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Fox Family Feud Over ‘Family Guy’

Brooks Barnes
NY Times [1]
Tuesday, Oct 21, 2008

A Sunday night episode of the Fox animated series “Family Guy” stirred up trouble by suggesting­ rather directly that Nazi officers would have supported the McCain-Palin ticket. And it was another arm of the News Corp. conglomerate, Fox News Channel, that first reported on the episode.

Fox (the broadcast network) aired the episode in which Stewie, the obnoxious baby character at the center of the series, and Brian, a talking dog, traveled back in time to Poland during the 1939 German invasion. The characters ambush Nazi soldiers in an alley and steal their uniforms so they can travel without drawing attention. Putting on an overcoat, Stewie notices a McCain-Palin campaign button affixed to the lapel. “Huh, that’s weird,” Stewie remarks.

“Family Guy” has never been known for its taste level. One recent episode depicted Jesus binge drinking, and the hit show once got in trouble with the Federal Communications Commission for showing a partially nude cartoon character. The series’ creator, Seth MacFarlane, is a prominent supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential bid. So fans of the program seemed to take the scene in stride: by mid-day Monday, the vast majority of blog mentions of the episode were favorable.

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And the phones at the network’s Los Angeles press office were silent until … a call arrived from the Fox News Channel asking for comment for a story it was preparing and which subsequently appeared on the Fox News Web site.

According to a Fox executive who would not talk on the record for fear of angering his News Corporation colleagues, this generated more calls from other reporters.