A Slap in the Face

by Senator Hal Rodgers

Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers has joined two other members of Congress in asking CBS Television to drop the proposed “Real Beverly Hillbillies.”

Rep. Rogers, a Republican representing rural eastern and southern Kentucky, sent a letter to CBS President Leslie Moonves asking him to drop the show, which is not yet scheduled for broadcast.

“As a lifelong resident of Appalachian Kentucky I am appalled by the very idea of this program, which seeks to humiliate and exploit rural Americans,” Rep. Rogers wrote.

Rep. Rogers said media stereotypes and negative depictions will hamper economic and social development efforts in his district. "Despite the progress we have made, many people, including you, continue to believe the long-since outdated and erroneous stereotype that Appalachians are lazy, uneducated, barefooted hicks," Rogers wrote. “This show is a slap in the face to all that we have accomplished [in the Fifth District] and threatens the positive progress and momentum that have taken years to create.”

Rep. Rogers said CBS is shirking its public responsibility by considering a show such as “The Real Beverly Hillbillies.” “Your attempt to earn cheap laughs and big bucks at the expense of rural Americans is an abuse of the public airwaves on which you broadcast.”

Broadcasters are licensed and regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, which requires stations to serve the public good.

Rogers is the third member of Congress to go on record against the proposed CBS program. Georgia Senator Zell Miller gave a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate asking Moonves to drop plans for the program. Ohio’s Representative Ted Strickland says he opposes the program and plans to write a letter to Moonves.

CBS is owned by Viacom, a publicly traded media conglomerate that also holds such companies as MTV, VH-1, Paramount, Nickelodeon, Showtime, CMT, Blockbuster video, Simon & Schuster, a chain of amusements parks, and other properties.