FCC Overreaching: Destroying Community Standards by Trying to Enforce Them Too Much
Basically, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York rejected the FCC's imposition of fines for celebrities Cher, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie loosing the f-word unexpectedly during an awards ceremony. The court agreed with the major TV networks who noted newscasters were not fined when Bush let go with the s-word during a conversation with Tony Blair and Dick Cheney loosed the f-word in a confrontation with U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy aired on C-SPAN. Here's a way-cool analysis of it all.
The problem has been the FCC's unwillingness to realize that its enforcement of content standards has always been most effective as a loose cooperative with broadcasters. Once the agency began to try fining broadcasters for events which were clearly accidents -- from Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction to U2 singer Bono excitedly using the f-word while accepting a Golden Globe -- the FCC began pushing broadcasters to challenge the very constitutionality of their enforcement powers.
Now, the FCC must head to the Supreme Court to defend its right to police any kind of content on air. And while lots of free speech advocates wouldn't mind seeing the FCC's enforcement power eliminated, I shudder to think what will become of prime time once broadcasters feel free to air whatever they like, whenever they like. We're already drowning in corpses and curse words just short of the f-word, s-word and c-word; I foresee a future where a handful of cable channels will become the last refuge for parents and children who hope to watch prime time TV together.
All this because the FCC allowed itself to become a re-election tool for Republicans, instituting fines for infractions they would have ignored just a few years ago.
Talkers Magazine Hands Free Speech Award to Bigot and Anti-Semite
Was that Michael Savage, the guy who MSNBC fired for telling a gay caller he "should only get AIDS and die," actually getting a Freedom of Speech Award from an organization connected to Talkers magazine?
Yup. The guy who calls calls certain countries "Turd World Nations" and refers to "homosexual perversion" is being honored by a magazine which calls itself the bible of the talk radio industry. The distinction which qualified him for an award which has also been given to Salmon Rushdie, CSPAN's Brian Lamb and Rush Limbaugh? Being the first major conservative radio personality to criticize George W. Bush.
I shouldn't have been that surprised. I've always felt Talkers was a bit of haven for the folks who have turned the talk radio industry into an annex of the GOP. And past award winners also have included Howard Stern, so taste may not be much of a threshhold.
Still, I couldn't believe a major trade publication would hand an award to a guy who is so nakedly anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-Muslim. then I called magazine publisher Michael Harrison.
Clearly annoyed that I was critical of his selection, Harrison explained the choice: "It showed courage because it went against the basic conception that conservatives were supporting George Bush. We think, anybody who criticizes government is utilizing free speech...He said a whole barrage of things over a long period of time. He criticized the President's immigration policy, the President’s handling of the war -- he just became critical of the president and critical of politicians, which we think is a great example. Hosts who shouldn’t be political hacks, They shouldn’t endorse politicians blindly. He’s not getting the award because we agree with what he says, or because we like what he says, it has nothing to do with his views."
Good thing. Because, as I pointed out when he got fired by MSNBC in 2003, Michael Savage has some pretty indefensible views.
Here's a few, admittedly gathered by the left-leaning Web site Media Matters (though they are backed by audio clips included with every quote, so you can hear the context):
On the Muslim religion: "Why doesn't someone say, "It's a bloodthirsty religion that's practiced over there by a bunch of throwbacks, and we're gonna kill 'em"? "That's it, we're leaving them; we're killing them, now get out of there." That's what the whole world is screaming at Bush."
On Wolf Blitzer and Larry King: "That's why the department store dummy named Wolf Blitzer, a Jew who was born in Israel, will do the astonishing act of being the type that would stick Jewish children into a gas chamber to stay alive another day. He's probably the most despicable man in the media next to Larry King, who takes a close runner-up by the hair of a nose. The two of them together look like the type that would have pushed Jewish children into the oven to stay alive one more day to entertain the Nazis."
On illegal immigration: "If you take to the streets with the vermin who are trying to dictate to us how we should run America, even though they're not even entitled to vote or be here, you're going to be thrown out of office. The people will throw you out of office. There are not enough of them to re-elect you. You will be out of a job. You will not have a living. You will be hunting for a job. Maybe, you'll be picking the vegetables."
On feminism and homosexuality: "Feminism is destroying America. Homosexuality is destroying America. Weepy liberalism is destroying America. That's why we're walking around here like the walking dead. We need leadership. We're craving leadership....I mean, they have you believe everyone's an illegal alien or gay. If you turned on CNN, you -- they'd have you believe everyone's gay, lesbian, or an illegal alien. And only, the few people that are left, the remnants, three or four thousand people left are white and go to church, and they're heterosexual, they raise children. The other 300 million people are either gay or illegal aliens or gangsters, that's according to the media."
More on Muslims: "Only a devastating military blow against the hearts of Islamic terror coupled with an outright ban on Muslim immigration, laws making the dissemination of enemy propaganda illegal, and the uncoupling of the liberal ACLU can save the United States. I would also make the construction of mosques illegal in America and the speaking of English only in the streets of the United States the law."
On gay rights: "I want to tell you something, and I'm going to say it to you loud and clear. The radical homosexual agenda will not stop until religion is outlawed in this country. Make no mistake about it. They're all not nice decorators. You better get it through your head before it's too late. They threaten your very survival. They went after the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is now caving into the homosexual mafia. They will not stop until they force their agenda down your throats. Gay marriage is just the tip of the iceberg. They want full and total subjugation of this society to their agenda. Now, if you want that and if you don't think it's a threat -- believe me, that is what's going to occur in this country."
Certainly sounds like a guy who respects freedom of speech and deserves a high-profile honor.
The only thing more chilling that those quotes is the sad fact that Talkers estimates Savage is the third most-listened to radio personality in the country.