Tom Freston
Fmr. Pres. & CEO, Viacom
01:33

Tom Freston: Our Better Angels Will Prevail

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Freston rejects the Hobbesian view of mankind. It's time to believe in our better side.

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: Do you have a political philosophy?

Tom Freston: Well I would judge myself to be – I’m an independent. I don’t necessarily say I’m a Democrat or a Republican in American terminology. But I do believe that . . . I do believe in the basic goodness of man, and I don’t appreciate, you know, the fear mongering, negative Hobbsian view that a man is basically a beast to be contained and to be wary of. I think that kind of thinking gets you into a lot of trouble if you’re a political leader or a political follower. So I tend to believe more, but not in a naïve way, in the better side of humanity. And I believe that politically anybody who wants to really honestly communicate information, and inform and educate people, and build their awareness about issues in a solid way, that would be somebody . . . And do it in a real voice and not be the classic politician sellout of looking to do anything for votes. I think America . . . a lot of America would agree with me on this, in that there’s really a dearth of candidates today that people would think maybe feel that way.

Recorded On: 7/6/07


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