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Aug 07th
Home Columns Unsolicited Advice The “Desperate Housewives” Brouhaha Has Similarity to the 1992 “Murphy Brown” Ruckus of VP Quayle
The “Desperate Housewives” Brouhaha Has Similarity to the 1992 “Murphy Brown” Ruckus of VP Quayle PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Unsolicited Advice
Saturday, 13 October 2007 15:57

Los Angeles, California-based venerable Filipino-American historian, Hector Santos, sent in these remarks: "Remember this (brouhaha) from 15 years ago? (Then Vice President) Dan Quayle provided material for lot of comedians for a while after he made that May 19, 1992, speech. I hope our class-action Filipino lawyers fare better as they seek damages for the material loss (if any) suffered by the countless doctors and (Philippine medical) schools because of what a fictional TV character said."

Ka Hector adds that he doesn’t think any of the Filipino lawyers knows anything about class action and how difficult it is to obtain class-action status. He says that there is no such thing as class action for defamation in the first place.

Here is what Mr. Santos referred to: The TIME Magazine issue of Monday, Jun. 01, 1992:


Dan Quayle vs. Murphy Brown

IF FOR NOTHING ELSE, DAN QUAYLE DESERVES POINTS for audacity. In modern America taking on a popular TV character, even a fictional one, is politically more precarious than taking a clear stand on a substantive campaign issue. And yet the Vice President dared to argue last week in a San Francisco speech that the Los Angeles riots were caused in part by a "poverty of values" that included the acceptance of unwed motherhood, as celebrated in popular culture by the CBS comedy series Murphy Brown. The title character, a divorced news anchorwoman, got pregnant and chose to have the baby, a boy, who was delivered on last Monday's episode, watched by 38 million Americans. "It doesn't help matters," Quayle complained, when Brown, "a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid professional woman" is portrayed as "mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another 'life-style choice.' "

Quayle, aides explained, meant to "stir a debate" over "family values" and Hollywood's treatment of them. And so he did. A New York Daily News headline set the tone: QUAYLE TO MURPHY BROWN: YOU TRAMP! Switchboards at the White House and on TV and radio talk shows lit up with callers, pro and con. Carl Rowan, a liberal black columnist, sided with Quayle, while Hillary Clinton, wife of the Democratic presidential contender, panned him as typical of "an Administration out of touch with America" and its growing ranks of single mothers.

Other critics suspected that the Vice President's remarks fit into a calculated strategy to suggest that L.A.'s rioters, who were mostly black and Hispanic, have in common with feminists and other Democrats a shoddier moral standard than nice people (who therefore should vote Republican). But Quayle denied any such intention, and the subsequent flip-flopping by the White House looked anything but calculated. Press secretary Marlin Fitzwater at first criticized Murphy Brown for "the glorification of life as an unwed mother," then later told reporters that the TV character was "demonstrating pro-life values which we think are good." That in turn brought an angry denial from Quayle, who, in some backpedaling of his own, insisted that he had "the greatest respect" for single mothers.

President Bush, who can read a Nielsen rating as well as an opinion poll, declined to criticize "a very popular television show." He praised Quayle's speech in a private call to the Vice President, but failed to adopt the message as his own. Throughout the improbable spectacle of a White House pitted against a sitcom character and her real-life defenders, there was a serious undercurrent. The growth in fatherless families, after all, is encouraged less by television than by welfare policies that punish poor mothers who marry -- policies that Bush and Quayle should change if they are serious about this subject. UNQUOTE.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 14 October 2007 12:01

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