Posts Tagged CBS

What Focus on the Family Sold to Super Bowl Fans

Without the build-up and the context of CBS breaking its own ban on “political” messaging, the Focus on the Family ad which ran during the Super Bowl was itself not so remarkable.  The explicit message: Pam Tebow is tough, and decided to carry a pregnancy that could have killed her and the fetus, then gave birth to a Heismann trophy winning college football star she calls “Timmy.”

But look at the Focus website to which viewers were directed.  A discussion with Tebow’s parents and Jim Daly (James Dobson’s replacement at Focus on the Family) ends with Robert Tebow intoning into the camera, “DON’T KILL YOUR BABY.”

Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow, Biblical literalist, wears his beliefs on his face

Shelby Knox

Shelby Knox's Twitter profile

The back story, you learn in the film, is that the Tebows decided to have a fifth child who would become a preacher.  The parents and children named the fetus “Timothy.”  When Pam had a medical contraindication of pregnancy, she did not consider abortion, and says in the film that if she would have died, it would have been “worth it.”

So OK, that was her choice, given that she thinks god would have cared for her 4 live children, because she made such a sacrifice.  This Dark Ages approach to the role of women — as incubators of children before any other social role — is all over the Focus on the Family website.  Sunsara Taylor took it on in a video protesting the ad.

Go a few more clicks into the Focus on the Family site, under unplanned pregnancy, and you get to the “Know Your Options” link which is designed to appear as if it’s an actual source of information on options.  But no, the first paragraph of “Considering Abortion?” is

Abortion is not just a simple medical procedure. For many women, it is a life changing event with significant physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences. Most women who struggle with past abortions say that they wish they had been told all of the facts about abortion and its risks.

Which the site, of course, proceeds to do, repeating the lies that abortion causes breast cancer and that “death” is a complication of legal abortion in the U.S.  No information on the risks of pregnancy are given, for comparison.

There are more fake clinics, i.e. “crisis pregnancy centers” in the United States now, which provide no medical care or correct information to women with unplanned pregnancy – over 4,000 – than there are clinics which provide abortion and birth control.  To understand the damage these “clinics” do, see Crisis of Deception: Fake Clinics Spread Misinformation on the Federal Dime.

This network, which receives federal “abstinence-only” funds, and gobs of private funding, has more sophisticated imaging equipment than many medical offices responsible for women’s health.  They use fetal ultrasound images to convince women to continue pregnancies, whether they came into the facility seeking abortions, or genuinely wanted information on all the options.

Rosemary Candelario, in “Focusing on Families: Behind the Tebow Super Bowl Ad” asks

Is this ad, and its supporting web videos and pages, the Trojan horse of a new, slick, public relations attack on abortion? Coupled with the murder of Dr. George Tiller less than a year ago and increased threats against always (literally) embattled abortion providers, Focus on the Family’s ad could indeed prove quite dangerous.

This whole package of indoctrination, forced motherhood, and disinformation on women’s health is what CBS and Focus on the Family served up to Super Bowl watchers.


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More from the protest at CBS…

Democracy Now! featured some footage from our protest at CBS HQ this past Thursday.

Here’s a few more photos, courtesy Bud Korotzer…

Shelby Knox

Shelby Knox

Sunsara Taylor

Sunsara Taylor

cbs protest crowd shot

cbs protest youth thinking

Engaging in discussion

Carrying petitions

Carrying petitions in

Heading inside

Heading inside



Photos from today at CBS HQ (Christian Brainwashing Superbowl)

Today at CBS Headquarters. The NYPD came and threw us out of the lobby when we tried to deliver almost 200,000 letters protesting the Focus on the Family ad today.

Speaking out

What does CBS mean?

Debra Sweet

Cancel Broadcast Sexism

Christian Bigoted Super Bowl

Christian Broadcast System

And one photo from the San Francisco protest against CBS:

San Francisco

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From CBS to the Prayer Breakfast: Is Tebow the New Poster Boy for Theocracy?

Just got back from our lunch-time protest against CBS! It was very spirited – CBS freaked out and called the police on our relatively small gathering, but 6 of us managed to get in the doors and tried to deliver some of the messages that have been collected demanding the Super Bowl not feature Focus on the Family’s anti-abortion ad. Shelby Knox was there: especially moving was her story about the 14 year old girl living in Lubbock, TX who ends up in a Crisis Pregnancy Center and is lied to, manipulated and told she just has to give birth. Sunsara Taylor was there too, her usual fiery self. Some NYU students as well as others came out; and a few people stopped on the street and joined on the spot.

MEANWHILE, at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning, Obama, Clinton and… you guessed it: Tim Tebow spoke about “civility” and “faith.” Yep, Tebow’s really becoming the go-to poster boy when it comes to anti-women and anti-gay theocratic politics. Truly, Heisman-winning, straight, white, Christian fundamentalist college football players are the real experts on how women and gay people should live their lives. And Obama is still preaching Common Ground.

Little background for those who haven’t connected this seemingly harmless annual event to one of the most theocratic organizations in existence:

The NY Times reported yesterday:

The objections are focused on the sponsor of the breakfast, a secretive evangelical Christian network called The Fellowship, also known as The Family, and accusations that it has ties to legislation in Uganda that calls for the imprisonment and execution of homosexuals.

The piece goes on to quote Jeff Sharlet, author of the excellent book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (Harper Perennial, 2009). I highly recommend it to all those who want to understand better the agenda of this shadowy right-wing group. They not only run the National Prayer Breakfast (that every President is expected to attend), operate the C-Street house that Governor Sanford and other high level right-wing politicians live in while in Washington, DC, but they have members around the world. Including the Ugandan politicians who introduced the “Kill the Gays” legislation.

Protesting against the National Prayer Breakfast

Protesting against the National Prayer Breakfast (NY Times)

Rachel Maddow had a good interview on the subject the other night. I’m glad The Family is finally getting some attention.

But we need to break open some real resistance!

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Why an Anti-Abortion Message at the Super Bowl?

Lots of people are outraged that CBS is allowing Focus on the Family to buy 30 seconds of airtime on the Super Bowl this Sunday to air an anti-abortion message.  It is outrageous that CBS, the mainstream network of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, who would likely have been horrified to see CBS selling religion, is taking the ad.  Is CBS becoming FOX?

Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow with Bible verse on his face worn during football games

From media reports, the ad tells the story of Tim Tebow’s mother, Pam, who, as a Christian missionary in the Philippines in 1987, rejected medical advice to terminate her fifth pregnancy because of a placental abruption caused by medication for a brief illness.   This could have killed her, but she “chose life” and Tim turned out to be a star college football quarterback who wears Bible verses on his face during games.  (I didn’t make this up.)

I’m not saying the Super Bowl is some hallowed institution that should never change.  It’s a quintessential American entertainment event, with all the dangers that implies, projected to the world. Jiggling cheerleaders, beer, car and National Guard commercials combined with the pervasive machismo of the NFL is part of what this country is, and the American media is skilled at promoting all that.

But CBS says “politics” doesn’t have a place at the Super Bowl.  In 2004, tried to buy a Super Bowl ad criticizing George Bush.  No deal then.  Lina Thorne brought together the network’s double standard:

“CBS’s former policy extended even to an ad from the United Church of Christ, which tried to buy airtime for an ad arguing gay people should be welcome in church in 2005. CBS has also turned down ads from PETA and Moveon.

Then, why suddenly is an overtly religious organization with an openly anti-gay, anti-abortion agenda buying into Super Bowl coverage?  What are they gaining with it?  That’s what we should focus on.

I agree with a letter writer to Revolution newspaper who said the “fundamental point” of opposing the ad

should not be “equality” for every view or not allowing athletes to have a political voice.  The point is that what is being put forward with this ad is wrong and is a horror for women all around the world and it’s being run in the U.S., where a woman is beaten by her partner every 15 seconds and three women are killed every day by possessive lovers and abusive husbands. Plain and simple, this ad is a continuation of the oppression and hatred of women that gets played out every minute in this country and throughout the world.  This ad is for all those who support the cold-blooded, calculated murder of abortion doctor George Tiller.  Fuck this ad and anyone who has anything to do with it!  We should drown this ad out with our demand for “Abortion on Demand Without Apology!”

Erin Matson, Vice President for Action of the National Organization for Women tied in the murderous anti-abortion activities of Focus on the Family in Scott Roeder, Focus on the Family and the Super Bowl:wrote

As far as its view on ending abortion rights is concerned, Focus on the Family is almost as extreme as it gets: going beyond legal strategies to endorse, even encourage, its followers to break the law in order to shut down women’s health clinics that offer abortion.

Sunsara Taylor on Youtube today says, “women are not lesser beings, breeders, or objects created for the pleasure of men, we are thinking beings.  The ideas on women from Focus on the Family have no place in our society.”

Sunsara Taylor on Focus on the Family ad on CBS

Dave Zirin, in the NY Daily News today goes into who Focus on the Family is

Focus on the Family’s guru is the infamous and recently retired James Dobson. Dobson is a frightening fellow, choosing the second night of Passover last year to say, “The biggest Holocaust in world history came out of the Supreme Court” with Roe vs. Wade. Dobson’s other pet project, the Family Research Council, has connections to white supremacist organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens. In 1996, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,000 for his mailing list.

Zirin also nailed the contradiction, quoted in Alternet Sunday

“Super Bowl ads are routinely refused because they fall under the heading of ‘advocacy ads.’ (The rules are very clear on this: only beer, cars and the U.S. armed forces — all wrapped in a ribbon of sexism — can be advocated during the Super Bowl.) And yet Focus on the Family gets the ultimate platform to bash abortion rights. The United Church of Christ was rejected for an ad showing the church welcoming a gay couple with open arms. Other ads by PETA and MoveOn were shown the door. But Focus on the Family and its Trojan Horse of right-wing evangelicalism, Tim Tebow, get a pass.”

Focus on the Family says the ad is “an inspiring story of personal courage” of a “woman who risked her life for her baby.”

Abortion was illegal in the Philippines in 1987, meaning that Pam actually had no choice than to carry the fetus to term, unless her doctor argued that the pregnancy could have killed her.  Perhaps the doctors were ready to say that.  Pam’s writings indicate that she had prayed for another child, and would not have considered an abortion.  Her choice, to the extent that she had one.

But Focus on the Family works to make sure that no woman has any choice other than being forced into motherhood in that situation.  William Saletan, The Invisible Dead; The grisly truth about the Super Bowl abortion ad writes on about what that choice often means:

Pam’s story certainly is moving. But as a guide to making abortion decisions, it’s misleading. Doctors are right to worry about continuing pregnancies like hers. Placental abruption has killed thousands of women and fetuses. No doubt some of these women trusted in God and said no to abortion, as she did. But they didn’t end up with Heisman-winning sons. They ended up dead.

Being dead is just the first problem with dying in pregnancy. Another problem is that the fetus you were trying to save dies with you. A third problem is that your existing kids lose their mother. A fourth problem is that if you had aborted the pregnancy, you might have gotten pregnant again and brought a new baby into the world, but now you can’t. And now the Tebows have exposed a fifth problem: You can’t make a TV ad.


The ad implies that one woman’s choice is what every woman should do.  Wrong, but even so, the ad was not purchased by Tim Tebow his mom to give their personal story.  It was purchased, produced and promoted as part of a whole package delivered from a huge organization whose mission is to shape U.S. society as a “Bible-based,” “Christ-centered” society.  Meaning a theocracy.  Their theocracy, with their interpretation of what the Bible says.

And you really won’t have that much to say about it, if they have their way. Abortion will be outlawed in all circumstances.

Read Amanda Marcotte’s humorous and real “Let’s Read 101 Reasons Not to Have an Abortion” today on RH Reality Check.

Come out and protest at CBS Television headquarters Thursday February 4.  Bring your own sign for what “C B S” stands for.

“Christian Broadcasting Syndicate?” “Cancel Sexist Broadcasting”? “Complete B– S–?” Be creative!

World Can’t Wait is holding a protest Thursday February 4
Noon at CBS Headquarters, 52nd Street & 6th Avenue NYC.
Call World Can’t Wait (866) 973-4463 for more info.

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