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KNBC Concludes Coverage of LA Uprising on 30 April 1992 for Mayor Bradley’s statement to watch The Cosby Show Finale

by Phil Ethington

As the newscasters of KNBC in Los Angeles wrap up their news coverage of the second day of the LA Uprising on 30 April 1991, a reporter delivers a message from Mayor Tom Bradley which calls on people to watch the final episode of the Cosby Show. “Today Mayor Bradley urged us to stay home, stay off the streets and watch 'The Cosby Show.'” Bradley’s belief that the The Cosby Show would be a healing experience for a metropolis in the midst of a genuine uprising, speaks volumes about his perspective on the crisis.

In US Television’s 1980s, The Cosby Show, which debuted in 1984, was indeed groundbreaking, to portray an upper middle class black family without making race a theme of the show. The breakthrough was a top-ranked sitcom that white people watched. It may have been so popular among white people, however, precisely because it did not confront the overwhelming realities of racial discrimination that haunted every person of color in America. It was a show that perfectly represented Ronald Reagan’s claims of “color blindness”. (The New Right’s neoliberal ideological claim that we are in a “post-Civil rights” era in which the battles are all won and all that is left is to stop thinking or talking about race).

Media historian Herman Gray justifiably categorizes the Cosby Show as “assimilationist” in its lack of racial commentary.Herman Gray, Watching Race Television and the Struggle for Blackness (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995).

The Mayor Bradley and comedian Bill Cosby coordinated their statements carefully, as the LA Times reports below:

“Said Bunting: "The mayor asked for him to do (a) public-service announcement. Bill Cosby's office called the mayor and asked what Mr. Cosby could say on the show, because he had committed his time to making some kind of statement, a comment about what was going on in Los Angeles. So he asked the mayor for some kind of counsel."

When KNBC General Manager Reed Manville finally decided to go ahead with the program, it was introduced on the air, amid coverage of the riots, by anchor Jess Marlow, who said:

"Today Mayor Bradley urged us to stay home, stay off the streets and watch 'The Cosby Show.' We believe we need this time (as) a cooling-off period . . . to remember what our Thursday nights were like before this all began. If major events dictate, be assured that we will return immediately."”

KNBC Concludes Coverage of LA Uprising on 30 April 1992 for Mayor Bradley’s statement to watch The Cosby Show Finale

by Phil Ethington

As the newscasters of KNBC in Los Angeles wrap up their news coverage of the second day of the LA Uprising on 30 April 1991, a reporter delivers a message from Mayor Tom Bradley which calls on people to watch the final episode of the Cosby Show. “Today Mayor Bradley urged us to stay home, stay off the streets and watch 'The Cosby Show.'” Bradley’s belief that the The Cosby Show would be a healing experience for a metropolis in the midst of a genuine uprising, speaks volumes about his perspective on the crisis.

In US Television’s 1980s, The Cosby Show, which debuted in 1984, was indeed groundbreaking, to portray an upper middle class black family without making race a theme of the show. The breakthrough was a top-ranked sitcom that white people watched. It may have been so popular among white people, however, precisely because it did not confront the overwhelming realities of racial discrimination that haunted every person of color in America. It was a show that perfectly represented Ronald Reagan’s claims of “color blindness”. (The New Right’s neoliberal ideological claim that we are in a “post-Civil rights” era in which the battles are all won and all that is left is to stop thinking or talking about race).

Media historian Herman Gray justifiably categorizes the Cosby Show as “assimilationist” in its lack of racial commentary.Herman Gray, Watching Race Television and the Struggle for Blackness (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995).

The Mayor Bradley and comedian Bill Cosby coordinated their statements carefully, as the LA Times reports below:

“Said Bunting: "The mayor asked for him to do (a) public-service announcement. Bill Cosby's office called the mayor and asked what Mr. Cosby could say on the show, because he had committed his time to making some kind of statement, a comment about what was going on in Los Angeles. So he asked the mayor for some kind of counsel."

When KNBC General Manager Reed Manville finally decided to go ahead with the program, it was introduced on the air, amid coverage of the riots, by anchor Jess Marlow, who said:

"Today Mayor Bradley urged us to stay home, stay off the streets and watch 'The Cosby Show.' We believe we need this time (as) a cooling-off period . . . to remember what our Thursday nights were like before this all began. If major events dictate, be assured that we will return immediately."”

KNBC Concludes Coverage of LA Uprising on 30 April 1992 for Mayor Bradley’s statement to watch The Cosby Show Finale

As the newscasters of KNBC in Los Angeles wrap up their news coverage of the second day of the LA Uprising on 30 April 1992, a reporter delivers a message from Mayor Tom Bradley which calls on people to watch the final episode of the Cosby Show.

from KNBC Coverage of the Los Angeles Uprising on 30 April 1992. (1992)
Creator: KNBC
Distributor: NBC
Posted by Phil Ethington
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