The Murphy Brown- Dan Quayle controversy isn’t the first time a TV show has found itself in the middle of a rancorous socio-political debate. Here’s a look back at other notable clashes, both serious and silly:
1959: All references to Nazi gas chambers are bleeped from Playhouse 90‘s telecast of Judgment at Nuremberg to assuage a sponsor, the Gas Industry of America.
1966: CBS withdraws reruns of the early-’50s sitcom Amos ‘n’ Andy from syndication after civil rights groups complain that the show perpetuates black stereotypes.
1968: Sponsors and viewers object to a sequence in Petula Clark’s NBC special in which the British singer touches guest Harry Belafonte’s arm.
1969: The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour is yanked by CBS after President Nixon pledges an FCC crackdown on network permissiveness.
1972: An episode of the CBS series Maude in which Beatrice Arthur gets an abortion draws hundreds of angry letters, some including pictures of aborted fetuses.
1973: Pressured by Jewish and other religious groups, CBS axes the popular mixed-marriage sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie, with Meredith Baxter and David Birney, after one season.
1976: After John Amos quits his role as the father on CBS’ Good Times, the National Black Media Coalition fails in its attempt to get producer Norman Lear to recast the part to avoid the negative image of a fatherless black household.
1977: ABC receives almost 32,000 letters protesting Soap, which features Billy Crystal as a homosexual; the National Gay Task Force threatens a sponsor boycott if the network makes the character straight. It doesn’t.
1978: Sears pulls its ads from ABC’s ”jiggle shows” Three’s Company and Charlie’s Angels after they’re attacked by the National Federation for Decency.
1982: After complaints from parents, students, and series sponsor Xerox, PBS decides not to air a segment of the documentary Middletown that shows high schoolers smoking pot.
1986: The video for Madonna’s ”Papa, Don’t Preach,” about an unwed mother who keeps her baby, stirs debate between feminists and fundamentalists about teen pregnancy.
1988: CBS snips a 3 1/2 second scene from Mighty Mouse (in which the rodent sniffs crushed flowers) after Mississippi minister Donald Wildmon contends the rodent snorted cocaine.
1989: Offended by an episode in which Peg Bundy buys a bra, Michigan housewife Terry Rakolta starts an unsuccessful boycott of Fox’s Married With Children‘s advertisers.
1989: The NBC movie Roe vs. Wade loses advertisers after anti-abortion groups threaten boycotts.
1991: Michael Jackson apologizes after a four-minute coda to his video ”Black or White,” showing the singer rubbing his crotch and vandalizing a car, causes a public uproar.
1992: President Bush tells religious broadcasters, ”We need a nation closer to The Waltons than The Simpsons.” Bart responds on the show: ”We’re just like the Waltons. We’re praying for the end of a depression too.”