July 9, 2013
Mr. Leslie Moonves
CBS Television Network
Dear Mr. Moonves:
We write regarding the controversy over your current series, “Big Brother,” in which some of the contestants have engaged in racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic and other offensive conduct and language.
Clearly, the line between mirroring or exposing what goes on in the real world and glorifying or promoting hate and hate speech can be murky. Your executive producer, Allison Grodner, was quoted as saying, “it would be irresponsible to put hate on the airwaves just for hate’s sake,” and that “you need to have some sort of context.” We agree. We believe the onus is on your network to provide that context, as well as the consequences, for such offensive behavior.
We welcome CBS’s statement acknowledging that you “find the statements made by several of the Houseguests on the live Internet feed to be offensive,” and distancing your network from those hurtful views. It is our understanding, while several of the Houseguests have suffered real life consequences of their behavior, neither the producer nor the host has confronted any of them during the broadcast. We urge they be publically reprimanded and that you explore whether their conduct justifies CBS terminating them or, at minimum, any financial benefit they are entitled to receive from their participation. Should you decide to retain them, we suggest that you provide a statement accompanying the feed that not only condemns the hate speech, but states that you are broadcasting it so that viewers will see for themselves how ugly and poisonous such prejudice and bigotry are, and will understand the importance of standing up to it.
ADL is celebrating its Centennial this year. We are proud of the contributions we have made to building a more civil, respectful world in which hate is unacceptable. You and CBS have an important voice, and we hope you will continue to send a clear message that prejudice, bigotry and discrimination -- while sadly still present in our society today -- is simply unacceptable.
Abraham H. Foxman