NBC has taken considerable flack for its censorship of Grammy award-winning R&B star Kanye West on "A Concert for Hurricane Relief." Specifically, NBC deleted the following statement from the musician during the West Coast feed: "George Bush doesn't care about black people."
Ironically, by censoring it, NBC only brought more attention to the statement, and the network itself.
Most telethons are paint-by-numbers affairs -- orchestrated and planned methodically. Thus, we understand the organizers' uneasiness. Likewise, we realize the concert wasn't a political forum. Nonetheless, we think West's comments were one of the few real moments in the telecast. We aren't saying West is right or wrong. That's not the argument here. We're upset that NBC didn't let one of the most culturally and racially diverse cities in the US decide for itself. If the goal of the concert was truly to get people to care about the catastrophe, who's to say that his words wouldn't speak to a large segment of the population?
Angelenos can deal with seeing a taped show. But we can't deal with network executives sheltering us from something that at least 50% of prime time viewers already saw. NBC could have easily covered their bases by either bleeping West, or airing a brief disclaimer at the beginning of the broadcast explaining that the views expressed did not represent NBC [or its affiliates]. If they'd taken either action, the focus would be on West, not the Peacock.
That being said, this post doesn't necessarily represent the entire LAist staff. But it hopefully does speak for the many journalists and mature Angelenos who don't agree with censorship.
Original West photo courtesy of Jim Cooper.