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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > Quayle/Cultural Elite

Dan Quayle, the Vice-President with a low, 26% favorable rating in national polls, has found, he thinks, a formula for being politically reborn. Sprung from his Washington zoo of ridicule, satire and chuckle, he has hit the road attacking the fictional heroine of the “Murphy Brown” television show for bearing a child out of wedlock, and generally lambasting “the cultural elites who respect neither tradition nor standards. They believe that moral truths are relative and all ‘life styles’ are equal. They seem to think the family is an arbitrary arrangement of people who live under the same roof. . .” The media went wild with his charges. However, the reporters could find no one who would own up to being a member of the “cultural elite.” But Quayle knew. Visiting Hempstead, Long Island, he told the press: “I know exactly who the cultural elite, the media elite and the Hollywood elite are.” But he did not provide any details.

There is good reason why Quayle wallows in anonymity, much like Spiro Agnew did twenty years ago when he denounced “those who” would undermine the country. For if Quayle did name names, a list of major corporations would bubble up from the ooze. Executives of these corporations and their allies are the ones filling television programs, video programs and paperbacks with this salacious, sex-crazed, violent material — much of it beamed to children — that Quayle condemns. So if the rich media heir from Indiana, Dan Quayle, were to be specific, he would be condemning his and the Republican Party’s masters, mentors and financiers.

After all, when the major television networks have been given the Federal Communications Commission as a wholly owned subsidiary, thereby exempting de facto the television industry from the public interest standards of the 1934 Communications Act, the givers — Bush/Quayle — are not going to name and expose these networks for the violent children’s programming that mixes junk food ads with zapping and vaporizing combat cartoons. Also, Quayle is not about to name the giant studios producing Arnold Schwarzenegger films. Arnold is a vocal Bush/Quayle supporter.

Quayle also isn’t about to say that his “cultural elite” are really the corporations. Or that his problem is with “corporate’ values” that say anything goes as long as it makes profits and big bonuses for the corporate bosses. Quayle’s problem seems to be with a capitalism run amuck, a profiteering pandering to the lowest, most vile depravity, on the one hand, and what he believes to be new anti-family life styles, on the other hand.

In only one instance, Quayle was provoked into criticizing a company by name — Time-Warner — for selling Ice-T’s rap music about a victim of police brutality. Now, the Vice-President is on a slippery slope. If he keeps this political rap of his going, some hungry reporters may want him to name those corporations. If that happens, then Quayle will have opened up the corporate Pandora’s box.

Imagine tracing who produced and profited from a one-hour cable program earlier this year which, at a prime time evening hour when children could have been watching, the Madame of a legal whorehouse in Nevada and her leading prostitute engaged in a detailed exhortation to American women to take up their profession in greater numbers. One of their arguments was that prostitution keeps spouses together, unlike infidelities in the neighborhood which get back to the cheated husband or wife.

In late June, Quayle spoke before the annual convention of radio talk show hosts in Washington, D.C. He came across like a jolly Joe College and about as light. Practiced jokes and answers to easy questions went off well among the audience. Then, Boston talk show host, Jerry Williams, stood up and asked the Vice-President whether “your moral crusade” is just a diversion from the big economic problems, unemployment and poverty in this election year. Quayle seemed taken aback and then, according to his media training, sympathized with the jobless and discoursed about the need for family to give children a good education.

As he left the podium after his speech, Quayle passed by Jerry Williams, looked at him directly and said, “You’re tough.” One is not sure whether this should be taken as a compliment to Williams or a rebuke to the patsy press with their softball questions. Name those corporations in the entertainment industry whose programs irritate you, Dan, and you’ll get down to the basic curricula, if you have the nerve.