In 1959, one year before the first televised presidential debates, Mike Wallace (CBS) interviewed television writer Rod Serling (Twilight Zone). They discussed sponsor interference and censorship.
“Who’s the culprit?” Wallace asked.
Serling fingered the network and sponsors but, to Wallace’s surprise, he also said “the audience themselves.”
Serling suggested that the networks needed to pacify the frenzy of a “lunatic fringe” of viewers. He gave an example; Lassie (A TV series about a dog) gave birth to puppies. Serling stated it was a wonderful episode depicting the birth process. After an influx of letters about the episode it was immediately decided there would be no more shows about birthing puppies.