I tried to get on the list of witnesses testifying before the Senate Commerce Committe’s Jan. 19 hearing on decency. I was told by people who know such things — D.C. attorneys — that it would be futile, that they invite whom they want to invite and whom they want to hear. They were right. It was futile. I faxed and emailed Sen. Frank Lautenberg (because, post-anthrax, the mail doesn’t get through) and his staff. I sent along the op-ed I wrote in the largest newspaper in Lautenberg’s state, the Star-Ledger, just to let him know my views — views that are not being represented in these hearings. And I made it clear that I have experience as a critic, editor, and media executive.
Nothing. My senator did not even give me the courtesy of telling me to fuck off.
And today, they announced the witnesses they chose to hear. B&C reports:
The hearing will be divided into two panels. The first will feature Jack Valenti, former president of the Motion Picture Association of America, who has been charged by Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) with helping come up with a new program ratings system.
Also on the stand for hearing number one are EchoStar Chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen and Comcast Executive VP David Cohen.
Stevens has said that if the multichannel video industry does not sufficiently self-regulate content, Congress may have to step in. Comcast is one of the companies that has already announced a family-friendly programming tier in response to pressure from Washington.
Four indecency-related bills are currently before the committee, including one raising FCC fines and another mandating per-channel cable pricing. The cable industry, which is not subject to FCC indecency enforcement, is trying to head off per-channel pricing through family tier initiatives like Comcast’s.
The second “decency” panel–the committee doesn’t use the term indecency to refer to the issue–features National Association of Broadcasters Joint Board Chairman Bruce Reese; Parents Television Council President Brent Bozell; CBS Executive VP Martin Franks; Screen Actors Guild President Alan Rosenberg; and Jeff McIntyre of the American Psychological Association.
So they decide to hear from Brent Bozell, the self-appointed chief prude of America who keeps defrauding Congress and the FCC — and, above all, the media — into thinking that he truly represents the community whose standards they have decided to set. The dickless media executives who have caved to FCC and PTC censorship are heard. This shrink on their side is heard.
But there is no one from the other side. There is no spokesman for the audience or for the First Amendment.
There is no free speech about free speech in Washington because Washington can’t hear.
The scandal here is that Washington acts as if it listens to and represents the people by holding these hearings. But the people are not welcome.
: Here is the letter I sent to my senator, Lautenberg. Be warned: The who-is-this-guy paragraph is obnoxiously filled with tooting of my own horn but I wanted to make sure I presented my credentials in full. And here is the Star-Ledger op-ed I write and sent to Washington.
: QUESTION: How do I file a FOIA request with the Senate Commerce Committee? I can’t find any instructions online.