Focus on the Fuckery: CBS Aborts Good Judgment

CBS Aborts The SuperbowlWhile overwhelmed by last week’s response to my views on Proposition 8, I didn’t go wallow in the warm bath of blog traffic nor did I get shitfaced and hole-up in Vegas with a truckload of hookers and blow. Instead?

I began listening to another story: during this year’s Super Bowl, CBS will air an anti-abortion commercial sponsored by Focus on the Family. Dubbed as “family-friendly,” the gem will star Tim Tebow, Heisman Trophy winner and evangelical Christian, along with his mom. The angle? Had she followed doctor advice and had an abortion, her precious Tim wouldn’t grace the football fields of today. (Note: if you don’t know the story, Tebow’s mother contracted amoebic dysentery living in the Philippines and the medication threatened the well being of the fetus. Hence, the advice to terminate the pregnancy.)


Rip the needle off the record and insert a hearty WHAT THE DEUCE?!

Question number one: is there any man reading this blog who will be watching the Super Bowl for its “family-friendly” content AND wants to talk about abortion on the holiest day of the year in sports?

Answer: Well, it sure as shit isn’t Gregg Doyel of “If you’re a sports fan, and I am, that’s the holiest day of the year. It’s not a day to discuss abortion. For it, or against it, I don’t care what you are. On Super Bowl Sunday, I don’t care what I am. Feb. 7 is simply not the day to have that discussion.”

Question number 2: if we’re going to see an anti-abortion ad, where’s the pro-choice ad?

Answer: We’ll never see it. Especially since CBS squelched a Super Bowl ad by the United Church of Christ in 2004 that extended a welcome to gays and others shunned by popular Christian faith.

The entire #tcot thread and conservative media realm is using word-spin and alchemy to say that those who advocate choice and are against this ad are “offended that Tim Tebow is alive.”


That’s like saying that lessons taught to kids over the decades by a big yellow bird and talking frog are invalid regardless of content because the characters are puppets (ok, Muppets).

But hey – Focus on the Family is an extremist and conservative collective dedicated to a strict interpretation of the Bible. Do I expect rational, free-thinking thought? No. So your expectation that I’ll go off on Focus on the Family this week won’t be met, as I feel they’ve got a right to believe what they will and promote such.

I am not anti-Christian. I am not anti-conservative thought. I am not anti-penguins in purple tutus dancing around with AK-47s singing In a Godda Da Vida…until they point one of those guns at me or those I love.

I am firmly against, however, the telling of only one side of a story. That’s a penguin aiming an AK-47 at me.

On a complete side note, I don’t post without having done my research. It’s no secret that I’m of the spiritual-not-religious bent and find faith and support in my friends, family and a great daily feeling that I’m in sync with the universe. But I did pop over to the Focus on the Family website to do some reading. Nice site design, easy to navigate (what do you expect from me? I’m a web geek!)…and I located their resources on Marriage and Sex. I’ll go ahead and concede the fact I’m (apparently) going to hell:

We May Never Use Another Person as an Object, Sexual or Otherwise

The members of the Trinity never relate to each other as objects, to be used for their own good. They relate to each other in love, seeking to serve the goodness and glory of the other. Love is a self-donation. It never uses others as things or an end.

When we use others, we diminish their dignity as well as our own. Animals do this. People shouldn’t, because it’s not what we were created for. It’s not what sex was created for. This is why pornography, masturbation, and rape fall outside of God’s intentions for us.

The only intention I have to answer to is the one I have built for my own life and the one that serves my friends, family and loved ones. I masturbate (regularly). I look at porn with complete fascination and personally adore the little porn flick that runs through my head every now and again. But I do agree – rape is The Suck. And it prompts me to ask: If rape is outside of God’s intention, is it God’s intention for women who become pregnant through rape to have no recourse? Another question for another time.

(By the way: I also fail to grasp Tebow’s whole “saving himself for marriage” angle. If you look at marriage as a nice meal, I’m not going to save myself for a nice meal at a restaurant where the most the head chef has ever cooked is Kraft Mac & Cheese. He practices for football. For the love of all that’s holy, man – practice for your future wife!)

But I digress…

Understanding that Focus on the Family runs a conservative, non-progressive Christian agenda means you have to accept their platform for exactly that. No more, no less. Do I like it? Heavens to Betsy, I do not. Brian Sabean, General Manager of the New York Giants, had his own quip about Tebow’s antics. But the bigger issue this upcoming Super Bowl Sunday is this:

Should CBS be airing a politically charged, divisive ad on the holiest of sports days?

And to continue, I’ll ask the following.

Would CBS run:

  • A pro-choice ad (because having the right to choose is immoral)

  • A pro-gay marriage ad (because homosexuals are immoral)

  • An anti-persons with disabilities ad? (because those goddamn ramps and automatic doors really piss people off and raise development expenses)

It’s difficult to say in the current economy. If an advocacy group for one of the above ponied-up the $2.5 million going rate for a Super Bowl ad spot this year, who’s to say that CBS wouldn’t take the dough? ABC News offers a particularly interesting take:

“CBS is doing this for the money,” said Alex Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein School of Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. “It will indicate that a policy has changed. The networks have traditionally not put these kinds of ads on during the Super Bowl. This has been an area that has been kept relatively squeaky-clean of highly polarizing politics. There is no way to be putting in an anti-abortion ad without prompting the pro-abortion side of the debate to get their message across. This may be a new profit center.”

Money talks, discretion walks – that’s nothing new when it comes to advertising dollars in high-profile arenas like the Super Bowl. Erin Kotecki Vest (@QueenofSpain), former broadcast journalist, Huffington Post contributor and Director of Special Project for BlogHer weighs in:

“Screw Focus on the Family. Despite what CBS should or shouldn’t do, money talks. I say we talk with OUR money when that ad airs during the Super Bowl. Donate to Planned Parenthood when you see Tebow’s crybaby face on your TV come February 7th.”

We’ll circle back to Erin’s damn-skippy idea in a moment. But for now, the issue of broadcast integrity:

During Presidential races, networks air ads representing all walks of political thought. News broadcasts report the goings-on in particular campaigns. Commentary programs delve deeper into the issues, hosting guests who can speak intelligently and offer their viewpoints and investigate beyond the facts. What I find to be so curious is how CBS has voluntarily put their network’s ass in a sling by opting to take $2.5 million in hush money to let this anti-abortion ad run during what is possibly the highest annual viewership instance with a projected 100 million viewers. Focus on the Family is simply befuddled about all the hubbub surrounding their ad:

“There is nothing political or controversial about the spot. It’s a personal story about the love between a mother and son.” ~ Gary Schneeberger, spokesperson for FOF

Hey Gary and CBS advertising execs – here are some thoughts to chew on:

  1. On Super Bowl Sunday, I want to watch funny commercials and a fucking football game.

  2. Correction: my boyfriend wants to watch funny commercials and a fucking football game while I cook up something delightful in the kitchen and run in when a funny commercial airs.

  3. Some dudes spend the entire year planning their Super Bowl party – do you really think they want to hear about abortion between downs and dips in the chili con queso?

  4. There is NO ONE who tunes into the Super Bowl to hear “a story about love between a mother and a son.” They tune in to watch football, for the ritual, hang with friends, drink a shitload of beer and fart in a room so full of people that no one notices.

I’m disappointed simply in the poor marketing decision made by FOTF and the equally polarizing decision made by CBS. At $2.5 million a pop for Super Bowl ad time, wouldn’t their ad met with less resistance, more acceptance and reach a more tractable audience had they chosen a prime time network show with an agreeable viewing demographic? If you’re looking to drive brand or message affinity, why do it in a way that you’re going to piss off the most people possible during an event meant to unite, not divide? And CBS – you’ve finally come out of your discretionary shell, pimping one side of the God ride on this one. If I were another advertiser on this year’s Super Bowl Sunday, I’d be pissed. No one’s even going to watch my ad. They’re going to be waiting for the God Bomb. If I were Anheuser Busch, I’d be digging through my advertising agreement and telling CBS to get fucked in a very out-of-wedlock way.

I sought-out the thoughts of a marketing and public relations pro to see if I happened to be behind the door they handed out the “good glue” in marketing school. Shelly Kramer of V3 Integrated Marketing out of Kansas City offered both personal and professional thoughts on the matter:

“The Superbowl is an All-American pastime. As such, can’t we manage to leave things like politics, religion AND things like abortion out of it altogether? I am confident when I say that if it were a pro-abortion ad, it wouldn’t even be considered. But it shouldn’t be about what you believe or about what I believe, any more than it should be about whether I believe in gay-rights and you don’t. What it should be about is the appropriateness of the forum. And for a major network to align themselves with this kind of message and air it in this kind of forum, is, to me, a dangerous strategic move. The backlash could be significant. If I were on their marketing or PR teams, I would be advising strongly against it. In fact, if I were a member of their legal team, I would be equally vehement about its inappropriateness.

It’s the Superbowl, for pete’s sake. Let’s leave it about sports – as it should be – and let the other issues remain out of it. Where they belong.”

As a marketing professional, writer and free-thinking woman, I want to hump Shelly’s leg. But let’s get to the bottom line already, shall we?

Do I care if Tim Tebow’s mom had an abortion or not? NO.

Do I care if he’s a kickass football player? NO.

Am I “offended” by the ad (seen or unseen)? A preemptive NO.

Does Tim Tebow’s presence in this world make my life better? NO.

Am I disappointed by the choice of a network to interrupt my upcoming Sunday filled with more junk food and camaraderie than you can shake a stick at by dropping the abortion elephant in the middle of my fucking living room? YES.

The elephant is going to eat all of my cocktail peanuts and that pisses me off.

It’s a Focus on Fuckery. I’m not surprised that money talks or that CBS has conveniently broadened their horizons with regards to “inoffensive” advertising content. Who knows how long the talks have been in the works on this particular ad – as the others they’ve recently aired on health care may have simply been laying the groundwork for the current high-profile debacle. I’m downright pissed that this huge, uninvited elephant is going to sit amongst MY family and friends on February 7th. Focus on the Family? How about focus on your own damned family, CBS: your viewers, advertisers and those who are tuning in to celebrate the holy trinity of football, beer and funny commercials.

End Note: As a tie-in with last week’s discussion on “family,” Cara Ellison Halbirt (mother of 2, blogger, jewelry designer) has this to say about the stink: “Focus on the “Family?” I hate that we can only focus on one model of family as ‘right’. Families don’t fit so neatly into boxes. Why can’t we view love/families/people through a kaleidoscope? Lots of colors, angles and choices. Not one single model can be forced to accommodate everyone. ‘Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life’ is a wonderful concept practiced by all kinds of families in all kinds of ways. It’s a shame to saddle it with a single, rigid view of family.”


  1. Dear Redhead

    Jason – WOW. Go anti-choice movement. Would love to see your reaction to a pro-choice ad having aired in that hot air-filled Tebow ad (which was nothing more than a bait-and-switch on the part of both CBS and FOTF). You’re entitled to your opinion about abortion when you grow a vagina and stop using the “I have a friend who…” argument. But in any case, thanks for stopping by and giving my little column a read.

    And for the record, Bill didn’t say anything about anything being “hateful.” He indicated that FOTF is pulling a fast one on Biblical interpretation with their “Internet Guide to ‘Christian’ Living for Dummies – click here” approach. I’ve always found it staggering that professed “Christians” turn to hateful tactics by targeted groups with whom they do not agree and try to force their beliefs on them and judge them based on a set of beliefs to which the others don’t subscribe. That’s like me – blissfully spiritual but not religious – hating a Muslim for crossing in front of me on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Sure, he got in my way, but I don’t hate him for making the journey, for where he’s going or why.

  2. Jason

    Bill, what’s hateful about wanting to protect human beings from the moment of conception?

    Piper, I don’t know how many women are dead because they choose to have a child. I know that nearly 50 million abortions have been performed since 1973 in the USA. However the rate is declining.

    Red, I have a friend who had a child from rape, she loves her son, doesn’t care much for the father. She’s married now and quite happy.

    Choice is a misnomer. We have many choices in life but the law acts to prevent us from making choices that negatively affect other people. Saying that abortion is a valid choice for an unwanted pregnancy is not that dissimilar to saying that poison is the solution to an unwanted marriage.

    Abortion should exist as a medical procedure where the life of the mother is endangered. That’s not a large percent of actual abortions though, I’ve heard figures as low as 2% of the total are for that reason.

    For the placement of the advertisement? That’s the company’s choice. A choice it must be said that doesn’t involve anyone dying, just a few minutes of discomfort.

  3. Awesome and well said. One comment I do completely disagree with though:
    “Focus on the Family is an extremist and conservative collective dedicated to a strict interpretation of the Bible.”

    Uh, not so much. I’m with you on extremist, but they are not pushing a strict interpretation of the Bible, they are pushing THEIR interpretation of the Bible. Big difference. The Bible is about laws and ethics. Quoting the bumper sticker, hate is not a family value, and an organization whose sole purpose is to promote hate should not be thumping the Bible. However, actually reading it might do some of them some good.

  4. I totally agree ~ I watch the Super Bowl for the FUNNY commercals. OK & to laugh at the Hubby & Bro-in-law act like they really care who wins the Big Game when neither one of their teams are even in it this year!!

    How about CBS being hypocrits……did you know they refused a Gay on-line Dating Site’s add b/c it was “too contoversal”, but apparently Anti-Abortion adds have been moved over to the “Heck Yeah, that would be a GREAT add for the Super Bowl” list. Seems to me, being forced to hear about someone else’s view on abortion being shoved down my throat isn’t as much fun as watching an add where two guys are fighting over football, reach into the chip bowl at the same time & end up swapping spit. I’m interested to see if they run the Kayak add where the two co-workers are swapping spit more heavily than the two guys are will be shown during the Super Bowl…..

  5. Michele

    I have to say, if I were a contributing member of FOTF I’d be mightily pissed they spent so much money on a commercial, instead of on helping to “equip married couples to live out God’s design and intention for biblical marriage and to help parents raise children who know, love and serve God.” But then again maybe I wouldn’t be – doesn’t that kind of membership require you to check your brains at the door?

  6. Glad I stopped by to read this from Shelly’s post. Aside from the obvious lunacy on behalf of CBS to air the commercial I enjoyed reading your post and a lot of areas totally had me cracking up.

  7. Dear Redhead

    @Christina – I’m not offended by anything. I’m disappointed in the marketing decisions. I do wish the “choice” side of the issue discussed in more broad detail ALL of the choices. Unfortunately, the extreme choices on either side of the spectrum receive the most racket, no? And I don’t think I eve said anything derogatory about Mrs. Tebow’s CHOICE. I’m dissing a network and a major for-profit organization for what I consider a faulty path in marketing expenditures. And I still don’t want it in my living room. ‘Nuf said.

    @MariKurisato – thanks for stopping by – I always enjoy you in my neck of the woods!

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