Just last week, a network executive promised the ADL that NBC would remove a controversial skit from the December 4 Saturday Night Live for any future airings of the episode.
The ADL, a group that has been fighting anti-Semitism since 1913, had complained that "And So This Is Hanukkah" sketch, featuring parodies of pop stars singing holiday songs, was offensive. The group particulary fumed over a mock Britney Spears singing that Christians have forgiven Jews for "having killed our Lord." ADL national director Abraham Foxman wrote a letter to the network saying the skit's gags "represented anti-Semitic stereotypes at their worst." He called SNL's "lame attempt" at humor "unacceptable."
That prompted NBC's Rosalyn Weinman to write Foxman back with the promise that the "problematic" skit would be cut from reruns. (SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels, however, reportedly did not go along with Weinman, and said the decision to excise the sketch was "still under discussion.")
But after the news broke that the bit would be edited out, some SNL viewers called in to say they weren't really offended. So Weinman, the network's vice president of broadcast standards, issued a statement Monday saying she had changed her mind. "We have reviewed the viewer response to the 'And So This Is Hanukkah' sketch and have decided that it will air again unedited.
"Today's environment makes our judgment calls in these situations increasingly difficult because we must find a balance between being politically correct and being funny in a non-hurtful way."
Weinman says the decision to do a 180 was hers and hers alone.
For his part, Foxman was saddened by NBC's about-face. "We find selected portions of the skit offensive and not funny...We, too, have heard from viewers, most of whom are avid SNL fans, who, nevertheless, believed a fine line was crossed."
The SNL incident is the second time in a month that NBC has waffled over content matter. Earlier this season, the network decided to delete the word "tamale" from an already-filmed episode of Will & Grace after Hispanic groups objected to its use in a scene between a white woman and her Latina housekeeper.
When the episode was repeated a few weeks ago, "tamale" was edited back into the dialogue.