In Egypt a Dictator Censors Politics; In the US a Corporation Censors … Football

To be fair, it was not a highly lucrative football game CBS censored. Rather, it was an ad put out by the players’ union opposing the lockout the owners are threatening. I guess anything from a labor union — even a labor union representing a bunch of highly paid celebrities — may count as taboo politics to a big corporation.

Moreover, CBS and other football networks have basically agreed to pay the league billions whether or not a single game is played; the networks are basically paying the owners to break the union.

CBS is one of four networks that pay the NFL $4 billion a year to televise the league’s games. CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN, as well as DirecTV, all agreed to pay the NFL in 2011 even if a lockout disrupts or cancels the season — a relationship that the NFLPA finds a little too cozy. In fact, the union filed suit against the league claiming the TV deals provide the owners with guaranteed payment even when no games are played, effectively purchasing “lockout insurance.”

A ruling could come as soon as this week. Mr. Atallah said CBS’s decision to pull the ad “is clearly indicative of the relationships the networks have with the league.”

Either they’re just so afraid of losing the contract or they’re willing to forgo a season for two extra games pitting badly injured players trying to stay in the game.

But whatever it is, it’s censorship. And at a time when our government is lecturing dictators in other countries about censorship, you’d think they’d be a bit bothered by corporations using our own public airwaves.

For more on this labor fight, see Lockout Central.

A Rather Sad Ending For Dan

The New York Court of Appeals today issued its decision denying Dan Rather’s appeal from the dismissal of his civil case. In light of the fact his case was pled and litigated under New York state law in state courts, this is, sadly, likely the last act in the play.

Dan Rather’s personal statement on the decision:

Naturally I am disappointed in today’s ruling because we know it is a grave miscarriage of justice.

Most of all I am disappointed that no court or jury studied the evidence and heard the actual facts of the case. The case was dismissed on purely technical grounds.

My mission continues to be working to ensure that the media can gather and report news unfettered by the influence of government and major corporate interests.

Dan Rather

This stems from a decision by the New York Appellate Division last September, specifically September 29, 2009. It was a horrible decision on a number of grounds, a copy attached here, but it was decided 5-0 by the Appellate Division which made the odds of the Court of Appeals granting the request to appeal slim.

Under New York state law and procedure, you need permission to appeal to the Court of Appeals from a unanimous Appellate Division decision. Either the Appellate Division has to give permission or Court of Appeals has to give permission; but there was no appeal as of a matter of right for Dan, and the Court of Appeals refused his request.

The decision last September by the Appellate Division was horrid and truly questionable legally, at least in my opinion, notably in the way it cut off the very discovery that could, and would, have provided the basis to overcome the deficiencies the court focused on. In essence, the appellate court prevented Rather from demonstrating his case, and then dismissed it because he had not demonstrated his case. Irrespective of that, however, the decision stands and Dan Rather appears unjustifiably done. Courage Dan!