Posts from November 20, 2004
On second thought, take that shrimp off the barbie
: Shocking news: Australians are fatter than Americans. That’s doubly shocking because they have better beaches.
Criticizing the FCC
: Now here’s the third post quoting critics going after the FCC — at long f’ing last. The latest is James Wolcott (and quoting Jim always causes such… ahem… interesting comments):
In my book, I called for the toppling of Michael Powell at the FCC, whose arrogant, anti-democratic meddling becomes more autocratic with each inflation of his neck size.
I was thinking too small, which is unusual for me.
Jeff Jarvis has a bigger, better idea: abolish the FCC. Get rid of the whole busybody, bureaucratic shebang.
This is a call which can unite liberals, conservatives, and true libertarians–in short, all those who believe the First Amendment and free speech aren’t outmoded ideals that can be breeched whenever some bully behind a desk chooses to exercise his prerogatives and grab face-time on the news. Michael Powell has become a glutton for attention and it’s time to starve him and the rest of the white-collar censors.
Amen, brother it criticism. Let’s say it again: This is a call that [sorry... once a copy editor, always a copy editor] can unite liberals, conservatives, and true libertarians.
Chop suey commentary
: Frank Rich writes Chinese menu columns: He slaps together one thought from column A and one thought from column B that don’t belong together. And, yes, an hour later, your brain feels empty.
In his column tomorrow, he starts bemoaning the FCC’s censorship and the chill that brought 66 stations to preempt Saving Private Ryan.
Merely the threat that the F.C.C. might punish a TV station or a network is all that’s needed to push them onto the slippery slope of self-censorship before anyone in Washington even bothers to act. This is McCarthyism, “moral values” style.
But then, because the F words came in a movie about war, he tries — pulling from column B — to make this an issue not of government censorship but of the prowar Republicans. Get it? A movie about war was censored while we’re at war and so this must be a Bush coverup.
Can you say non sequitur?
Media on media
: I’m going to be on Brian Lehrer’s WNYC show (which I always enjoy) on Monday at 10:40 to talk about the FCC and all that. The show’s blog post on the story here.
: My interview with Bob Garfield on On the Media is up now here. They do a good job of editing down a longer chat into its key bits. Transcript up soon.
: Here’s audio of my appearance on David Lawrence’s show. He’s a good guy who’s also fighting this good fight.
: I’m supposed to have a perspective piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer tomorrow on the future of blogs, post-election. I’ll link to it when it’s up.
The national nanny
: Tom Shales gives our national nanny, Michael Powell, a well-deserved critical lashing in tomorrow’s Washington Post. Tidbits:
Oops. They got rid of the wrong Powell. The father unfortunately is going, but the son, even more unfortunately, remains behind…..
Staying in office, however, and capable of wreaking havoc in American broadcasting until 2007, is Colin’s son Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission and definitely not a force for good in America.
Pompous and imperious, an ideologue who believes unfailingly in his own philosophy of how TV and radio should work (the FCC also has domain over telephone and emerging broadband technologies), Powell ignores or condemns anyone who opposes him. Though FCC chairmen have labored mostly in obscurity, Powell has managed to make himself famous; he’s the Torquemada of the insane campaign now being waged against “obscenity” on the airwaves….
In fairness to Powell, the commission’s two Democratic members, Michael J. Copps and Jonathan S. Adelstein, have been among those pushing for not only fines but license revocations when stations violate the still-vague obscenity rules. They are idiots….
We stand at the top of a dangerously slippery slope. When you start leveling fines for uttering certain words, the list of the verboten is bound to grow. We could be facing four years of even more paranoia than usual about Big Brother, much of it justified….
Powell belongs at the bottom of the barrel [of FCC chairmen] with the lowliest of the bunch. He is an agenda masquerading as a man, the proverbial pompous ass and, worse, a genuine threat to freedom of speech.
Shales also passes on our little FCC scoop (and says something nice about a former TV critic).
Old news is no news
: Has anyone else noticed that the headlines on GoogleNews are getting very stale? It’s not as if the editor got tired; it’s a computer. I used to be able to check in to find the latest. Now I find one- and even two-day-old headlines.
: I quite liked this description of democracy (lower case) in Jeremy McCarter’s review of the play Democracy (upper case) in the New York Sun.
The new play shows how democracy-the system of reconciling irreconcilable goals-operates in Germany, and in Germans. We are each of us a democracy, the play argues, a mass of conflicting perspectives, divided loyalties, contradictory motivations. Brandt himself is charismatic but brooding, moody, and various. “So many people, with so many different views, and so many different voices,” he muses. “And inside each of us, so many more people still, all struggling to be heard.”
That’s how I felt before the election: red voter on one shoulder, blue voter on the other, confused voter in the middle.