The Naked Truth About CBS and Teen Sex

Nudity hypocrisy: It's okay for hot celebrities, but objectionable for teens. Teen sex – fine to talk about and even encourage, but “shocking” in reality.

The CBS “Early Show” host Harry Smith took the tone of a disappointed father when he  semi-nude photos of themselves and others to their friends. But last month, when the beautiful Jennifer Aniston posed nude on the cover of GQ magazine, well, that was just too good not to show viewers!

The January 15 “Early Show” segment about “sexting” featured co-host Harry Smith calling the exchange and receipt of naked photos “shocking, but not unusual.” He quoted a recent nationwide survey that found that nearly 20 percent of teens admit to “sexting.”

The segment included photos of “High School Musical” star Vanessa Hudgins, appropriately blurred out, with Smith saying she learned that, “inappropriate photos can end up where you don't want them.” The segment appropriately censored another photo of a young woman. However, CBS was not always this considerate to viewers.

On December 11, 2008, the “Early Show” justified displaying two different soft-core pornographic photos because they were of actress Jennifer Aniston, a guest scheduled to appear the next week. The hosts discussed the mostly nude photos of Aniston quipping that she was “very patriotic” according to host Maggie Rodriguez, commenting on Aniston's single accessory: a red, white and blue striped tie. Co-host Julie Chen noted that “she looks pretty… hot!” and meteorologist Dave Price told her to “Stop talking and appreciate it!”

Nor has CBS News always been shy about teen sexuality.

Last January, the CBS “Evening News” featured a bold segment about the Midwest Teen Sex Show, a podcast on sexuality, and promoted it as a favorable alternative to abstinence. In March, the “Early Show” gave the soapbox to actress and planned parenthood flack Kate Walsh, who derided abstinence-only sex education. Most recently,  on January 8th, CBS correspondent Bianca Soloranzo also argued that abstinence education is failing: “Experts fear we've been lulled into a false sense of security. And have stopped pouring resources into prevention.”

So CBS News leers at nude celebrities, shrugs off sexual abstinence for teens, and then tuts its disapproval when confronted with active teen sexuality? Yep, sounds like hypocrisy.

Erin Brown is an intern at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.