CBC reported today that NPR and CNN are refusing to air ads promoting the film Death of a President (official site and IMDB entry). The film is a documentary-style account of the fictional assassination of Bush II in 2007.
Death of a President was awarded the International Critics' Prize at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The indignant co-founder of the film's distributor, Newmarket Films' Chris Ball, bitched to the LA Times: "To refuse to accept ads for a movie is tantamount to saying it shouldn't be seen, and this runs counter to everything we are supposed to believe in a free society."
Objecting to participate in the promotion of your movie undermines free society? Puh-leeze. I didn't realize that a publicly funded radio service has a duty to advertise for anybody. And for a corporate media outlet to choose its sponsors typifies what is meant by a free society. He reminds me of Dennis the Peasant hurling abuse at King Arthur, then wailing, "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!" I would not be surprised if Ball's indignation was in fact calculated to generate publicity from all news outlets, and thereby promote his movie for the cost of a conversation with a reporter.
If NPR and CNN refuse to report the film's opening and the controversy surrounding it, that is quite another matter. As news outlets, they certainly have a duty to reportage. But they are not bound to shill for you.