ABC edited the word "Jesus" out of a recent broadcast so viewers wouldn't be offended. But it seems to have had the opposite effect.
The bleeped "Jesus" on The View has drawn the ire of the Rev. Jerry Falwell, some conservative media watchdogs and even the women whose on-air conversation was altered.
"It is political correctness run amok," said Elizabeth Swasey, spokeswoman for the Media Research Center.
On the May 23 edition of The View, Meredith Vieira noted that the daily weigh-ins of her dieting co-host, Joy Behar, had ended.
"Yes, and thank you, thank you, Jesus, is all I have to say," Behar replied.
Her words were aired live in much of the country, but when ABC broadcast a taped version of the show on the West Coast, "Jesus" was edited out.
ABC spokeswoman Julie Hoover said the use ran afoul of a pretty clear standard.
The network has no problem with Jesus Christ's name if it is used in a "prayerful and respectful manner," she said. (ABC's Peter Jennings anchored a highly rated news special, The Search For Jesus, in July 2000.)
But ABC does not allow Jesus' name to be used in an exclamation.
"Under the circumstances, we were concerned it would be offensive to our audience," Hoover said.
The incident comes at a time broadcasters in general are pushing the boundaries of language and content. Expletives rarely allowed on the networks were used this year, for instance, on a May ER episode on NBC and on CBS' special using video from inside the World Trade Center.
Five days after the Behar incident, hosts of The View noted they had received about 100 letters of complaint.
"It was stupid to beep that," co-host Star Jones said. "They let us say all kinds of things on TV, but they beep Jesus? That makes no sense."
Falwell, in a newspaper column, said: "Conservative Catholics and evangelical Christians are expected to accept this double standard and keep our mouths shut."