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November 5, 2003
Barbra Streisand Decries Right-Wing "Censorship"

As expected, Barbra Streisand leaps to the defense of her husband and his movie:

I am deeply disappointed that CBS, the network that in 1964 gave me complete artistic control in creating television specials, now caved in to right wing Republican pressure to cancel the network broadcast of the movie The Reagans. (And I say MOVIE - because this is NOT a documentary - it's a television drama.)

She has a point -- this is a movie, after all, not like Michael Moore's supposed documentaries, although I doubt she'd hesitate to defend his intellectually dishonest works. All crying aside, the movie will still be broadcast, just on a different Viacom outlet. However, this part of her argument made my eyes roll back into my head:

I don't believe Democrats often, if ever, try to muscle the First Amendment like this.

Let's see ... it wasn't more than a few years ago that a number of Streisand's very Democratic friends staged the same kind of boycotts and protests to force Laura Schlesinger off of TV before she had even aired a single show. And let's not forget the hundreds of college campuses with "speech codes" that specifically target conservatives. Or accusing people of McCarthyism merely for disagreeing with them in public, like Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon did in the run-up to the war, even more despicably after their leadership in the Schlesinger boycott. The Hollywood liberal code seems to be "Free Speech for Me but Not For Thee".

Due to their experience with the restrictive English government, the framers of our constitution specifically included a ban on prior restraint in the First Amendment, which is an attempt to stop information from getting out there before the public has a chance to see it at all - exactly what is going on in this case.

In case Ms. Streisand missed this in Civics class, the "prior restraint" restriction applies to the government, not to private enterprise. Prior restraint doesn't apply here anyway; the movie wasn't stopped from being made, nor even stopped from being shown. The producers could well have decided to release it in theaters, or straight to video, although they would have lost money doing so. She acknowledges this in the very next sentence:

Of course, CBS as a company has the legal right to make decisions about what they do and do not air. However, these important decisions should be based on artistic integrity rather than an attempt to appease a small group of vocal dissidents.

The decision, as Streisand well knows, is based on business. CBS is a business, and they have to answer to stockholders, who are not going to be pleased if they drive off hundreds of thousands of viewers, especially older viewers, which is their main demographic. And one would hope that artistic integrity implies a commitment to the truth; from the script, it is obvious that the movie had no such commitment. Instead of being artists, the producers were whores to their own political biases, and CBS declined to act as a pimp.

UPDATE: Power Line weighs in on this as well.

UPDATE II: Thanks to Big Trunk for linking back to my post, and welcome to all Power Line readers!

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 5, 2003 6:35 AM

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