The ruckus over the CBS miniseries “The Reagans” raises some disquieting questions.Like the eerily similar controversy surrounding Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of Christ,” most of the critics of the miniseries have lambasted the program without ever having seen it. They simply based their objections on the script or at best on a short sequence shown to a select few. This knee-jerk reaction seems to be a reflection of the strident times in which we live, when snap judgements about everything from patriotism to antisemitism to racism are made — often without any evidence to be them up. CBS is already facing criticism for having “caved” to pressure from right-wing Republicans who complained that the portrait of the former president was blatantly negative. (CBS on Tuesday said it was pulling the show from its primetime schedule Nov. 16 and 18 and would screen it on its sister pay cabler Showtime.) This is not the first time that CBS has run into flack for its programming, having retooled a Hitler miniseries last year before it aired and having ditched a planned reality show inspired by “The Beverly Hillbillies” after protests from the American heartland. A lot of effort goes into developing shows for the networks, and indeed the creators of product should be allowed to freely express their vision. Still, might it be that not enough oversight is being exercised when it comes to quality control of the finished product? We’re certainly not calling for shows to be watered down, but rather that networks aren’t blindsided needlessly when the goods are delivered.
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