Stern bulletin

Stern bulletin
: Howard Stern said he found out last night that the FCC is going to levy record fines against him today.

I told you so.

The government is going after free speech.

More in a few minutes…

: UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal confirms.

Ditto UPI.

: OC Weekly hates Stern but tells its listeners to defend him:

You. Yeah, you

  • Eric

    Same thing’ll happen under any Administration Dems or Repubs. And it isn’t only Repubs on these committee’s, there are liberals who don’t like the things he says, but he hammers the Christian’s & Repubs? What about the P.C. & Race pimps? I am sure they are right there along with the Fundie Christian nuts. Because there are many instances where they skewer Freedom of Speech too, it should be a rail against all of the First Amendment squashers.

  • http://protocols.blogspot.com Steven I. Weiss

    To up the conspiracy ante a bit, I suppose it’s possible that Clear Channel knew the fines were coming before they dropped him.

  • Dave

    (1) Just because Stern’s says something, I guess it must be factual. Yeah right. And CC owns 30% of satellite radio.
    (2) This just HAS to be Bush’s doings, right? I mean, GWB wrote those laws that have been on the books since before he was born. And Stern hasn’t broken any well-known laws to deserve a fine. Oh, and like all media professionals, Stern was completely ignorant of those laws.
    (3) So let’s get rid of the FCC. Let’s open up the public airwaves to any and all. Oh, wait a minute, then my neighbor builds a 500 foot tower in his backyard (breaking those nasty zoning laws you know, they also have no right to make them) and now i’m stuck having all my OVER THE AIR radio flooded with his crappy music. But hey, as long as HE got HIS free speech. Dammit, I guess there is a reason for the FCC, including a reason for their need to make judgement calls on what is proper and not.
    (4) What’s to stop Radio bin Ladin from calling for their Jihad on Clear Channel? Hmmmmm…. certainly NOT the FCC. No, nothing except Clear Channel. After all, privately owned employers in this country have rights too. Seems like there’s alot of free speech out there.
    (5) Enough free speech that I can come on here and tell you to give it up. You haven’t a leg to stand on, and you’re beginning to hamper your ability to convince anyone of anything with this constant idiocy of Stern losing SIX stations in his entire network – representing a small amount of ALL the ones who carry him – and the fact that a private business removed him for breaking well-known rules is somehow an infringement of my free speech.
    (6) And finally…. there’s enough free speech out there that I know my comments can’t do anything to stop you from posting yet another comment about this yet another day.

  • billg

    I’ve argued that Clear Channel’s dropping of Stern’s show wsa obvious political bootlicking, not censorship. And, any fines levied against Stern would be bootlicking, too.
    In the first case, it was Clear Channel trying to score a few easy points with a few folks in Congress. Any fines against Stern will be trying to score a few points with the funamentalist right wing on the lay-away plan. “Lay-away” because the White House will keep hands off all this until and if they think it will grab some votes this fall. If so, you’ll hear a few choice lines about cleaning up the airwaves inserted in Bush’s campain speeches. If not, they’ll point the finger at the FCC and say “not me”.
    We go through these paroxysms of silliness every so often. So long as the focal point is someone showing “too much” skin or saying “dirty” words, it won’t gain much mainstream traction. (Most folks abhor censorship, but equate folks like Stern, etc., with a general and unfortunate vulgarization of culture. I.e., Stern has a right to say what he wants, they just wish no one would find it interesting.)
    Someone like Stern usually sues and, eventually, the courts slap a few wrists and tweak the rules just a bit.
    The time to really worry about real censorship is when scripts and manuscripts are reviewed and altered by someone other than editors. (And, we all know that an editor would never, ever, keep a staffer from saying something…right?)

  • Anonymous

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Stern
    “In 1992 the FCC fined Infinity Broadcasting $600,000 after Stern discussed masturbating to a picture of Aunt Jemima.”
    There is nothing new under the sun.

  • Question

    A question for all the people who believe ClearChannel and FCC are acting in good faith, with the public’s best interest in mind: Why now? What happened to make all this come down on Stern now, after, as you say, decades of similar behaviour?

  • Mara

    KCRW/NPR just canned Sandra Tsing Loh after six years for language. Yep, that pro-Bush NPR is making the world safe for the reelection of GWB.
    Jeff, the FCC takes just short of forever to decide on fines. These have probably been in the pipeline for a while. Wanna bet CC knew they were coming and that’s why Stern went off the air. After the Bubba the Love Sponge fine, they probably didn’t want to put their broadcast licenses in peril.

  • Trump

    Jeff:
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances
    Once again, please point out what the violation of this ammendment is?

  • Trump

    PS- Please tell me again, I forgot….what gulag is Stern being sent to for his speech? How many years is he getting again…?

  • http://www.photodude.com/ Reid

    Really? The largest fine ever? It will be more than $6 million? Or is this just more of Howard’s statistical hyperbole, like yesterday’s “fact” that Clear Channel owns %40 of XM, when it’s really more like 4%?
    So, Howard will be fined.
    Again. Ho-hum.
    If “The government is going after free speech,” they’ve been doing it a long time. Long before Bush was a member of the federal government. Over the past dozen years, Howard hasn’t been able to go more than a couple of years without an FCC fine.
    This Is Nothing New! This is simply Howard. There is no one else to blame.
    1992: “Radio’s Howard Stern racked up $1.7 million in fines in 1992 from the Federal Communications Commission for talking dirty. The comment that led to the FCC’s fine was a syrupy comedy routine involving fantasies about pancake maven Aunt Jemima.”
    1995: “The FCC … decided to fine WBZU in Richmond, formally, WVGO, for something deemed offensive from a broadcast of Howard’s show.”
    1997: “He has had a running battle with the Federal Communications Commission over free speech issues. He is currently fighting FCC fines totaling over $1.5 million. ”
    1997: “Well, this week the Stern hit the fan with a $6000 fine when Howard’s flagship station, WXRK FM, 92.3 K-Rock, was hit with a Notice of Apparent Liability (a fine) for having aired segments of the Stern show that were found to be indecent enough by the FCC to fine WBUZ in Richmond and WEZB in New Orleans both $10,000 late last year.”
    1999: “He had a man play the piano with his penis, which resulted in the first of Stern’s many FCC fines for indecency. He also asked porno star Jenna Jamison’s father to identify his daughter’s vagina from a lineup of five vagina photos, which Jamison’s father did. The staff applauded, and a Stern affiliate was fined. While breaking social mores, Stern has cost his parent company, Infinity Broadcasting (a division of CBS), more than $1 million in FCC fines. Technically Infinity’s payouts are “donations” to the U.S. Treasury, something to ensure it can purchase more radio stations. For Infinity Broadcasting, the fines are a small cost of doing business. Stern is its cash cow.”
    Re-read that last line. Infinity feels controversial acts and FCC fines are a cost of doing business, with their “cash cow.” They profit from it.
    Obviously, Clear Channel made a different business decision.
    Yet you call it censorship. What was it prior to the election of George Bush, as in the incidents listed above? Because Howard’s been knee deep in the dog’s business his whole career!

  • hen

    boy i miss the old days when moonbats wd scream about “no blood for ooooiiillll”, now it’s all about shutting down Stern – how boring.

  • trump

    A question for all the people who believe ClearChannel and FCC are acting in good faith, with the public’s best interest in mind: Why now? What happened to make all this come down on Stern now, after, as you say, decades of similar behaviour
    An answer: The irresponsible Super Bowl Halftime show really angered a LOT of people. Congress, always looking for an easy way to score votes, jumped all over it. The FCC, taking their cue from congress, is now involved.
    Basically, CBS/Viacom acted irresponsibly (a point that I never see made here btw) the people got mad, and here we are. Blame? Howabout CBS/Viacom? You know, the ones who made this mess possible?

  • trump

    The sad part is I listen to Stern everyday and if he’s off the air I’ll have a hole to fill in the mornings, but that doesn’t mean I’ll blindly follow him…

  • lee

    That’s right – which gulag is he being sent to? Having a right to say something and the right to be paid to say it are two different things.

  • Jim

    So if I were to sell marijuana, and the government busted me, it would be the government’s fault and I should scream to the ACLU about my rights being violated, right? I wouldn’t have any culpability since I happen to believe that marijuana should be legalized. Just because “the government” says it’s illegal doesn’t really mean it is if I don’t agree with it…
    And since they took so long to actually charge me with something, then obviously they condoned what I was doing the whole time…It’s just so hypocritical of the government to all of a sudden get pious on me about enforcing the law just because it happened to be on the books the whole time. I mean we all knew the law was there, it’s not like it was a state secret or anything. If they were serious about it, they should have stopped me a long time ago.
    I mean there was that charge a few years back, and it set me back a pretty penny. But hey, if they were really upset then they should have been more insistent about me not dealing then…To do it now is just so..so… puritan!
    I should call all my friends and scream at the top of my lungs about government oppression. That’s what this is…they are violating my rights!
    I mean, one law’s as good as the next, right? Do I get to pick which laws I follow, which ones I pay lip service to and which ones I not only break but brag about breaking?
    Howard decides that he’s too good for the decency rules for public broadcast, so it’s obviously the government’s fault when they tell him the jig is up…How silly of me not to have seen that before…
    Like I’ve said on this subject before, if you don’t like the rules regarding what is and is not allowable on the public airwaves then contact your representatives and argue for a rule change. Until the rules change, the rules are what the rules are and everyone (including Howard Stern) has to live by them.
    Howard Stern isn’t a martyr on the altar of censorship, he’s just another guy who got caught breaking the rules…
    I wonder why I don’t hear the same alarm bells being rung over Bubba the Love Sponge or the Greaseman in his time? Oops…I guess that the Greaseman must not count since Bush wasn’t in office then…my mistake…
    Weren’t they “censored” too? No…I guess not…I guess it’s only censorship if you *like* the guy being “censored”…Otherwise it’s just another rulebreaker paying the price for going too far…
    Double standards…my favorite kind…
    Here’s the operative phrase: “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”…If he doesn’t like the blowback, I guess he shouldn’t have tried to make a living on the other side of the line…
    I won’t be shedding any tears for him even if the fines were to completely bankrupt him…You lay down your money, you roll the dice as he did on a daily basis…and you live with the result…Sometimes you come out a big winner, sometimes a big loser…Dem’s da breaks, kid…No crying allowed…
    It’s a lesson he and his defenders would do well to learn….

  • http://willcollier.com Will Collier

    Yawn. Stern’s playing the victim card for the umpteenth time to boost his visibility and ratings. He’s a boor and a bore and this is (as noted above) much ado about nothing new.
    Howard Stern will have zero impact on any national election. Anybody who takes Stern seriously wasn’t going to be voting for Bush in the first place…

  • Jeff B.

    It is unclear what specific offense Mr. Stern would be targeted for, and officials said Viacom isn’t expected to face a fine greater than $27,500. That’s a pittance compared with some FCC fines that have totaled in the hundreds of millions.
    Record fines, eh? Yeah, $27,500 will break Viacom like a dry autumn twig. Sure. Hey Jeff, mayhap Stern was exaggerating here? Again?
    Look, Jeff, I’ve stayed out of the Stern debate since I think you’re being more than a little obtuse (and heck, I like Howard too). In particular, your refusal to EVER address strong counterarguments in a post – not comments, but a post – kind of bothers me. You have yet to make a practical case for SOLVING this problem – it’s easier to complain about it and constantly allude to dark rumblings among the “Stern-bloc” of newly anti-Bush voters – and I think that’s because you’re caught on the horns of the dilemma: your position against the FCC’s fining of Stern for language which clearly contravenes Federal statutes requires you to call for the end of the FCC and the enforcement of any broadcast standards over the public airwaves. That’s your only logically tenable position, given that you’re outraged by the idea that the FCC would fine and lean upon indecency on the public airwaves – and your repeated, studied refusal to even address that subject indicates that you think it’s a losing proposition. Honestly, that’s the way I lean – towards deregulation. But unless you’re willing to take a consistent position – either you’re for Stern and against FCC decency standards or you favor the existence of the FCC and must therefore stand back and let Stern take his well-deserved punishment, no matter how much you personally like him – it’s hard to take a lot of your writing here seriously. It just seems like venting directed at Bush because well, he’s a big fat reactionary target.
    Needless to say, none of the above is meant aggressively or as an attack – I still love this place, it’s yours to do with as you please, and I’d probably still visit daily (shaking my head ruefully all the while) even were it devoted to 24/7 Sternblogging.

  • http://www.therevealer.org Jeff Sharlet

    L’Affaire Stern is, if nothing else, provoking a great discussion here of what we mean by free speech and censorship and what we think about corporate power and government regulation. I, for one, hope it continues
    I’d add another element: Today Stern ranted against Bush (taking pains to acknowledge that Kerry is likely as much of a prude and “no better”) by calling for voters to reject Bush’s “religious agenda.” Of course, he’s reaching a bit by bringing Bush into this issue — Michael Powell and John Hogan don’t need the president’s help to practice dirty business and poor ethics — but he’s right in identifying free speech as a religious issue.
    Opponents and advocates of free speech should remember the concept’s origins in theological debates of centuries past. “Decency” advocates are not just arguing for polite speech; they’re endorsing a theologically rooted idea of what speech and what its relationship to authority — particularly divine authority — actually is.

  • dc

    Jim,
    I think you’re missing the point. You’re marijuana analogy would work, but we have to change the laws to “you should not sell ‘harmful’ items to others”. So let’s say you sell marijuana and get busted. “You lay down your money, you roll the dice as he did on a daily basis…and you live with the result”. Ok. Marrijuana is harmful (in this example). Guns can be deemed ‘harmful’… But wait… isn’t candy ‘harmful’? Is fast food ‘harmful’? Do we arrest the clerk at the candy store and the guy working at McDonalsds? What are the rules? Who gets to decide? Where does it stop?
    Similarly, there are no hard rules for what is determined to be ‘indecent’. The rules are written so that anything that is said can be determined to be ‘indecent’ by ‘the powers that be’.
    Stern doesn’t try to push the boundries on the hard rules. He knows the words that he cannot say and he is very careful to avoid those words and also gets mad at his guests when they slip up. But the rest of the ‘decency’ rules are open to interpretation.

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Why now? What happened to make all this come down on Stern now, after, as you say, decades of similar behaviour?
    Why? I’ll tell ya, Skippy. Janet Jackson’s boob was shown at the Superbowl. That woke up THE PUBLIC. Perhaps you’ve heard of them, they’re the jug-eared dullards living in rusty trailers in fly-over country.
    Well…those dopes got together and had the only one who made it past the second grade write letters and make phone calls from the only working payphone down at Jethro’s General store to complain.
    That action made Clear Channel take a good look at their “hot properties”. When they heard a Stern caller talk about F-ing a N-er in the a-s, they thought to themselves…”Damn, that’s kinda NOT GOOD.”
    Now Stern has been taken off the air in few cities, and a bunch of over-aged teens are lighting candles and singing old Joan Baez protest songs. They try to pretty up their outrage by attempting to turn it into a censorship issue, but it isn’t.
    Don’t get upset when someone finally takes out the trash, even the trash that has been rotting away for years.

  • Dan Herzlich

    Jeff:
    It’s amazing what you’re not reporting about Stern. Maybe it’s part of portraying Howard as being guiltless.
    Stern’s assertions today: he started by talking about Korn video showing people tearing about a record store which is not being shown on MTV–this is supposed to show the power of Big Media; about Bush: “This guy’s a madman.” “…put a smile on my face by voting this maniac out of office”; attacks on a senator (that I won’t repeat because they might be libelous); the religious right and the Bush administration are analogous to the rise of Nazism.
    This is the last time I’ll be listening to Stern. Now, he’s really unfunny and worse he has an agenda. I can’t understand those who blindly support him in everything he says. I thought blogs were meant to explore the gray areas, while uninvolved mass media journalists look at stories in terms of black and white. Now, we hear Stern good, gov’t bad, as deus ex buzzmachina decrees.
    Pedagogue!
    DH

  • hen

    hmm stern gets booted off of 6 stations; limbaugh, arguably, is being investigated for “doc shopping” in an unheard of way. Jeff cries about the shutting down of Stern, yet if limbaugh goes to jail or is convicted, he is done completely, yet jeff utters not a word in his defense. hmmm.
    Mr Pot, Mr Kettle, do you two know each other?

  • syn

    From the comments I have read it seems to me that Stern deliberately pushes the envelope of decency in order to raise enough money to pay the fines for all his indecent remarks and then blames his censorship by the government only when a Republican president is in office as it is an easy target!
    The implementation of Speech Codes designed by the Politically Correct Institutions of Higher Learning are the ones going after our freedom of speech.
    The FCC pales in comparison to what our institutes of higher learning are forcing upon our people!

  • http://tvh.rjwest.com HH

    Stern’s apparently blathering about secret groups who donate to Congress… he’s starting to sound like Oral Roberts. I disapprove of all this nonsense going on with him but geez, he makes it difficult to support him.

  • trump

    Offended by Stern? Good for you

  • http://calacanis.weblogsinc.com Jason Calacanis

    What is the focus in our country: Howard Stern, gay marriage and faith-based programs?! What about jobs, terrorism and record debt? What about free speech and everyone being created equal.

  • shark

    Jeff: Please explain to me why the FCC actions against Stern are an attack on free speech, while speech codes prohibiting “offensive or hate speech” that are in effect at universities, workplaces and GOVERNMENT AGENCIES are not an attack on free speech.
    Why or why not?

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    So Stern now thinks he’s being attacked because of his politics. Patriotism: the last refuge of a scoundrel.

  • ronbo

    Honestly, Jeff, this isn’t about Clear Channel propping up Bush, it’s about Clear Channel propping up itself. The company is the poster child for media consolidation and has made more than a few enemies on both sides of the aisle. Its rather haphazard approach to corporate citizenship – not the political sentiments of its management – is what has put the company in the crosshairs in DC and prompted it to offer up Howard.
    I used to listen to Howard all the time when I had a car commute. His show was the only thing that made my commute (and my job) bearable. But Howard isn’t the victim of a grand conspiracy. If anything, he’s the victim of a particularly petty form of corporate ass-covering.

  • KMK

    My research asst. is a student at a local NY college and she sent me this link http://www.sandiegoradionews.com/0150asameness.htm written in 2000 lamenting the death of public radio now that CC has taken over a large share of the market. It put CC at 13% shareholder in 2000. I think John who commented yesterday is right CC probably owns just over 5% now. Interesting to note all the major shareholders have filed a 144 so they could dump their stock at anytime. That’s probably a fallout of the Martha Stewart trial.
    Anyway she also has a theory, CC knew the fines were coming, Stern knew the fines were coming, the FCC told them they were coming and they are manipulating the public into believing their right to speech is on the line in order to boost XM subscription. Stern goes off the air and takes some of his base with him, the FCC looks as if it’s doing it’s job and CC, in both markets, makes money. Everyone wins except the public. I don’t know that I agree with her take on it but I do know it’s being discussed outside the blogsphere. The oddest thing of yet is to see the some of media rally around Stern.

  • Jim

    dc,
    You’re giving yourself way too much room to wiggle with substituting “anything harmful” for marijuana.
    A more appropriate substitute would be “illicit drug.” It’s a more general term which doesn’t specifically name which drug they’re talking about, but even designer drugs which aren’t per se illegal could be covered under the description depending on the interpretation of the prosecutor.
    I can argue with the prosecutor whether or not marijuana is considered an “illicit drug,” but there would be no doubt in my mind (or anyone else’s) that I was on extremely shaky legal ground playing a technicality in trying to defend my point. And if I lost my challenge, then I would have to face the consequences…
    Like I said, you roll the dice…
    I won’t go into the laundry list of things that Howard Stern has said on the air…For one thing, it would violate Jeff’s (and most of his readers/commenters) sensibilities – at least so far as the content of his website is concerned – if I were to do so…
    As a grown-up with common sense, I would assume you know which subjects can be broached in mixed company and which ones are best left for private conversations. Now why on earth would you choose to save some subjects for private conversation? Are there written rules for what should and should not constitute conversation in mixed company? I think it’s pretty safe to say that asking what a person of a particular ethnicity “smells like” during sex would be safely off-limits in such a conversation – especially if that particular question were couched in far more graphic and racially-offensive terms…
    The rules aren’t specific because you can’t specifically nail down every single thing that someone might be inane enough to say on the air. Instead they call on broadcasters and their employees to use a little thing called common sense and to have a little adult supervision lest the government have to step in and do it for them.
    Howard’s lengthy list of transgressions in this area are witness to his complete inability to exercise either common sense or submit to adult supervision. So what choice does the government have? Either laws have teeth or they don’t…
    He’s been warned off the line he’s crossed many times…So it’s disingenuous to claim that the line was vague. It has been spelled out very clearly to him over a number of years where that line was…He ignored it to boost his ratings…
    He made the decision to risk further fines and possibly removal from the airwaves by not altering his behavior, and now people are starting to tire of his refusal to play by the rules…
    Being a rulebreaker can make you popular and help you look cool in front of the other kids in class, but it can also get you expelled when you lack the ability to figure out when enough is enough and the teacher isn’t going to be pushed around any more…

  • http://tvh.rjwest.com HH

    Limbaugh is being attacked for politics more than Stern… If Drudge has it right today, there’s no doubt about that. (Even if he doesn’t there’s plenty of proof.)

  • http://www.beggingtodiffer.com/ BTD Greg

    One thing that gets lost in all this–and certianly something Stern himself never mentions–is the fact that all of this is the result of Sterns producers somehow massively screwing up by failing to hit the “dump” button and take advantage of the tape delay. Rarely, if ever, is it mentioned what was actually broadcast during Stern’s show. (For the curious, one of my co-bloggers wrote about what was actuallly said at our blog. I certainly understand why Jeff wouldn’t want that material published here on his blog.)
    Stern would have you believe that this is because he started speaking out against Bush and asked an interviewee about anal sex (something he does almost daily). In truth, Stern’s production staff let a particularly vulgar vulgarity go out over the airwaves. Everything else is simply persecution complex and conspiracy theory–worth debating, but really debateable.

  • http://tvh.rjwest.com HH

    Yes, it is very very strange why the incident itself is never mentioned.

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    Folks, now I’m coming to Jeff’s defense: he didn’t say anything about it being Bush et al doing it this time, he just mentioned the FCC, and that’s completely justified. It is the FCC doing it, in response to political pressure from the forces of “conservatism”.
    Who just turn out to be largely Democrats and Clinton appointees. This time.
    This is the risk of making it partisan: you end up shooting at the wrong targets.
    There’s another axis at work here: not Republican vs Democrat, but authoritarian vs liberal (in the old fashioned sense: ethically opposed to coersion.)
    Now, how can we fight back effectively against the forces of authoritarianism without hurting the war effort?

  • Jim

    Charlie -
    The answer to that one is pretty simple. It’s the same answer to a great number of questions in a democracy:
    If you feel strongly enough about an issue, then work for the adoption or repeal (as appropriate to whichever side of the debate you find yourself) of the legislation in question.
    Don’t like the FCC’s definition of decency? Don’t like a particular law or believe something about our government should change? Call and write your representatives, encourage others to do the same, etc.
    Savor it…After decades of despotic rule, the Iraqis are just now learning what it means to have the option of doing that themselves…
    Democracy and freedom are truly beautiful things…

  • dc

    Jim,
    “but even designer drugs which aren’t per se illegal could be covered under the description depending on the interpretation of the prosecutor.” That’s the problem I have with the ‘decency’ laws. They are subject to interpretation. A lot of the other tv and radio programs have let slip the “seven forbidden words” with seemingly no consequence. Many of the other “shock jocks” use language that Stern himself will not use. (He has said he’s forbidden to use; I don’t know the history behind that). When the government uses a law that is open to interpretation to selectively enforce the law, that’s censorship.
    I actually think the slipups on network television are worse. With Stern, you know what you’re getting. When you’re watching Paris Hilton on network TV, and she says sh*t a bunch of times, that is much more unexpected, which means that people that are offended by that have a much higher chance of being “exposed” to such actions/behaviours/speech.
    I also don’t agree with your idea that there are things we can say in private conversations that we can’t say in mixed company. According to that idea, I can ask in private if a n***er had taken it in a bad place and that would be fine whereas it would be worse if I wondered it aloud w/ other people in the room. In both cases, I could be considered a racist, the only difference being in the latter situation, more people would know. (Note: I say “could be… a racist” because it seems to be okay coming out of the mouth of a black person as opposed to other types of people.)
    “Instead they call on broadcasters and their employees to use a little thing called common sense and to have a little adult supervision lest the government have to step in and do it for them.” Once again, who’s standards? Who’s common sense? Yours, mine, congress, the president? Why don’t we just make most of the words of the English language illegal. That way, we wouldn’t even be able to express our thoughts which means that people wouldn’t be offended. What a double-plus good Thing! Stern has a huge audience. Millions of people enjoy his personality.
    I don’t think that there should be no rules or standards at all. But forcing Stern off the air is not the solution. We need more conversation, not less.

  • http://www.focusedperformance.com/unfocused.html Frank Patrick

    Interesting. I AM a “NPR-lovin

  • Dan Herzlich

    “I just bought Sirius stock.”
    It’s all about money. Stern is upset because this puts the super-kibosh on his plans to do an interview show on ABC-TV that he’s been pitching. He’s supremely jealous of Leno and he now realizes that he’ll be shut out from broadcast tv.
    His influence on mass media is rapidly fading and he’ll wind up having to settle for whatever deal he can get for doing satellite radio.
    Jeff wants us to defend Stern even if we “hate” him. Notice how Stern stood up for O&A who he demanded to be censored by Infinity, or for the Greaseman who is just as slimely as Stern. And why is Stern still playing the Dean scream on a daily basis?
    The FCC will be reviewing his program tapes starting from 3 years ago, so that they can fine him for the first violation and all subsequent instances. It should a nice hefty penalty.
    But what really gets my angry is Stern saying today that it took 700 hrs for him to get his Tray-O (Treo 600)to finally work.
    Good riddance, Howard.
    DH

  • KMK

    Freedom of speech is also a topic in Beirut.
    A Kiss Is Not Just a Kiss to an Angry Arab TV Audience
    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/05/international/middleeast/05ARAB.html?ex=1079067600&en=ee7a78b04eabc35f&ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE
    “When you are at your house, you can do what you like and nobody should look through the keyhole,” he said, noting that the Prophet Muhammad once declared that you could use a needle to poke out the eye of anyone who tried”.
    Priceless.

  • Harry

    Thank God the government is focusing its energies on Howard Stern instead of being distracted by such minor issues as, for example, the overwhelming evidence of Saudi government complicity in the 9/11 attacks.

  • John

    Jeff –
    Welcome to the world of Sirius stock holders. I’ve bought during a stock offering last June, and while there hasn’t been much am willing to bide my time until the market takes off. But when it does, I think the fact that it comes pre-installed in Ford and other car models will be the prime reason, not so much that Howard or Opie & Anthony or whoever move over there.
    Also, despite his ranting about XM’s partner, Howard might not have a Sirius option if they sign O&A for their extreme talk channel in the AM slot. Infinity had had them on the shelf since the St. Paddy’s massacre, but their contract expires in a couple of months, and they’ll be free to sign with either satellite radio company. The buzz has been Sirius has the inside track, but the question will be would they take the AM drive or the PM drive slot.
    Going to AM drive would make them the satellite alternative on Sirius to Stern, and then the question would be would the shell out big bucks to two sets of shock jock shows that would compete against each other. If the answer is “no”, then when Howard’s pact with Infinity is up, he might only have XM and its Darth Vaderish partner, Clear Channel Communications (cue the theme music!), to turn to as an option.

  • Jim

    dc -
    Here’s where your argument about it being the fault of the decency laws being open to interpretation falls down. One word: Clinton.
    Did he commit perjury? Well…depends on one’s “interpretation”…His defenders claim one interpretation, while his detractors claim another. Yet the perjury law is written very clearly…Ultimately the choice to prosecute is always a choice of interpretation.
    Another example, a man has been killed by another man. What to charge him with? Well…we could charge him with anything from reckless endangerment to capital murder. Who decides? The prosecutor…Welcome to our justice system…And on that particular “interpretation”…a man’s life hangs in the balance…I’d say that’s a lot bigger deal than trying to figure what you are and are not allowed to say on the airwaves.
    Regarding selectivity…Let’s assume there are 10 drug dealers on the corner, and I know that only one of them is selling a significant amount of drugs and he’s the one I’m getting the greatest number of complaints from the neighbors about. Am I being “selective” by shutting him down, or am I dealing with the source of the greatest harm first?
    Once again, the enforcement of laws is a matter of choices…There are limited resources to enforce a large number of laws. In this case, I’m going to guess the FCC decided it had had enough of this behavior and decided to select Howard Stern as a example case for the others to learn from…We call it “deterrence”…
    Law enforcement tools are often used selectively in order to create the greatest possible impact with the smallest expenditure of resources. There’s nothing unique to Howard Stern or even to the FCC in this regard. In short, it’s not a special circumstance at all…It’s just a rulebreaker and the system’s response to having their rules thrown in their face once too often…
    As far as private versus public, I would assume that were you to use such language in private that it would to a person who would empathize with or approve of your use of that language – in other words, they would not find it offensive. After all, why would you use it at all if you reasonably thought your listener would disapprove?
    Here’s where you’re getting very PC on me, and not in a good way. I have a right to say whatever vile, hateful thing in my heart (and so does Howard Stern or anyone else) to a willing listener – off the public airwaves, not within earshot of those who might be offended in the workplace. To claim otherwise is to be for censorship on a level that not even the FCC has contemplated. It might not be politically correct, but there aren’t any laws or rules against being a boor. The alternative is called totalitarianism, and Saddam’s no longer available for duty….
    Therein lies the rub, I’m not talking about my or your particular social interactions. It was simply illustrative of the point: there is a *huge* difference between what would be considered “decent” in a group setting where others might reasonably be offended and would be considered “decent” in private conversation between two agreeable parties.
    With Howard Stern you know what you get? Sure you do…if you’re a regular listener. What if it’s my first day listening to his show? What if I was just flipping the radio dial and I happen to catch one of his most vile outbursts without actually intending to listen to any portion of his show. What if I’m a regular listener, but I feel that *this* time he’s gone too far? Is it *my* fault for listening? What if it was a child?
    (And before you start talking about parental responsibility, TVs are easier to control – they’re stationary, in the house where a parent can exercise control. Furthermore, most TVs now allow parents to specifically block access to certain channels without a password – another safeguard missing on radio. Unless you’re advocating taking away every kid’s Walkman or portable radio and prohibiting them from listening to car radios, etc., saying “it’s the parent’s responsiblity” doesn’t wash with radio.)
    What I find odd is that you seem completely unwilling to even acknowledge that Howard steps over the line (and the corollary that when he does, he should pay the consequences like everyone else). Even if you start with the caveat that the line may be vague in places, you can’t seriously argue that some of the things that come out of his mouth belong on *any* airwaves. Can you?
    It’s not like he broadcasts a parental warning out of every commercial break. That’s not a better argument than saying “as long as all the gratuitous sex and violence is on Channel 5 it’s OK”
    Oh by the way I forgot to mention a couple of caveats there, there won’t be any way to block Channel 5 off your TV from kids because every single TV in America can receive Channel 5.
    Oh yeah, I almost forgot, because of the nature of our new style TV sets, there’s a distinct possibility that you might accidentally catch part of an offensive show as you flip the channels.
    Tough luck? I don’t think so…If you want to listen to it, then pay for it on satellite where the audience is completely self-selected and age-appropriate by virtue of the fact that you had to be at least 18 in order to enter into the contract for the satellite service…
    Don’t expect it to exist where it *does* matter what you say because you *don’t* have any way to know who is and isn’t consuming your “product.” And the bottom line like everything else, what is broadcast on the airwaves is subject to society’s definition of what constitutes decency and what doesn’t…You don’t have a *right* to it, and neither does Howard Stern…
    Regarding “whose interpretation” applies…How about if we just choose any one of the incidents for which Howard Stern was fined in the past? Do you think it wasn’t explained to him exactly why he was being fined, for what kinds of comments, etc.? Now multiply that by the times he’s had run-ins with the FCC…Do you honestly believe that by now he *doesn’t* know?
    If I were to even half-believe that, I would also have to believe Howard Stern’s has but a single brain cell and it’s actually only on loan from the public library, and it’s long overdue…
    He knows…he’s always known…He loves the publicity he gets from playing the victim, and you’re playing his game…I refuse to buy into his victimology, and I will vigorously refute his claim that this has *anything* to do with the First Amendment…it has to do with the rights and responsibilities that come with getting a license to broadcast on the radio waves…Nothing more, nothing less…He hasn’t been a responsible citizen on the airwaves, and now he wants to complain because he’s been called on it…His crocodile tears aren’t exactly convincing…
    You can choose to believe that he’s some kind of First Amendment hero, it’s your right…It just doesn’t make it so….
    I have a saying “No sympathy for self-inflicted wounds.” That’s what this is…And what makes it worse is that he has slowly been unloading his gun into his foot over the course of years. Now he’s complaining as loudly as he can that his foot is bleeding and he professes not to be able to figure out why…
    At what point do you think he’s going to look down and see the gun in his own hand? At what point would you be willing to recognize it yourself?

  • John Thacker

    So, an independent, bipartisan federal agency votes by 5-0 to enforce the same exact type of penalties and fines against Howard Stern as it did repeatedly under Clinton and all previous presidents, and this is evidence of some new policy? Hardly. Sounds like bipartisanship and moderation to me. Stupid bipartisanship and moderation that I disagree with, but certainly no different from before.

  • Andy Freeman

    Remind me – why does the 1st amendment protect Stern’s right to rant about boobies, but not my political speech?
    Is it the boobies, the fact that he’s “media”, or is there some difference between fines levied by the FEC vs the FCC?
    This should be an easy one for Jarvis.

  • John Kelly

    Stern now claims the attacks on him are politically motivated. Since the King of All Media has endorsed Kerry the Bush administration must get him off the air to have a chance in November. LOL
    I listen to Stern and find him very entertaining. Warning to all Stern defenders: Howard Stern is a self-absorbed narcissist. He only cares about himself and his career. He hates any celebtity that won’t do his show, loves all that will, thats the only criteria. Defend him if you must but he doesn’t give a rip about you.

  • dc

    Jim,
    “Clinton. Did he commit perjury?” Seems like a stretch to me. I don’t see how it relates to decency laws. Clinton didn’t get in trouble because he had sex. He got in trouble because he lied about it in the court of law.
    “Another example, a man has been killed by another man. What to charge him with? Well…we could charge him with anything from reckless endangerment to capital murder.” I don’t see how this example applies either. The only reason this example is “interpretation” is because it is a very generic example with no details. The details would determine the crime. For example, if the murdered man was killed because he was about to shoot the man who committed the murder, that would be self defense; It’s not my “interpretation” that the situation is self defense. It’s the “interpretation” of the accounts and evidence of the crime to try to determine what truly happened with imperfect information. If the law were open to interpretation, then the situation would be comperable.
    “Regarding selectivity…Let’s assume there are 10 drug dealers on the corner, and I know that only one of them is selling a significant amount of drugs and he’s the one I’m getting the greatest number of complaints from the neighbors about. Am I being “selective” by shutting him down, or am I dealing with the source of the greatest harm first?” Again, a bad example. A better example would be there are 10 drug dealers on the corner. You have evidence on all of them. One of them is more well known than the others. Even though the other dealers are selling the same amount or even more drugs, you specifically choose to go after the guy that’s better known to “make an example out of him.” You are using the law not to enforce justice, but as a political tool.
    I do understand your argument that the “public airwaves” is not the best place for this type of broadcast. The main issue was technology. “Public airwaves” radio was a unique medium for programming. With the advance of technology, we now have tools like the internet, internet broadcasting, shows like the O’Reilly factor, satellite radio to push content to a more self selected audience. Once these alternate mediums are established, I say let the FCC restrict the “public airwaves” as much as they want, as long as they keep their hands off the other stuff.
    However, I would like to add that Stern mentioned this morning that the FCC wants to get at a piece of satellite radio also. I don’t know if that’s factual, but if true, the FCC really needs to stop meddling around.
    I don’t consider this issue so much as Stern’s First Amendment rights (at least not yet). I enjoy listening to Stern on my morning commute to work, and I’m ticked off that I can’t, as an adult, choose to continue to listen to him because the government started to interfere and may force him off the air. I’m more mad that it’s going to affect my ability to listen to what I want to listen to than whatever Stern may be facing (though the two issues are very closely linked).

  • http://tvh.rjwest.com HH

    By the way, anyone who cheered on CFR and says Stern’s being silenced is a huge hypocrite.

  • AST

    This isn’t the Alien and Sedition Acts.
    It’s a matter of democracy and public nuisance law.
    It’s not prior restraint, because the fines are for his past violations of well-known regulations. In the past Stern has accepted the fines as a cost of doing business, but this ups the ante. He’s trying to make himself a martyr for the First Amendment, but he’s not.
    This is just another indication that people are fed up with having garbage pumped into their homes and cars over publicly owned rf bands. Janet’s nipple was the straw.
    Saying that we don’t have to listen to it is fine for adults, but not for parents who are trying to instill values in their children somewhere above the lowest common denominator.

  • http://www.sidesalad.net Jeff

    Maybe Stern and can raise the money by taking the tape and video of his “anal probe ring toss” episode and setting it up on a pay site. Clear Channel clearly didn’t have a problem with it the first time it ran.

  • BearDogg-X

    IMO, the FCC looks more beholden to the McCarthyist hypocrite groups like the PTC(a bunch of proven liars run by a guy who looks like Al Gore and Groundskeeper Willie’s love-spawn) than to the people. Think about these facts:
    1) Out of 90 million viewers of the Super Bowl, there were 200,000 complaints. That’s 0.2% of the audience that was so “offended” by 3/4 of a second shot of a partially covered breast. Since when does 0.2% have more say than the other 99.8%?
    2) According to The Smoking Gun, NONE of those complaints were filed with the FCC until the morning after the Super Bowl, when the news media showed the Janet clip hundreds of times by then.
    3) As far as Fear Channel and other’s “zero-tolerance” policies goes, Anthony of Opie and Anthony said it best: “Is it really self-policing when there’s a gun to your head?”
    4)Anthony also said this too:
    “One word that was used a few hundred times during these hearings was “protection”. Every member of the committee used the word. Protect the airwaves, protect the American people and of course protect the children.
    Ah, ha! We

  • http://twistedspinster.com/ Andrea Harris

    “Stern is right: the religious right is slowly turning this country into a Taliban-type government.”
    You’re right, bear-dogg! I just had the Knock at the Door — and it was members of the Committee for Public Virtue with my new burka! I don’t want to wear the thing — it’s 85 degrees out! What will I do, what will I do?????????????

  • http://www.elevendayempire.com/movabletype James DiBenedetto

    BearDogg:
    If “Congress shall make no law” is as absolute as you claim it to be, then there ought to be no law against my spending $1,000 to buy a transmitter, and broadcasting on the 106.7 MHZ frequency (the frequency assigned to WJFK, the station that carries Stern in my area), and drowning out WJFK for maybe a mile centered around my house…right? Maybe I want to do my own radio show from 6-11 AM, and present an alternate viewpoint to Howard. Who is the FCC to say that I can’t broadcast on that particular frequency! It’s in the First Amendment, damnit!
    Isn’t that part of my freedom of speech?
    Oh, it’s not?
    The price of having controlled access to a particular broadcast frequency – and the very heavy hand of government enforcement to shut down pirates or anyone else who might try to infringe on or interfere with it – is that WJFK has to follow some rules. Including rules about decency, which have been on the books for decades, and which everyone involved in the industry, including Howard Stern, and his producers, and the people who run the stations he’s broadcast on, know.
    If Howard Stern doesn’t like it, he can take his act, such as it is, to a less regulated, non-broadcast media (like satellite radio. Or selling CDs. Or streaming it over the Internet. Or…)
    He’s not being silenced. And the FCC’s (possible) actions against him are not signs of a coming Christian Taliban regime.
    He’s not a bloody martyr, already. He’s a childish, juvenile narcissist who’s played the game of “Look at me poking my finger in the teacher’s eye!” once too often, and if he does disappear from the broadcast airwaves, it will be no loss to anyone, and no loss of anyone’s rights.