Politicians Top `No Respect' List on Prime Time TV, Study Finds

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- They are the Rodney Dangerfields of broadcast television: politicians, postal workers and government employees. They get no respect.

According to a new report, postal workers tend to be portrayed as lazy and inept -- like Cliff Clavin, the blowhard mail carrier perched on a barstool at Cheers. Politicians like Boss Hogg on The Dukes of Hazzard are stereotyped as greedy.

Police officers and teachers, however, are depicted more positively.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs, a non-partisan research organization in Washington, came up with these findings after examining how prime-time entertainment shows on broadcast television over the last four decades have depicted elected officials, law enforcers, teachers and people who work for the government.

Elected officials had the worst image of any government-related occupation shown on TV for the entire time period examined.

The report is based on 1,234 prime-time series episodes from 1955 through 1998 on ABC, CBS and NBC, and the years during that period after Fox was launched.

In analyzing shows airing from 1955 through 1986, 51 percent of the politicians played negative roles compared with 40 percent who played positive ones, while 9 percent of the portrayals were neutral.

Politicians' roles have become more neutral in the past few years. For shows airing between 1992 and 1998, only 31 percent were depicted negatively, 22 percent positively and 47 percent neutrally. …