMillan did the interview several months ago, the show
was airing on NBC. It has since switched to Fox. "We'd like to
review the transcript ourselves and see the context in which the
remarks were made. And that's what we'll try to do," the Secret
Service's Harnischfeger said. According to the transcript,
McMillan was asked: "Do you think it would be justifiable homicide
to execute the president?" "I think he's probably in harm's way by
acknowledging and endorsing the killing. ... It would probably be
to me more justifiable to assassinate the Supreme Court judges," he
said in the transcript.

Moore said NBC pulled the segment from the Dec. 28 show
because there wasn't enough time to drum up advertising for such a
controversial topic so near the holidays. "They did not censor it
for content. In fact, they felt very strongly about the piece" and
planned to air it at another time, he said. An NBC official did
not immediately return a telephone call Monday.

Two days after the segment was pulled, two people were killed
and five wounded in shootings at two family planning clinics in
Brookline, Mass. A New Hampshire beauty school student, John C.
Salvi III, has been charged. McMillan was among 30 people who
signed a petition declaring deadly force was justified in defense
of the unborn. The petition was circulated by Paul Hill, later
convicted in two slayings outside a Pensacola, Fla., clinic.

According to the "TV Nation" transcript, interviewer Louis
Theroux asked McMillan if it would be OK to "slit the throat of an
abortion doctor." "Well, it certainly would not be out of the word
of God," McMillan responded. "How about if you just shot him?"
Theroux asked. "I think you should do it in love, and I think you
should do it to cause instant death," McMillan said. McMillan said
Monday he was interviewed for hours and "many hypothetical and
leading questions" were asked.

"My comment, in response to a leading question, was,
`Certainly it is more merciful to kill a person swiftly and
certainly than drawing it out like an abortionist does -- one limb
at a time.' "I was not advocating killing anyone. I was just
saying anyone who kills, whether its a dove or a deer, should be
merciful," he said."

* * *
An excerpt from the following Marvin Kitman Newsday article sheds
further light on two unaired segments, one of them the
aforementioned abortion piece that never aired on FOX or NBC:

I was a little worried about the new "TV Nation," Michael
Moore's marvelous TV magazine, which returns for a second
season this time on Fox, tomorrow night at 8 pm. My favorite TV
magazine of all time, which last summer started bringing you the
kinds of stories you never see anywhere else, had far less
censorship than one would have thought at NBC. My spies tell me
there were only two stories the network, owned by GE, choked on.

One was scheduled to run on the year-end special. Moore and
his guerrilla band of parajournalists had spent a few days hanging
out with one of the leaders of the anti-abortion movement, some of
whose members believe abortion doctors should be killed. They
made the rounds with him to the abortion clinics where he shouts
down women. It was a very powerful piece.

But NBC felt it was going to lose advertisers because the
piece was (1) about abortion and (2) anti-abortion. Actually, the
piece was anti-killing doctors. What was the balance on the story?
Moore argued, "Is the other side of the issue arguing to let them
kill doctors?"

It got dropped anyway.

The other piece was about condoms. NBC wouldn't let them run
it. Why? Because it would lose affiliates in the South. The
networks always blame the South in TV. What specifically was wrong?
"Well, you used the word 'condom' 30 times," it was explained. Fox
has agreed to air the condom piece. So what am I worried about?

[Note: This segment, "Condoms," can be seen in its entirety
on THE BEST OF TV Nation, tape one. -- Ed]

NBC, to its credit, left Moore and his media maniacs mostly
alone. What's different about Fox is that "the suits" call Moore up
continually. They send memos, suggestions, "give notes." They are
very nervous. Worse, my spies tell me they don't get certain
things, don't see the humor.

One night this summer Moore wanted to do a reenactment show,
featuring one of the first Civil War groups who dress up as
soldiers for the weekend. TV Nation wanted to get about eight of
them to reenact a Civil War battle. Then Moore wanted them to
reenact other things, like the battle of Hiroshima, which is over
in 10 seconds. Or the fall of Saigon, with all the screaming to
get on the helicopters.

Then Moore saw the piece evolving: "And now the 101st Illinois
Regiment will reenact the L.A. riots..." Still wearing their Civil
War outfits, they would sit as the jury for Rodney King, saying
"not guilty." Moore was telling them about all this, and there was
silence on the phone. They didn't get it! "Well, Mike," one of them
finally said, "isn't this kind of a downer?"

Also they won't let Mike do anything that seemed to rag on
NBC. All he wanted to do, opening tomorrow night's first show, was
a Scott O'Grady: Moore coming out of Rockefeller Center on hands
and knees, eating bugs, being rescued by helicopters flying him out
to Fox. "Ah, Mike, we don't want to say anything bad about NBC"
the feeling was. This is an especially sensitive subject since Fox
owner Rupert Murdoch made that deal encouraging NBC to drop it's
participation in the NAACP's licensing lawsuit against Fox. It
would have been the "TV Nation" way to link the two Moore shows.

But why worry? Sometimes I think I'm just a false alarmist.

* * *

Other segments that bit the dust included a profile of a
homophobic family that pickets the funerals of people who die of
AIDS [Note: This segment, entitled "Extra Credit," can be seen in
its entirety on THE BEST OF TV Nation, tape two.] and an insightful
piece showing Bush's $2 million bail out of several Washington
notables from the S & L scandal. Of course, FOX wouldn't want
you hearing about that now, would they?

Some censorship was quite subtle. For example, when Crackers
went to Detroit, the original voiceoever stated that Crackers
"marched in solidarity" with the strikers. But TV Nation was
forced to change it to "meeting with" strikers. In another
Crackers segment, a man claimed that "Nike pays Michael Jordan more
than all of its employers." The word "Nike" was replaced with "One


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