NBC and CW fearfully smooching Dubya’s feet?

… and other body parts. An interesting story crept up from the Drudge Report about how NBC and CW turned down ads for a documentary about the fallout from the Dixie Chicks’ dissing of Bush, Shut Up & Sing: see the Dixie Chicks’ coup. As the Alternet article notes, it turns out to be a good publicity move for the film, stirring up yet more controversy and getting more recognition. Also, as the article notes, it provides more fuel to the film’s argument that the media does indeed fearfully frown upon Bush-bashing. As the leaked NBC memo says, the network “Cannot Accept These Spots as They are Disparaging to President Bush.” But is that the whole story?

After all, anything that drips out of Drudge is usually suspect. In a quick turn of face-saving, NBC is now shooting back that they didn’t give a final thumbs-down to the documentary’s ads but only said “Well, maybe we can run it if you change it…” as noted in this AP story. Note that there too, the idea that this bad PR for NBC is good PR for the movie itself and that NBC isn’t denying that it is indeed fearful of appearing to side with a movie that doesn’t present a flattering side of Bush’s fans. Also note from this article that only CBS would air the ads as of Friday while ABC and Fox were still mulling it over.

A Variety article about the ads notes that CW also disputes turning down the spots and that some local ABC stations were already airing the ads.

Could it be that the film company and Harvey Weinstein are manipulating this controversy solely to get more publicity? Sure but it also points out how weak-kneed NBC is, even if it didn’t turn down the ads completely. They’re fearful not just that Bush’s cronnies will bite back through the FCC but that they also don’t want to upset the wingnuts who they think will complain in mass that the network is carrying water for the opposition, much the same way that networks have to self-police over possible “obscenities” that will get them hefty fines. So far, no one’s called a boycott of ABC so what does NBC really have to fear?

Interesting to note also is that in the same Variety story, they note that CNN and NPR wouldn’t take ads for another recent film, a pseudo-doc called Death of A President thanks to the “extreme nature” of the film. The President that the film refers to? Why it’s the same guy who’s disparaged in the Dixie Chicks movie…