Tom Freston
Fmr. Pres. & CEO, Viacom
01:25

Tom Freston: Iraq and the Media

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Freston says there is plenty of responsibility to go around.

Tom Freston

Tom Freston was one of MTV's founding executives and until recently served as CEO of Viacom. Freston is responsible for the generation-defining ad campaign "I Want My MTV." In 1987 he became the CEO of MTV Networks, using his position to advance the networks' position in new markets, as well as launching several ancillary product lines and tie-ins, including "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," "The Real World," "Beavis and Butthead," "South Park" and "SpongeBob Square Pants." From 2004, Freston led Viacom, overseeing all cable network properties (MTV Networks and Showtime Networks), the motion picture businesses of Paramount Pictures, and the publishing operations of Simon & Schuster. He resigned in September 2006. Freston was educated at New York University and is currently on the Board of Trustees for Emerson College in Boston. Ideas recorded on: 11/5/07
Transcript

Question: Does the media bear any responsibility for the war in Iraq?

Tom Freston:
Well I don’t know. I mean there’s a lot of responsibility to go around. You could say that the media had a case of a post 9/11 lapse of judgment and were maybe as fearful as what we might actually be involved with, or what might be coming that may have been the case; and that was a real national patriotism issue that may be more important than it actually was, and that leadership should not have been questioned. And where was the media? You know there were voices in the media who were telling the truth. There were politicians that were telling the truth. Maybe they weren’t getting as much coverage as others; but to blame the media is like you’re blaming some single blob when in fact it’s thousands of different voices. So maybe they didn’t do well . . . as well on this in aggregate as they have on some other issues, and it wasn’t as balanced. But I think that’s probably the case.

Recorded On: 7/6/07


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