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 Censorship & Scandals
Smothers Brothers Comedy HourThe Smothers Brothers - Brothers Tom & Dick Smothers co-hosted the controversial variety program THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR/CBS/1967-69 that poked fun at Middle America, the military, the police (Officer Judy), The Silent Majority, and government at large (Pat Paulsen's whacked-out jibes and editorials aimed at President Lyndon Baines Johnson). Network censors had a field day cutting what they considered unacceptable comedy skits from the program.

Some examples of segments that got the censor's axe included:

  • a special 1968 Mother's Day message which ended with the words "Please talk peace" (referring to the Vietnam War)
  • Harry Belafonte singing before a backdrop of disturbing images from the 1968 Democratic Party convention in Chicago
  • an interview with Dr. Benjamin Spock, at the time an advocate for draft evaders
  • the cancellation of the performance in 1967 of folk singer Pete Seeger (blacklisted from TV for some 20 years) who was scheduled to play the song "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" about a WWII officer killed because of his own foolishness. Afraid to insult the political powers, CBS refused to allow the song (he did, however, perform the song on a later episode). The country at the time was itself "deep" in the Vietnam War.

In October 1968, CBS executives began to prescreen all of their Smothers Brothers programs. After several tumultuous seasons, the program was canceled (the Smothers Brothers called it being "Fired") and left the air in June of 1969.

The CBS network justified their cancellation by referring to network policy that "Prohibits appeals for active support of any cause" (even if it was "peace").

TRIVIA NOTE: The CBS network would not allow singer Bob Dylan to sing "John Birch Society Talking Blues" on the ED SULLIVAN SHOW in 1963. Dylan then refused to appear on the show.


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