CBS Priorities: College Basketball Comes First, President Obama Comes Second
Everyone and their uncle was glued to the TV for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, but there were other things going on around the world too. Among them were civil unrest in Libya and a natural disaster in Japan.
President Obama scheduled a press conference on each of the first two days of the tournament to address the nation regarding these issues, but CBS opted not to air them.
On Thursday Obama attempted to assure the country that radiation from Japanese nuclear pants would not reach American soil. CBS summarized the conference with a one-minute report during a break in the action.
On Friday Obama warned the country about possible U.S. military intervention in Libya. CBS ran a split-screen with Obama on top and the Texas-Oakland game on the bottom.
The college basketball crowd may not be concerned with what Obama has to say, but that's not something that should be left up to a television network. CBS's responsibility is to air the news, and a presidential address definitely ranks higher than a basketball game.
The only reason CBS didn't give the Obama top priority is money. The NCAA Tournament is the network's single biggest source of revenue. CBS and partner Turner Sports are in the first year of a 14-year, $10.8 billion contract to air the tournament, and this year's ratings are up 16 percent from last year.
However, I seriously doubt that any self-respecting college basketball fan would have thrown a fit if CBS gave Obama the country's full attention. There were still three other networks showing NCAA games, and there are countless ways to get score updates even if you can't get a live feed.
There may be a lot of money riding on this tournament, but CBS forgot that basketball is just game. Nobody's life is at stake when they step onto the court. No country is at the risk of complete collapse. On the scale of things that an average human being should care about, a college basketball game doesn't even register.
CBS needs to get its priorities in order. Money is only good for so much.
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