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Author Topic: Alternate Timeline: McNamara's Press Conference does not air on CBS  (Read 546 times)

aaron sica

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CBS was the only one of the "Big Three" networks to interrupt regular programming (in this case, "Password") on July 11, 1966 to show a press conference from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on the state of the Vietnam War. ABC and NBC did not pre-empt, with viewers finding the premiere of "Newlywed Game" on ABC, and the then-new "Days of Our Lives" on NBC.

As the story goes, those shows ate away at the ratings for "Password"over the next year, and a little over a year later, it aired its last daytime show. If CBS did not pre-empt Password that day............would it have survived on CBS longer than it did?

A few factors could be at play here besides the press conference as well.......I'm interested to hear people's opinions.





« Last Edit: May 21, 2019, 11:54:05 AM by aaron sica »

danderson

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I 'd say that if that doesn't happen, "Days of Our Lives" still eats away at Passwords audience. Besides, the same thing happened to Art Linkletter- "The Doctors"(soap) did the same thing to him. In fact TD began to chew away slowly at him and then CBS gave up by moving him to 4:00.

calliaume

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Quick correction: it was July 11, 1966, not 1967.

Wikipedia notes the press conference didn't actually start until 2:30; McNamara was late.  CBS stuck with the newsmen discussing the issue until 2:30; ABC ran The Newlywed Game.  So you can blame McNamara.  (I will say Wikipedia has no source for this, however.)

CBS had other reasons for airing the press conference.  Earlier in the year, when the choice came of whether to whether to air a Senate hearing about Vietnam or an I Love Lucy rerun, CBS's president Jack Schneider overruled the president of CBS News, Fred Friendly, and went with the Lucy rerun, saying "housewives don't care much about Vietnam."  Friendly (who had previous produced See It Now with Edward R. Murrow) announced his intention to resign in The New York Times, CBS accepted it, and it was a major story in that newspaper for days (which was the news source of record at that time, as it still is).  It's dealt with more thoroughly in Friendly's autobiography, Due to Circumstances Beyond Our Control, excerpts of which can be read here:  https://books.google.com/books?id=BIpHFucuMM8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=fred+friendly+due+to+circumstances+beyond+our+control&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiIvvuR-KziAhUCQawKHbMkC2MQ6AEIKjAA#v=onepage&q=fred%20friendly%20due%20to%20circumstances%20beyond%20our%20control&f=false.

Long story short, CBS brought back Richard Salant as news president and tread carefully on that sort of thing.  (Schneider was not an enemy of the news department, and he and Salant got along very well.)  So CBS wasn't going to skip the news conference.

« Last Edit: May 22, 2019, 04:26:23 PM by calliaume »

danderson

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I've read about that, and wondered why the president of CBS was allowed to overrule the news division president then.

During Watergate, they rotated the coverage, so that the soaps were not preempted as much. My grandmom always picked the channel that *wasn't* carrying Watergate.

aaron sica

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Quick correction: it was July 11, 1966, not 1967.

Thanks! Corrected. And thanks for the story as to why CBS chose NOT to skip the news conference.

RMF

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Assuming that there was no press conference that day (as we've discussed the reasons why CBS was in no position not to air it), I still don't see much of a change, for two separate reasons:

1) During that period, ABC had clawed its way into relevance in good part by intentionally aiming young (before that became the standard approach of all broadcast networks). Based on that, I suspect The Newlywed Game still draws its audience, and that one pre-emption didn't really change anything.

2) Note that Password and To Tell The Truth were, from mid-1962 onward, the only game shows CBS aired in daytime- given that they were withdrawing from the genre in primetime at the same time and that To Tell The Truth only had a year left, I wonder how much institutional support was present.

Bryce L.

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Note that Password and To Tell The Truth were, from mid-1962 onward, the only game shows CBS aired in daytime- given that they were withdrawing from the genre in primetime at the same time and that To Tell The Truth only had a year left, I wonder how much institutional support was present.
Probably very little to none, given that was when Fred Silverman was at the helm, I believe.

RMF

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Note that Password and To Tell The Truth were, from mid-1962 onward, the only game shows CBS aired in daytime- given that they were withdrawing from the genre in primetime at the same time and that To Tell The Truth only had a year left, I wonder how much institutional support was present.
Probably very little to none, given that was when Fred Silverman was at the helm, I believe.

True that Silverman was in charge of daytime programming- the item I'm pondering, however, is how many of his actions at that point of his career were fully through his independent initiative, and how many were reflecting the goals of higher management.