So I’m challenging Les Moonves again. On Friday, I urged Mr. Smart But Smarmy to cancel Kid Nation and talk straight to his board about the show, and for the CBS directors in turn to hold his feet to the fire over that irresponsible abomination. (See my Les Moonves, A Mogul With No Conscience.) Now, in the short term, I want Moonves to lift all the gag orders on the 40 children and their parents who signed that 22-page participation agreement in which a strict confidentiality clause covers disclosure of information about the show and contact with the media for the next three years. If violated, a $5 million penalty is charged. I say, if CBS has nothing to hide concerning allegations of child abuse and violation of child safety and labor laws in the filming of the reality show, then let everyone involved talk freely to the media.
I see that CBS has already rolled out to the media a few kids and parents primarily because they’re talking positively about their Kid Nation experience. For instance, two Kid Nation Minnesotans, 14-year-old Maggie and 11-year-old Brett, and their mothers, recently did media interviews arranged by CBS, who declined to reveal anyone’s last names for “security reasons”. The St. Paul Pioneer Press revealed that Maggie was rushed to the hospital during filming with a stress fracture on her thumb. The network has still not acknowledged that injury, and god only knows how many more occurred.
Already, editorials condemning CBS have begun appearing in major newspapers like the Baltimore Sun, New York Daily News and Boston Globe, which urged “viewers to step back and reestablish the line between entertainment and exploitation”. Meanwhile, several state and union investigations are ongoing about the show asking what I am: if CBS and therefore Moonves were as proud of Kid Nation as they’d have us believe, then why were such pains taken to shoot in such secrecy, and do it in a state that did not protect children on showbiz sets, and in such a way that guild rules didn’t apply? Congress, which back in the 1950s discovered that TV quiz shows were being fixed, should use its oversight and subpoena powers and begin a probe on this latest TV scandal because it involves children.