The daily Stern
: Go to RightWingNews.com now and read a very important post on Stern and your freedom. It’s not just me or the liberal vanden Heuvel, below. It’s a conservative issue, too. It’s the First Amendment, stupid.
But when the government decides to step in and wipe people like Stern off the map despite the fact that they’re popular, despite the fact that they’ve been on the air doing their shtick for more than a decade, conservatives should care. I say that because next time the government might decide to step in and start leveling huge fines on WEBSITES that they decide are “indecent” or radio talk show hosts who they decide are only presenting one political point of view and therefore aren’t being “fair”.
Thanks for this, Charlie. More later. I am posting this on my Treo from church.
: And, yes, I quite enjoyed the idea of blogging that from church. I don’t see the slightest irony.
: Dan Gillmor adds his views, saying that this is and isn’t censorship:
It clearly is censorship, disguised as something else, when Congress starts passing laws aimed at stifling speech. An orgy (can I use that word?) of blue-nosing is upon us, and it’s more than a little scary.
It’s theoretically not censorship, however, when a Big Media company like the abysmal Clear Channel pulls Stern off the air after discovering that the hit show (which I don’t personally like at all) has “indecent content.” What’s really indecent here is Clear Channel’s sleazy behavior — its removal of Stern amid Congressional Victorianism, not to mention the odd coincidence that the company, whose senior executives are strong Bush supporters, just happened to pull Stern off the air right after he announced his opposition to Bush’s re-election.
And there are serious First Amendment questions when you consider the pernicious connections between Big Media and Big Government these days. Forget the indecency laws for a moment. Even without them, Clear Channel is beholden to government — the FCC — for its very existence. It’s beholden to Congress and the White House for its ability to consolidate a big part of the radio industry into its own greedy paws.
Jeff doesn’t think media consolidation is the issue. I say it it’s part of the issue.
First, Dan and I agree about the problems of government control of speech; that’s what scares me.
Second, I haven’t answered the consolidation issue, which has been raised in the comments.
I understand why those who believe it is an issue believe that — because when a big company such as Clear Channel can do this, the impact is all the greater, the chill all the colder. And there are fewer alternatives for a Stern to go to once one big company kicks him off.
But if I’m in favor of market control and against government control on speech, I’m also of that opinion on consolidation. I believe the market will handle this. At some point, Clear Channel will grow too big (if it hasn’t already) and once radio takes a nosedive (because, oh, say, Stern goes to satellite and music fans go elsewhere to get their music) then Clear Channel — by virtue of its oversize and lack of diversity — will be particularly vulnerable. The market will tear them down. Mark my words.
In the end, the problem with Clear Channel isn’t that it’s a big company but that it’s a bad company.
: Another question from comments I haven’t answered is, do I have a problem with campaign finance limitations as a governmental interference in free political speech? The oversimplified answer: Yes. We’re all disgusted with the influence certain special interests have on politicians, quite disproportionate to their representation of the priorities of the populace (I’ll bait the hook with the NRA, for example) but I also believe that if I wanted to give $10,000 or $100,000 to a candidate of my choice, it should be my choice. Just to answer your question.
: Ed Cone on Clear Channel.
: Rush Limbaugh changes his tune. When Clear Channel pulled Stern, this is what he said on his show (sorry for the caps — somebody buy Drudge a new keyboard!):
‘I’VE NEVER HEARD HOWARD STERN. BUT WHEN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GETS INVOLVED IN THIS, I GET A LITTLE FRIGHTENED.
‘IF WE ARE GOING TO SIT BY AND LET THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GET INVOLVED IN THIS, IF THE GOVERNMENT IS GOING TO ‘CENSOR’ WHAT THEY THINK IS RIGHT AND WRONG… WHAT HAPPENS IF A WHOLE BUNCH OF JOHN KERRYS, OR TERRY MCAULIFFES START RUNNING THIS COUNTRY. AND DECIDE CONSERVATIVE VIEWS ARE LEADING TO VIOLENCE?
‘I AM IN THE FREE SPEECH BUSINESS. ITS ONE THING FOR A COMPANY TO DETERMINE IF THEY ARE GOING TO BE PARTY TO IT. ITS ANOTHER THING FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO DO IT.’
Oh, but that was before he heard that this could be about politics and his boy, George. Now he write a piece in the LA Times switching course to defend George.
He also concedes that he is carried by Clear Channel himself.
Someone might have also told Limbaugh that Stern hates him and even after Rush defended Stern, Howard remained consistent in his disdain for Rush.
Note my relief at no longer being on the same side on something as Rush. Whew.