The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: THE F IN FCC STANDS FOR FANATIC: The truth of the supposed uproar over alleged broadcast indecency is that it is the orchestrated roar of a few fanatics.

A few days ago, First Amendment lawyer Robert Corn-Revere gave use these amazing figures:

In 2000, commissioners received 111 complaints about 101 shows. Last year, they fielded 240,350 complaints, most of them about only nine programs, all of which were targeted on the group’s [that is, Brent Bozell's] website.

I have been told by more than one source that the FCC is well aware that the complaints are carbon copies from one or two sources. Do these fanatics with postage stamps speak for America, for you and me? No. But the FCC is letting these nuts drive their campaign against the First Amendment.

Today the Wall Street Journal profiles another such fanatic, a guy who has made it is life’s mission to go after Chicago DJ Mancow. [This is one of the Journal's daily blog-friendly free links.]

Since 1999, Mr. Smith has sent the FCC more than 70 complaints about Mancow’s humor. They have resulted in $42,000 in fines that Mr. Muller’s employer insists he pay. And so far, the FCC, behind in its work, has only waded through his complaints up to July 2002. Half of them are still pending.

“Persistence pays off,” says Mr. Smith, a father of two toddlers who holds down three jobs: school bus driver, policy analyst for the Illinois Family Institute, and church janitor.

Remember another news item on this from from March, when was sued Smith:

The nationally syndicated WKQX-FM (101.1) morning personality is expected to file a $3 million lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court today against David Edward Smith, the Chicago man whose Citizens for Community Values has lodged 66 complaints about “Mancow’s Morning Madhouse” with the Federal Communicatons Commission….

Among other claims, the lawsuit will charge Smith with business interference and filing “spurious complaints” with the FCC that are “repetitive, malicious, untrue, and designed merely for the purpose of harassment [and] to cause [Muller] economic ruin.” …

You see, that is the real story: How even one fanatic can bring down the fury of a government commission without due process and without any real effort to discern what the standards of the community — as opposed to one lone fanatic — are.

[Note: I read the WSJ story on my phone and didn't see at first that it included a reference to Mancow's suit against Smith and so for about a half-hour, this post was wrong and it's now corrected. Apologies]

  • gh

    After what we’ve seen on TV lately from Abu Ghraib, who cares who says “f***”?

  • mike

    It seems these fanatics are adopting the tactics of gun control groups. If they’re not able to convince enough people that their way is right they bring a targetted court attacks against the manufacturer. If they can’t win at the polls maybe they can win in court.

  • TomK

    Hmmm, a rational post about a real problem – fanatics targeting our free speech rights. Interesting facts about “complaint box” stuffing by activists. Overall a good presentation of things I’d be willing to fight against, or at the very least make me vocally support Jeff’s side of the argument. And Stern wasn’t mentioned even once.
    Coincidence? I think not.
    Although Mancow is even more a blatant self-promoter than Stern, if you can believe that. Of course, he doesn’t have the high profile of Stern, so I’m not as sick of hearing his name.

  • charley

    Original editorial:
    You see, that is the real story: How even one fanatic can bring down the fury of a government commission without due process and without any real effort to discern what the standards of the community — as opposed to one lone fanatic — are.
    +++++
    And actually, the events described are an example of just the opposite.
    They illustrte how a government can be responsive to a single citizen’s complaint. Even someone without the large income of “ManCow” or his media backers. The fact that the FCC has investigated the matter – not simply and immediately imprisoning ManCow – further illustrates how the present system allows for the “community standards” to be examined.
    Regards
    Charley

  • Robert

    Howard was fined 1.71 million in 1995 wasn’t
    Bill Clinton president at that time. Where were
    all the personnal attacks against Mr. Clinton ?
    Howard stay out of politics.