Variety editorial

Can CBS recover from its sudden attack of passivity?

We’re referring to the controversy surrounding the decision of the Augusta National Golf Club not to lift its exclusionary policies toward women. CBS has telecast the Masters for decades, thus burnishing its reputation and that of the club.

A former president of CBS, Tom Wyman, has now withdrawn from the club, suggesting “there are obviously some red-neck, old-boy types down there.”

But the network itself has apparently been mute. Its only comment has been to announce it will broadcast the tournament commerical-free — not out of any sense of civic duty, but in the hopes of shielding sponsors from the controversy.

CBS will feel increasing heat from picketers from now until April. As the linchpin in the event’s popularity, the network should simply refuse to air a single putt until the membership policy is updated from its Paleozoic origins.

It was just five years ago that CBS enjoyed a ratings windfall as Tiger Woods left his record-smashing mark on the culture. Had past generations not taken a stand on racial inequality, though, Woods would have been no more than a caddy on that fateful day. Why should the attitude be any different toward women?

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