The daily Stern

The daily Stern

: Howard Stern’s source in the FCC tells him today that there have been meetings at a high-level in the agency strategizing when to fine Stern based on the impact it would have on the election of George Bush. Some argue that fining him now will make him a martyr and help him rally voters against Bush; others say not fining him will make him look like a boy who cried wolf; others say they should get rid of Stern now because, to their surprise, much of his audience does vote. and he can have an impact on the election.

If that is true, that could not be a clearer violation of the First Amendment: an agency of government using fines for political ends to affect political speech.

If that is true, if any such discussion occurred in the agency, then they should be hauled before Congress or courts right now.

If that is true, what’s the difference between this and Nixon’s enemies list or J. Edgar Hoover’s harassment of civil rights and antiwar leaders?

So let’s find out whether it is true: Stern should sue and subpoena their asses. Or a legislator with balls should call for a hearing.

: I wasn’t going to have a daily Stern today. But damn the luck, there’s news to report. And that’s bad news.

: Stern got on the air today and said he is tired of the fight and never wanted to be the target of such attacks — “I just wanted to make people laugh in the car on the way to work.”

He said the religious right is winning. And they are.

And so he has pretty much decided to pull himself off the air. Now Stern often said such things and changes his mind. He says he is “80 percent there.” But he is not only tired of the attacks but also sees what is happening in Congress, where fines are being multiplied and will go after not only radio stations but also performers. They’re gunning not just for the media companies but also for Howard Stern and Janet Jackson.

Stern will go to satellite, that much is now clear. I have my Sirius stock.

: The big news is that the Senate Commerce Committee passed legislation to impose huge fines on indecency — whatever the hell that is — and more:

Following the lead of the House Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this month, the Senate panel approved increasing potential fines for indecency ten-fold, from the current $27,500 to a maximum of $275,000 for a first-time offense by a broadcaster. The fines can escalate to $375,00 for a second violation and $500,000 for further incidents….

Under provisions passed by the panel, the FCC can double fines for indecent, obscene or profane language or images when the offending programming was scripted or planned in advance, or if the audience was unusually large, such as for a national or international sporting or awards event.

That would encompass entertainment award shows, during which artists have uttered expletives. The bill approved by the panel also would give the FCC the ability to impose the same fines on artists as it can impose on broadcasters, if the on-air talent willfully used indecent or profane language or images when they knew it would be broadcast.

They want to put media companies out of business. They want to put entertainers — and comedians and commentators — they don’t like into bankruptcy and shut them up. They want to censor via fines. Charlie sent me a great link to Classless Warfare, which tallies the damage:

As for the radio fines, this puts Clearchannel and Infinity Broadcasting in a tough spot, especially when it comes to their more popular radio hosts. ‘Bubba The Love Sponge’ was fired by Clearchannel after they were hit with a $750,000 fine by the FCC for 27 incidents of ‘indecency.’ From what I understand, the incidents are counted by radio station. ‘Bubba’ was broadcast on something like 4-5 stations.

Howard Stern on the other hand, is on something like 60 stations. Under the current proposed House bill, if he were fined for 8 incidents, that would be 480 total because it would be 8 for each station. At $500K a clip, Infinity would rack up fines of $240 million! If you were an executive at Viacom (which owns Infinity), would you rather can Stern or face hundreds of millions of dollars in fines every year?

What’s worse is the House bill allows the $500K fine to be applied to individuals, not just the corporations who hold the licenses. Think Sterm wants to get a bill for $240 from the FCC? Hell no. He’d quit first and who could blame him?

The real problem is that many people won’t care. “Why should I give a s*** if Howrd Stern quits or gets fired?” How long before Congress decides the Internet should fall under the same jurisdiction? Think Oliver would keep posting pictures of babes knowing that some dolt at the FCC might determine it’s ‘indecent’ and subject him personally to fines?

: The Senate legislation gets even stupider and more frightening. Getaloada this:

Perhaps most controversial will be an amendment by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) that would impose a moratorium on rules passed by Congress late last year that allow for some media organizations to get larger. The amendment, which passed on a 13-10 vote, directs the General Accounting Office to study the relationship between indecent programming and media consolidation before the new ownership rules can take effect.

Yes, Janet Jackson’s boob was a conspiracy of the evil media-industrial complex! Numbnuts, they’re all numbnuts!

Fritz Hollings amendment is also now part of the bill: It would “direct the FCC to develop rules for controlling violent programming during hours when children are likely to be tuned in.”

But here’s the doozie, folks: By a one-vote margin, the committee defeated an attempt to extend FCC censorship to cable and satellite.

Listen: The First Amendment should prohibit what the FCC already does to TV and radio but, of course, its regulation and censorship is kept in place by the flimsy tissue of the idea that these are the scarce “public airwaves.” Well, cable and satellite are not public property; they are private property. If the government goes in to regulate and censor what happens there, then there is nothing stopping them from regulating and censoring books, music, concerts, comedy clubs… and the Internet.

This isn’t about Howard Stern. This is about you.

: The only good news out of this is that Stern is also thinking about bringing his show to the Internet. He was thinking about what he could do on the Internet — and what he can’t do on radio — and that seals the deal.

So take everything I said yesterday about SternSpace — as an organizing tool — and add so much more that Howard can bring to the medium. He will make audio and video content work and he’ll be the one who proves you can make money with it. This will be great for the Internet.

: Stern’s quote of the day: “They see the public airwaves and say let’s censor them. I see the public airwaves and say let’s liberate them.”


: Stern said that Merrill Lynch has issued a report on what will happen to satellite and broadcast radio when and if Stern switches. He also said that he’s talking to both XM and Sirius.

: I’m no fan of Margaret Cho. She’s no fan of Howard Stern. Stern is no fan of her’s. But Cho just called into Stern to support him and she has blogged her support as well:

am going to be on Howard Stern’s show on Wednesday.

Even though he has trashed me in the past, I have said nasty things about nearly everyone who is living or dead – so f*** it, I am not gonna cast the first stone. I am horrified that our First Amendment Rights are being eroded and that we have less and less of a voice in the media. Dissidents are being charged with breaking the rules. Even the most minor infractions are punishable by monstrous fines and people cannot risk speaking up for themselves because they could lose their jobs…

I don’t listen to any radio. I don’t have one. I listen to hip- hop downloaded from iTunes. Don’t you just love the iPod revolution? But I stick with music and read the news online. I believe that if the content of anyone’s art is offensive to you, don’t listen….

: Ed Cone digs up this frightening quote from an FCC commissioner:

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps (a Democrat appointed by Bush) on radio content, in a 2002 interview with Morality in Media: “I’ll bet if we had a particularly flagrant example, and actually revoked a license or two along the way, that would send a message such as has never been heard to the broadcasting community, that the FCC was serious and that maybe this was going to involve something more than the usual cost of doing business, and perhaps it would even be sufficient to militate in favor of a little different kind of programming.”

See, he does want to program your TV. I say, get your hands off my remote, Copps! [thanks, Charles]


: FCC czar Michael Powell is fretting that the bills being pushed through Congress are going too far and could be, oh, well, unconstitutional.

There are a number of things that give me pause because I don’t want to see enforcement remedies being captured by constitutional litigation,” Powell told reporters after speaking to a group of state regulators.

“Things like three strikes and you’re out, I think is an understandable idea but when you think it through, I can imagine scenarios where it can be more problematic than not,” he said.

Powell also expressed concerns that additional provisions, like one in the Senate bill that would put new media ownership rules on hold pending a review of links between indecency and consolidation, could end up scuttling the bill.

“It just seems to me we’ve probably got a lengthier process and we may or may not get a bill at the end of the day,” he said.


: Jonathan Peterson at Corante’s Amateur Hour says this “seems to be turning into a perfect storm of right-wing reactionaries, monopoly media, and an ill-informed population.”

: I’ve been waiting to see a little libertarian angst and anger over this government regulation of what we can say and hear and finally Reason Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie strolls up to the line (starting with one great line!):

For the want of a bra, free speech was lost.

Well, not exactly, but if the recent actions by the U.S. Senate’s powerful Commerce Committee are any indication, the future of free speech may be hanging by threads as sheer as the ones in a Victoria’s Secret mesh babydoll….

So it turns out that the outraged pols and social critics were absolutely right when they fumed that Janet Jackson’s notorious Super Bowl half-time show nipple-baring really did drive some Americans stark raving nuts. It’s just that they were talking about themselves more than the population at large, which seems mostly willing to move on (after all, there’s a new season of the violence-and-sex-drenched The Sopranos to catch). But for all too many members of America’s political and chattering classes, beholding the slutty songstress’s galvanized aureole was the psychic equivalent of staring directly into a total eclipse of the sun, blinding them with indignation, outrage, and national shame….

How seriously should we take any of this new congressional and regulatory activity? Given the unprecedented level of free expression we have and the ineffectiveness of past regulatory schemes such as the V-chip and past threats of content crackdowns from elected officials, it’s easy to laugh off these latest legislative efforts. At best, they represent election-year pandering and, at worst, they will act as a minor drag on an unstoppable culture boom that gives all of us greater and greater opportunities to produce and consume more and more media.

Yet as Buzzmachine’s Jeff Jarvis reminds us, “Once the government gets in the business of content [regulation]…then there is no stopping them. Slide down that slippery slope. Today, Howard Stern is offensive. Tomorrow, Sandra Tsing Loh on knitting is. Tomorrow, they try to regulate cable and not just broadcast. The next day, they go over the Internet (where, after all, there’s lots of dirty, nasty, offensive stuff). This isn’t about Howard. It’s about you.” If Jarvis seems a bit overanxious, it’s worth remembering that it’s only been a few years since the federal government almost succeeded in applying stultifying content regulation to the Internet. And it’s only been a few decades since such obscene garbage as Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Tropic of Cancer, and Fanny Hill (among others) were fully cleared for publication in these United States.

I’m far more confident than Jarvis that audiences and producers will always be able to route around censorship and regulations, especially the relatively mild sort of restrictions that would eventually pass constitutional and popular muster. This is especially true because technology continues to make it harder for all sorts of suppression. But he’s right to emphasize the underlying logic behind the sorts of legislation and policy that are making the rounds in Washington, D.C. Just because censorship is unlikely to work is no reason not to stand against it in the first place. And in the second and third place, too.

Welcome to the good fight, Nick!

: This has nothing to do with government regulation but…. Michael J. Totten reports that anti-smoking forces want to force NC-17 ratings on movies that show smoking because some find smoking offensive.

See? Being “offensive” is the crime of the century.

: Previous Stern posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

  • hen

    Stern: I see the airwaves and i say let’s liberate them.
    Uh huh – I remember his vocal defense of O&A, Greaseman, Rush, etc. Yeah Jeff, Howard is not doing this schtick for him, oh no, he’s doing it for all those that will follow in his huge footprints.
    Sky is falling, horse has been beaten to death, yet everyone is looking askew at the crazy man carrying on, not saying a word.

  • James Stephenson

    You never answered my question Jeff. You seem to defend attacks on the 1st Amendment, and love the attacks on our 2nd Amendment.
    And this crazy Conspiracy that the Government is out to get Stern is absolutely loony. Soon you will be talking about the Bush Interns that were killed in a Starbucks to keep the secret that the Religious Right has the puppet strings.
    Read what you are typing. You sound like the Black Helicopter folks. I think that yes he may get fined. So what he gets fined every few years, it gets him publicity and more audience. He is playing people like you like a fiddle and you go right along.
    Personally I think he is losing market share and is pulling these stunts to get some back. I mean I got tired of his Shtick years ago.
    I hope this is all an April Fool’s joke, that would be extremely funny. It is March, and I do not know if he pulls any April Fool’s jokes, but this one would be hilarious. Say on March 31, he comes on late and says he is getting fined hugely. Then April 1, he is replaced by some ultra Liberal person who incites his listeners more. People call in and rail about the Station and the government. The next day he comes back and plays some very funny audio from the sheep that fell for the joke.
    Granted Clear Channel did dump him, but I do not think it hurts him to much, he does have what 75 syndicated spots?

  • Jeff,
    You said:
    “He said the religious right is winning. And they are.”
    As Glenn Reynolds pointed out, the vote on the indecency fines was 23-0. It truly must be an insidious conspiracy on the part of the religious right if they have convinced Democrats to vote with them.

  • No

    Don’t bother Jeff, James…he doesn’t like facts. There’s so much he doesn’t understand about the FCC, the Communications Acts, Supreme Court decisions and decrees, the First Amendment…it’s a list almost as boring as the Stern post.
    It would be impossible to list all the intellectual failing of even just this one post, but let’s just go through a few of the most egregious: fallacy of distraction, false dilemma, his infamous ‘slippery slope’ fallacy (“In order to show that a proposition P is unacceptable, a sequence of increasingly unacceptable events is shown to follow from P. A slippery slope is an illegitimate use of the “if-then” operator.”)
    Also, the Stern posts have other logical fallacies: appeals to motives in place of support, appeals to consequence, prejudicial language. Throw in the inductive fallacies: hasty generalization, unrepresentative sample, false analogy, slothful induction, fallacy of exclusion.
    Causal logical fallacies included here are: post hoc fallacy, joint effect fallacy…well, you get the point. Someone should fisk these Stern posts just on the logical fallacy principle…but I’m too bored to do it.
    Professor No….Doctor of Philosophy.

  • There is substantial dissatisfaction within public and private radio, it’s too heavily regulated and consolidated as it is. I’m not surprised Stern would be booted, but it can’t help Bush.
    I always liked Stern, and this attack is so cynical it’s amazing.

  • APEX

    Free speech is a good cause and I am ready to help fight the good fight, but (again) don’t tell me my only option to fight back is to vote for Kerry! It’s just not gonna happen.

  • Mike Rich

    Jeff you have such tunnel vision when it comes to Stern’s arguments. You go on about “if that is true”, but you never once doubt the existence of Stern’s sources at the FCC. What if they’re not true? Your blind devotion to Stern is clouding your intelligence.
    All of Stern’s arguments have been used before on different issues for his benefit. Hell he was saying that he was going to retire when his last contract was up, saying things just like he is “80 percent there.” And what happened, he didn’t walk away, his ego wouldn’t allow that. I don’t mean to get off topic of his so-called censorship fight, but these tired rants from Stern are just being recycled for his benefit. And you’re falling for it.

  • Mike Rich

    And another thing, this is not about political speech. I’ve seen that mentioned in the comments sections about your Stern posts over and over, but you still keep referring to it. Howard’s political speech is not being fined or stopped!!

  • Anon Amos

    Um, Heeeeelllllooooo……Is there anybody even paying attention here?
    The Senate voted 23-0 to increase fines. Some of those Senators were Democrats.
    John Kerry has already said he favors keeping Stern off the air.
    Perhaps Stern would be taken a bit more seriously if he were to stop framing this as Bush Is Evil. Perhaps the folks who are blogging every word of Stern as gospel would do well to take a step back and consider reality slightly more than hype.
    Just slightly.

  • Which is more likely?
    Howard Stern upends his entire career and moves to satellite as a reaction to — fines, which he’s endured his entire career, anyway —
    Howard Stern considers a move to satellite in order to gain even more control his empire (and thus a greater share of its profits); but knowing that his audience will be angry with him for moving off of the public airwaves, he finds an excuse to paint himself as a hero while doing it.
    In any case, the “Religious Right” continues to be a boogey man. In what way are they “winning”? Janet Jackson’s aging boob that nobody wants to see is flashed during a show that children are watching; the Ten Commandments are somehow unconstitutional; gay marriages are being performed with greater frequency; the left continues to believe that the height of sophistication is to drag out and slap around un-influential Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson from time to time; and the major radio markets are flooded with Stern and Stern imitators.
    The only bright spot the “Religious Right” has had lately is that somebody actually made a movie that takes Christianity seriously FOR ONCE instead of making Christians out to be loony nitwits and psychopaths.
    My gosh, if this is winning, I’d hate to see the Religious Right *losing*. :D

  • Jeff, er, I don’t support fining Stern, but is there ONE IOTA of proof that his claims about the politicization of fines aren’t as fake as a pair of breasts on one of the porn stars he has on his show?
    Furthermore, I don’t want to criticize you personally the way some of the above commenters have, but when you rant about the religious right winning, have you considered the possibility that some Americans who aren’t flaming religious conservatives, including socially moderate soccer moms, might have been offended by Stern?
    As InstaGlenn’s dissent from the blogosphere’s Stern backing shows, you don’t need to be a Jerry Falwell clone to find Stern in bad taste. What’s more, you need only have a poor grasp of constitutional freedoms — like most Americans, sadly — to mount the argument that Stern should be “punished” by the government. In reflection of this possibility, your Manichean presentation of the issue — “it’s friends of liberty vs. the fundies!” — really undermines the arguments you’re trying to make.
    P.S. The FCC’s regulatory role may be tissue paper thin according to you, but that’s been the law for years, and you should be talking about changing the law now rather than turning Stern into some kind of martyr figure.
    P.P.S. Could we all get together for a collective hallelujah when Fritz Hollings retires?

  • I’ll repeat: Yes, the action in congress is the bad work of both parties. I’ve criticized Democrats on these issues over the years (I posted recently that I got into a shouting match with the most dangerous man in Washington, Democrat Ed Markey, on CNBC). The legislation is no plot of Republicans. It’s a plot of idiots. However if what Stern said this morning about the FCC is true, then that would be a plot of a Republican administration and it is discoverable.
    Mike: I say “if” for a reason. I don’t know whether it’s true. But IF it is …
    As for the religoius right: They inhabit both parties. But I take the point on “right.” So I shall now refer to them collectively as the American Taliban. Better?
    Matthew: If you’re offended by it, change the channel. Don’t stop me from listening. I’ll say it again: I’m horribly offended by Pat Robertson and his hate speech, but I don’t suggest taking him off the air. I just don’t watch.

  • JorgXMcKie

    If Howard says he knows a guy, who knows a guy, whose sister heard from her hairdresser that the hairdresser’s boyfriend’s cousin is a page in the Senate, and she heard that the Senator’s doctor’s lawyer’s brother-in-law’s cable guy KNOWS FOR CERTAIN that the FCC is getting ready to dump on Howard in a timely manner to facilitate the re-election of Bush, the *I* for one believe it’s true 100% Just show me one, one instance in which something Howard said later proved to be untrue. Anything. Anything at all.
    Pardon me. I’m going out to buy more tinfoil. My current hat appears to be leaking and the rays from the deros are addling my thought processes.

  • Mike Rich

    Jeff, I understand your use of the word “if”. But why do you take the word of Stern when he talks about his source? Maybe it’s just the way I read your posts, but it seems to me that you believe Howard does have sources at the FCC, and you are only questioning what those sources are saying. I think that you’re giving too much credit to Stern to even mention some of his outrageous conspiracy theories.
    And why is it only now that the FCC is influenced by Bush and the religious right? What about all the other times Stern was fined? Just curious what his sources were saying then.

  • Trump

    If you’re offended by it, change the channel. Don’t stop me from listening. I’ll say it again: I’m horribly offended by Pat Robertson and his hate speech, but I don’t suggest taking him off the air. I just don’t watch
    I agree. NAMBLA should have their own morning drive show. So should the KKK. FOX should show snuff films instead of the evening news. People should be able to say Ni**er, sp*c, k*ke, f**k, s**t, c**t in TV programs. And get ready for Gay gang-bang pornos in prime time on ABC! And why is there no live sex on TV???? IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, JUST DON’T WATCH…..

  • Trump

    Truth be told, many people in government and CC have great libel/slander (too tired to care aboutthe difference right now) cases against Stern right now for some of the wild black-helicopter claims he’s been making…

  • Mike Rich

    Howard said he was going to be fined by the FCC on Friday of last week and that didn’t happen. He also said he was going to be fired this week from Infiniti, he has a few more days left, but again it doesn’t look like that is going to be the case. There’s 2 instances.

  • Trump

    : Stern’s quote of the day: “They see the public airwaves and say let’s censor them. I see the public airwaves and say let’s liberate them
    “I see the public airwaves and say “I think I’ll abuse and violate the rules that I knew I had to abide by when I started in this industry”

  • Jeff,
    Thanks for addressing points from the comments.
    I don’t think Matthew was saying he was offended; I would venture to say that his point was that backlash against broadcast is due to all kinds of people being offended, not just fundamentalist Christians. And, that’s probably right..hopefully few of us, of any political stripe, find the subject watermelon comment hilarious.
    Your “change the channel” argument is a valid one. I, for one, would consider throwing out FCC regs on content since the market would take care of it. That being said, in my extremely humble opinion, I feel you’re losing on the “hearts and minds” front by the way you’re framing this. This is about existing regulation and increasing the fines for existing FCC regulation.
    Of course, it’s your blog and you will do as you would like (obviously, I’m here reading your stuff); however, I would be more convinced by a post addressing the history of FCC content regulation with an attendant argument to do away with that regulation in today’s world, versus a series of posts that focuses on setting up Stern as a martyr for finally getting punished for his repeated (and celebrated) thwarting of existing regulation.

  • …he is tired of the fight
    Then he should stop yakking about it and get on with his schtick, because no one is “fighting” him, despite his victimly cries. Oops, that *is* his schtick.
    And so he has pretty much decided to pull himself off the air.
    OOOOH, THE CENSOSHIP! I must flail myself before they flail me.
    Now Stern often said such things….
    I.E., he often plays the victim, and then backs down from his own bluster.
    They want to put media companies out of business.
    By increasing the max fine from $27,500 to $275,000? Here’s hint #1: Infinity has paid millions in fines for Howard over the past 12 years, and not only are they still in business, they still profit from Howard’s offal. Hint #2: every day, Clear Channel spends more than $27,500 on breakfast pastries.
    Your speculative math on fines is interesting. Go here and tell me how many maximum fines the FCC has issued in the past 3.5 years. If you overlook the two egregious cases of Bubba the Love Sponge and Opie and Anthony encouraging sex in cathedrals (can’t we at least agree that crossed the line?), I count five maximum fines in almost four years. Even at the old standard of $27,500.
    13,500 radio stations in this country. And, on average, a little over once per year, one of them gets a maximum fine.
    I’m sorry, I appear to be offering some broader calming perspective here, rather than focusing on the horrid travails of Howard. I’ll stop.
    But I can’t let it pass that you think the fact Clear Channel has grown so huge by media consolidation and FCC deregulation is perfectly okey dokey, yet don’t see how that gives government easier potential to control media. You don’t see how that gives Howard fewer options for employment. You don’t see how large safe corp0rations don’t like to take chances, as opposed to lots of smaller feisty organizations.
    Who will hire Howard after Clear Channel, Inifinity, and Sirius are done with him? Oops, we allowed all the smaller bolder operators to get swallowed up by safe corporate masters who willingly kneel to government pressure.
    Oops, all around.
    They see the public airwaves and say let’s censor them. I see the public airwaves and say let’s liberate them.
    Oh, geez. Yes, let’s liberate them to the sound of our Queef Horns. Anal Ring Toss for everyone!

  • Trump

    But I take the point on “right.” So I shall now refer to them collectively as the American Taliban. Better?

    LOL, as long as you remember to refer to the Democrats as the American Communist Party :)

  • Buzz

    Let’s not forget that it is the government that creates the broadcast market. In return for enjoining me from broadcasting on the same frequency as Howard Stern, or even jamming him, the government regulates that broadcast programming be in the public good. It’s about time that the government is waking up on that point and kicking the Viacoms and Sterns of the world firmly in the butt.
    Will it be the “death” of broadcast as we know it? I hope so. I am tired of billion dollar media corporations whining about regulation when their market exists at public expense in the first place. Let them go to cable, or multicast on the internet. And then let me and millions of like minded citizen broadcasters back on the air. Hell, it could be as big as blogging!

  • P.S. You don’t allow your visitors to use the “F-word” in your comments, yet you let Margaret Cho use it on your front page?
    Have you deregulated?

  • Reid: Oops. Thanks. I meant to hit the button. don’t fine me, please! I don’t want to be another Sandra Tsing Loh!

  • hen

    oh hold on: Margaret Cho supports Howard? well why didn’t you say so. i mean everyone knows that she is not just a constitutional genius but wdn’t hop on a case just to help bash Bush – no way. thanks Jeff you’ve convinced me….that you have gone full circle and are now completely insane. Margaret Cho??? what next: Tim Robbins? Sean Penn? any other first amendment experts out there?

  • Shark

    Is this the same Margaret Cho who used vile and obscene language to describe Pres. Bush while preforming at a Dean/ fundraiser? YEAH, there’s an objective 3rd party you want to quote. Tell me, did she and Stern discuss her drug problem?

  • Eric

    Like you said Mr. Jarvis it’s about idiots…not the Religious right. Because there are people who don’t give a good damn about God, fighting and clawing at this, who want him off the air, lots of PC police my friend are in that drum beating band.
    I like how everything that is happening now is because people believe in God…He is now saying that Bush is going after him and that he “Fears for his life…” or some other such nonsense, I enjoyed his show until he started in on this martyrdom syndrome. Not everyone against him is a Christian, not everyone is a bible thumper, there are a lot of foaming mouth 3L’s in that group, crying because he makes fun of women, minorities and every other group under the sun, he hasn’t been silenced because You, Myself & many others can still hear him gripe on how he is being slammed and gagged.
    You want places where real violations of Freedoms are happening: Venezuela, Cuba, Iran & Syria there you go, because he hasn’t been subjected to any Rights Violations just yet.
    Can’t call them the Taliban either sir, because he and his ilk haven’t been arrested & stoned to death.
    I like how all the worlds problems are all the cause of those Evil Christian’s.

  • nc

    I am trying to be polite, but I think you are living in La La land on this issue. I like Howard, but he is an entertainer not a journalist. Do you really believe this “source” of his. A simple perusal of the FCC web site reveals that only three of the commissioners can be from the same political party. Moreover the FCC is an independent federal agency, its not part of the executive branch, so Bush has no authority over it. The idea that the FCC is engaged in some Bush led political vendetta against Howard Stern makes absolutely no sense. (Quite frankly, I suspect most people in the Bush administration spend far less time thinking about this issue than you.)
    Not one of Howard’s predictions has come to pass, so there is absolutely nothing to lend credibility to his rants. Incidentally, Jeff, what laws have been broken by the FCC and which of Howard’s rights have been violated. Again, I like Howard for entertainment value, but he is a shock jock for crying out loud. He makes a living off making outrageous statements, so I would take some of his accusations with a healthy dose of salt.

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    C’mon, Jeff, where’s the evidence? Where’s the evidence that any of the FCC meeting described actually happened? Howard ‘heard from his source’ — has Howard been particularly notable as a reporter with inside sources before? HOward says it’s about what he’s said politically — but the furor is about indecency, and Howard has been notoriously fined for indecency before. It’s the “religious right” — but the various Commerce Committees have practically passed the new bill by acclamation. Or it’s not the “religious right” its the “American Taliban”, except — American Taliban? Fritz Hollings? (Not to mention that associating “Focus on the Family” with the Taliban is probably cause for action for libel. By the Taliban.)
    Look, you’re a big-time New York executive in the entertainment and publishing industry; I bet, if you tried, Mike Powell would even take your calls, or make an appointment. Ditto Hollings. Even if they wouldn’t, the FCC will take your comments over the phone or by mail — I know: I’ve already sent mine.
    For that matter, Howard Stern would probably take your calls if you tried — c’mon, Entertainment Weekly and the Daily News? Hell, he’d probably sleep with you.
    This is all coming about because of the indecency thing, and thousands upon thousands of complaints in an election year. The answer to that is counter-complaints. Are you doing anything that has a half a chance in hell of doing something effective? Or do you just want to bitch about the “American Taliban”?

  • Trump

    So let’s find out whether it is true: Stern should sue and subpoena their asses. Or a legislator with balls should call for a hearing
    He won’t sue because he knows it’s not true. In fact, based on his wild claims, HE’S the one at risk of a lawsuit…
    Or maybe YOU should mount a challenge to the FCC. I’m being serious here. Get a bunch of industry people who feel the way you do, find a lawyer and file some sort of lawsuit, or friend of the court brief. I agree, throw it into the courts, lets get a definitive answer!
    Lets get this settled once and for all. If you’re such a champion of this cause, how can you do any less?

  • I think Charlie and Trump make a good argument, Jeff. I completely disagree with you, but if you’re going to be “the point man” on this issue via your web site, why not use your influence outside this site to move the issue forward?
    I mean, any one of us can only do so much by writing on the web. You’re in a position to have added influence *outside* the web. If you truly beleive…

  • I’m just another blogger.

  • “If you’re offended by it, change the channel. Don’t stop me from listening.”
    Jeff, no offense, but did you even read what I had to say? Your response leads me to believe you’re making yourself blind to nuance on this issue. I didn’t say Stern offends me or call for censorship, but I did point out that you’re going about this in a nonproductive way.
    Listen, and I’ll say it again: the reason why a bipartisan majority in the Senate could support Stern’s fining, and the reason why Kerry supports it, is because, for good or ill, a majority of Americans would probably support banning Stern from the airwaves. These aren’t just Pat Robertson wannabes, but include in their ranks many moderate people who would probably identify as liberal on issues like abortion on gay rights but dislike Stern because they think the government should promote a “nice” society. (Again, I tell you, soccer moms. Or think Tipper Gore if you want the prototypical non-conservative in favor of censorship.)
    What you need to do is tone down the rhetoric a notch and start talking about why the people who want to censor Stern are wrong. You can wave the bloody shirt of the First Amendment all you want, but as those of us who care about Second Amendment rights know how immune a “concerned public” is to claims of constitutional protection. Instead, engage Stern’s critics and stop uncritically promoting Stern’s vision of a grand conspiracy to silence him, which feels, sadly, Michael Moore-esque on Stern’s part.

  • I would like to thank Jeff for hosting our “Daily Stern Shouting Match.” Really where would we be able to vent our spleens without the blogsphere?
    I would like to discuss Stern’s source in the FCC. I have no doubt that this source exists and that what Stern “reported” was mostly accurate.
    My problem is this. I doubt that the “high level meetings” took place this week. At some point in the last 2 or 3 weeks when it really looked like the FCC was about to level huge fines on Stern, I am sure that some representatives from the Bush Campaign had a meeting with the folks over at the FCC. And I am sure that in that meeting the “high level FCC” folks were ritually beaten by the Bush campaign folks.
    The FCC, by beating on Stern, was going to cause problems for Bush. The Bush folks, reading the distress among a large segment of the American People, rightly stepped in to shut down the FCC before it caused a problem.
    This should not be about politics being bad for our country but politics protecting the freedoms that we enjoy. I am sure that a deal was struck that goes something like this. The FCC will wait until after this bill is passed by Congress and signed (with bipartisan support at the signing) by the President. At that point the FCC will fine many different folks and included in that bunch will be some small fines leveled at Howard. The FCC will get to look tough, Howard will keep his job and the Bush campaign will have averted a small (with friends like these, who needs enemies) disaster.
    And everyone will be happy.

  • Matthew: Good points all and well-said. I guess I didn’t say it so well so let me try again: We cannot find ourselves in a position where merely being “offensive” is enough to be fined and silenced. Who is to say what is offensive? Who holds that power? I don’t care if they think Howard is offensive. They have no right to tell me not to listen, to fine and silence him, anymore than I have the right to label Robertson (or pick any other apparent moral opposite as an example) as offensive and fine and silence him. The marketplace decides by changing the frigging channel. If nobody listens or watches, it won’t be broadcast. (It will go on the Internet, but it won’t be big enough for broadcast.) If enough people do listen or watch, well, maybe those people have some rights and something to say in this as well. We don’t get to pick our poster boys in fights for causes. Howard may not be ideal but I have no problem defending him and his right to speak and my right to listen without GOVERNMENT interference. You may feel similarly (and I have no idea what you think on this; just making a rhetorical point) that Ted Nugent may not be the best poster boy for the Second Amendment. Luck of the draw. Has nothing to do with the underlying issue. Government must not be put in a position to be able to fine and silence anyone because someone thinks they are “offensive.”

  • Mike Rich

    Robert, why do you no doubt that Stern’s sources, remember Howard said he had sources at the FCC, exist? Howard also said yesterday that there were a lot of celebrities that voiced their support to him about this censorship fight, but he couldn’t release their names. Give me a break. Howard does this to give more credibility to a story that doesn’t have much.
    Your rationale makes a lot of sense, but I just don’t see this being as big an issue for Bush as yourself, Howard and Jeff are making it out to be. The three of you seem to be insinuating that the FCC is made up of Republican Party conspirators and that is just not the case.
    The only issue for Howard is how can he manipulate this story enough to generate more support for Howard.

  • MaB

    I agree that Stern is being very hypocritical on this given his non-support for Opie and Anthony. But this doesn’t prove he is wrong about what happened with Clear Channel and what is happening with the FCC. BTW, Stern isn’t the only one saying the FCC is preparing a case against him – I believe the Wall St Journal and the AP both reported that this was in the works. It’s possible that Stern’s comments over the last few days have forced the FCC to consider if they want Stern to become a martyr in the months before the election. Whatever is going on, I’m just glad there is someone besides Paul Krugman smacking Bush around in the national media.

  • No

    It’s all about the ratings. Anyone who knows Stern, knows he loves to be ‘attacked’ by the horrible government authorities…whatever their guise or agency…it’s not paranoia, it’s all about the ratings. Do you think he really believes it? You do, for sure, but does he? It’s working…his ratings are up. But here in Boston Stern is currently getting killed by a local sports radio show! Of a rather conservative bent, too.
    As far as the ‘hate speech’ of Robertson you find so distasteful. Where is that on the dial? And where is the ‘hate’ in Robertson?
    Robertson echoes the Old Testament (and the Koran) as well as the early Purtitans who sought freedom here. That is, God punishes sinners. Sometimes directly (pick up an Old Testament) and sometimes indirectly (e.g. Robertson’s famous point on being punished by 9/11 for our deficient morality. Happens all the time in the OT…and the Koran, by the way. Funny, there is less of this punitive stuff in the New Testament. But any observant Jew can tell you the heat that God brings down on civilizations and cultures (and people) who lack virtue. So, how is Robertson different?
    Robertson (and Buchanan) should be defended along with Stern…and you’d be hypocritical on your position if you don’t agree.

  • Trump

    Government must not be put in a position to be able to fine and silence anyone because someone thinks they are “offensive
    Once again, they’re not censoring for his OPINIONS. Let me ask you. You censor words on this site. F**k, etc. Should Stern be allowed to say them on the air? Yes or no? Explain.
    Standards or no? Pornos in primetime? Why or why not?

  • No

    I’ve begged Jeff before…many times…to read the Communication Acts (their various iterations over the years) and the Supreme Court decisions…to no avail. (Though I do find it very interesting that by my estimate 80 percent of the posters disagree with him…but come here just to argue with Jeff on this–and other left/right issues. Is Jeff trolling for readers? Just as Stern is getting more attention than ever with his ‘persecution?’
    Again, Jeff, here’s how it goes with Communications Act (forget about the FCC…it’s just an instrument of the act.) Licenses are issued or revoked–for a limited term of years, and must be reviewed on a case-by-case–individual station basis when it comes up for renewal. Each TV or radio station using ‘public airwaves’ must PROVE it operates in “the public interest.” (Along with hundreds of other requirements.) As the act says, “the airwaves belong to the people.” No station, broadcaster is immuned from a review, nor from investigation based on public complaints. Simply turning the channel to avoid offense isn’t a defense, according the the Communications Act.

  • Mike Rich

    How come no one has answered Trump’s question about standards? I’ve been reading the comments on this blog about Stern the past couple of days, and that question never gets answered and I’m wondering why. Is it because Trump makes a very valid point that can not be answered without minimizing Stern’s arguments and making them irrelevant? Those who agree with Stern’s argument, are you really for absolutely no standards at all?

  • Dan Herzlich

    Everyone’s citing the influence of the president, congress and the senate but it should be remembered that it’s the judicial branch of government which determines what’s indecent. And, the Supreme Court is the final arbiter when it comes to interpreting the Constitution.
    Howard WANTS to see this case go to the court system because he feels they’ll rule in his favor. The opinion of the majority of American citizens is not the determining factor.
    But Howard will probably not fight the fine because the FCC does have the power to make life difficult for Viacom in doing business transactions, plus Howard couldn’t do his regular show in the interim. In addition to all the legal fees, this all goes to prove what?
    If he’s released from his contract, he should go to satellite radio. The decision that he makes will be what’s in his best economic interest. Stern is no more concerned about the principle of free speech than he would be for some fat, ugly broad.
    BTW, in a most related issue, if Mel’s Passion continues at its current pace, he’ll be grossing $400 million, domestically. He hit upon the right formula: be controversial while siding with the conservatives, and you’ve got everybody shelling out money for your stuff. Why do you think there are so many Rush wannabe’s?
    DH – We’re in the money; We’ve got a lot of what it takes to get along!

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    I’m just another blogger.
    Yeah, and I’m just another geek, but I don’t have any trouble picking out the likely places to complain and complaining there. You’re also an industry executive in Real Life, you’d have better access than I do.

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    How come no one has answered Trump’s question about standards? I’ve been reading the comments on this blog about Stern the past couple of days, and that question never gets answered and I’m wondering why.

    If I had to guess, I’d have to guess the explanation is illiteracy on your part. Jeff has answered in a previous thread, I’ve pointed it out in this thread, and Jeff has answered in this thread:

    Matthew: If you’re offended by it, change the channel. Don’t stop me from listening. I’ll say it again: I’m horribly offended by Pat Robertson and his hate speech, but I don’t suggest taking him off the air. I just don’t watch.

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    Again, Jeff, here’s how it goes with Communications Act (forget about the FCC…it’s just an instrument of the act.) Licenses are issued or revoked–for a limited term of years, and must be reviewed on a case-by-case–individual station basis when it comes up for renewal. Each TV or radio station using ‘public airwaves’ must PROVE it operates in “the public interest.” (Along with hundreds of other requirements.) As the act says, “the airwaves belong to the people.” No station, broadcaster is immuned from a review, nor from investigation based on public complaints. Simply turning the channel to avoid offense isn’t a defense, according the the Communications Act.

    “No”, you’re arguing with Jeff by asserting that he’s not considering the law against which he’s arguing. I agree with Jeff that it’s wrong. (As I said on a previous thread, I don’t know how to convince the Supreme Court, but there’s a number of other things I don’t think the Supremes have been right about.) Jeff has said that he doesn’t think broadcast should have regulated content any more than book content is regulated. This is pretty blunt; I’m not sure what more you need.

  • rick

    Howard, Schmoward. Bring back O & A, they were so much better. Yeah, the church thing was stupid, they really angered me with that one. Stupid jackasses.
    But boy, they were so much better than Howard.

  • daudder

    by the gobv’t: No (you know, as guided by that Constitution, thingy)
    by content provider: Yes, as they see fit (You know, guided by that free market, thingy)
    by the Citizen: Yes, chosing what is acceptable by reading, listening, watching what they want

  • Alex

    The thing that raised set my BS detector off concerning Stern’s “source”, was when he said the source told him one camp at the FCC was afraid that if Bush lost, they’d all be out of work.
    Please correct if me I’m wrong (and I have no doubt people will), but aren’t the FCC jobs independent of any particular administration? The people there now are the same people who were there under Clinton and were the same people there under Bush I (retirements notwithstanding). I have a hard time thinking anyone at the FCC, much less “high ranking officials”, is concerned about President Kerry cleaning house upon his election.
    I like Stern’s show, but he has been absolutely unlistenable since this started. He has a good case against the FCC in general (vague rules, inconsistent enforcement), but burying it under goofy conspiracy theories and bogus free speech arguments just makes him look stupid.

  • nc

    Uh, the update about Michael Powell sort of proves the point that Howard’s credibility on the FCC fine is a little suspect.

  • Ryan

    “I like Stern’s show, but he has been absolutely unlistenable since this started. He has a good case against the FCC in general (vague rules, inconsistent enforcement), but burying it under goofy conspiracy theories and bogus free speech arguments just makes him look stupid”
    Stern can’t be a martyr if his opponents don’t want to crucify him.
    Shit that was the title of one of his albums.

  • Yeah, why does Michael Powell being reasonable merit a “HEH!”??

  • Hubris: Because Powell is the one who started this, wanting to multiply fines by a factor of 10. That started the stupid spiral and Congress only added to it, possibly dooming the bill he wanted. HEH and HEH again! Couldn’t happen to a nicer censor.

  • Mike Rich

    speaking of which, in Howard’s Crucified by the FCC, he mentions that he is not looking to say f*** on the radio. He was fighting against the rather vague indecency rules.
    I do agree that if you don’t like something you can just turn it off. And Jeff makes a valid point when he says that what offends someone else may not be offensive to him. But then why does Jeff have standards here that must be followed or you’ll get booted? Why not just let everyone write what they want and let the people decide if they want to visit the webpage?

  • Why not just let everyone write what they want and let the people decide if they want to visit the webpage?
    Jeff has said that he does not want this site to get blocked by the various filtering programs out there. You see, schools, libraries, etc. have to run that type of filtering software, to guarantee some minimal level of decency standards in those publicly funded and controlled environments.
    I think the government mandates it. And Jeff doesn’t want to get blocked (hmmm, is that government pressure to censor content?). That’s the price you currently have to pay to have your content fully publicly accessible in those situations.
    Of course, eliminating all decency standards and the agencies that enforce them (like the FCC) would cure all that.

  • submandave

    OK, looks like the argument falls into two camps:
    1. There should be some minimum standards of “decency” concerning broadcast media (Trump & No, et. al.)
    2. There should be no standards of decency (Jeff & Charlie, et. al.)
    The second camp’s position relies upon a faith that market forces will drive the media to achieve a level of decency comissurate with public sentiment. However, is public broadcast media truly a free market? If there were no FCC licensing requirements one might say so, but do we really want “whoever can shout the loudest” to be a significant factor in broadcast?
    If one subscribes to the long-standing position that the public airwaves are a public asset that is entrusted to government to execute custodianship over, then there must be some basis upon which the government discriminates between competing companies when deciding to whom a license in a given market will be granted. The current basis, as set forth in the licensing agreement, is serving the public interest and agreement to comply with standards as set forth by the government. Given that government has this responsibility, this does not seem an unreasonable guideline.
    If you don’t think this is right, then the way to address it is by changing the law vis-a-vis the FCC. Frankly, I get tired of everyone trying to wrap themselves in the First Ammendment whenever someone else doesn’t like what they say. Granted, coming from a government agency makes it more important to critically look at the case than if it was some private citizen, but there are many legal basis upon which it has been deemed that speech is not protected. Libel, false advertising, fighting words and, yes, “dirty” words are included in non-protected speech.
    If you want me to take seriously Howard’s tin-foil-hatted rantings then I suggest you offer to me one example of anyone expressing similar political opinions whose non-political content is dissimilar from Howard’s but is also being persecuted by the FCC. In the absence of a single other anti-Bush persecution I apply Occam’s Razor and say that if Howard is being targetted it is for the stated reasons of indecency. To argue that increasing the fines for indecency is a great violation of free speech and censorship implies that there are certain opinions that cannot be expressed in anything other than indecent language. This is pure hogwash.

  • Anne

    Hey, if these FCC threats are creating a chilling factor — true or not — among radio and television producers, I’m all for it.
    And forget about changing the channel and the marketplace ruling — it’s almost impossible to find any television shows — any — any time of day or evening that don’t segueway into crude jokes about blow jobs and the like. And that’s true of shows geared to children and pre-teens.
    It’s one thing if that’s what you’re looking for. That’s fine. It’s another thing if it’s impossible to avoid. And that’s the way it is now.
    I’ve listened to Howard. He’s crude and everyone knows it. I don’t even have a problem with him; he’s easy to avoid on the radio. There are still standards on the radio, for the most part.
    I just can’t get behind this campaign of yours, Jeff. The pendulum has swung too far in the direction of broadcasted crudity. It needs to swing back a little the other way.

  • HH

    I’m sure that Cho will next rally to the defense of the National Debate against the New York Times…
    Also, as an aside I’m wondering when Josh Marshall will make his outraged post about Al Franken, considering the kerfuffle over the WaPo and “talking points.”

  • sol

    Howard’s OK. But when he starts his shows nowadays with things like: “When 3000 people were dying where was Bush? He was reading a book to school children.” and he says it in dripping, disdainful tones there’s nothing else to do but to turn the dial immediately. Who can listen to that? It combines so many things: ignorance, dishonesty, self-serving opportunism, dangerous use of the bully pulpit (considering he seemed to understand Bush was doing an important job in the war on terror before all this), etc., etc.
    And please let’s put an end to the cliche that Howard is honest. “He’s real. That’s his one thing, man. If he’s anything he’s honest.” Yes, in narrow ways he is, he likes to get people on the air who are unaffected or straight-forward with eccentric views and he let’s them do their thing without shutting them up and getting politically-correct on them and etc., but regarding matters of his own self-interest he’s as honest as a used car salesman with gambling debts.
    [this was earlier posted to an already bipassed Stern update: there’s so many!]

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    Jeff: “Powell is the one who started this,….”
    Uh, Jeff, I don’t think this is true; certainly there’ve been a lot of complaints about how Powell hasn’t been acting fast enough, and that other FCC looney’s comment long predates anything Powell said about it that I know about.

  • Charlie (Colorado)

    If there were no FCC licensing requirements one might say so, but do we really want “whoever can shout the loudest” to be a significant factor in broadcast?

    I don’t think this quite follows: for example, the FCC could regulate and license bandwidth, and just have no authority to regulate content. (I’ve suggested a “homesteading” scheme elsewhere in the comments that would lead to this.)

  • Trump

    Because Powell is the one who started this
    I’m sorry, I was under the impression that a bunch of irresponsible broadcasters at the SuperBowl started this….my bad.

  • Trump

    Howard’s OK. But when he starts his shows nowadays with things like: “When 3000 people were dying where was Bush? He was reading a book to school children.”
    The best reply to that is to ask where Kerry was. At least Bush made it to ground zero…we’re still waiting on Kerry
    Basically, Stern has read Al Frankens book and swallowed it like the intellectual pygmy he is

  • John

    It will be interesting to see what the March Arbitron ratings for the Stern show look like if Howard continues in the current vein. I would guess that he got a significant spike in listenership at the time of the original action by Clear Channel from occassional listeners and others who wanted to hear the reaction. But (as has been mentioned in posts on other threads) his continued harping on this without any further action by the FCC (the bi-partisan action in Congress is a different story) is beginning to make Stern come across as the 21st Century’s version of Lenny Bruce in his final days.
    Howard remains a ratings leader in AM drive, but he’s no longer THE ratings leader in his hometown of New York — he’s been passed in the ratings by a Spanish language station and by another Infinity station, all-news WINS. If he decides to make the current Bush rantings the cornerstone of his show for the next 7 1/2 months, even the No. 3 spot may not be secure (though given the two shows in front of him, he could try having Robin announce the news in Spanish to see if that provides some sort of ratings boost).

  • Dan Herzlich

    Anne: I generally agree with you about TV content, but I don’t think censorship will serve to improve the quality of the programs.
    DH – Just Molly and me, and baby makes three, we’ll linger in my blue heaven.

  • button

    Clear Channel has announced that they are developing the technology to put decency-sensitive shows on a five-minute delay which will give them sufficient opportunity to sanitize the content to meet their requirements.
    Once they have that in place, they may revoke Stern’s suspension and bring him back, but more under their control. And he won’t have anything to complain about anymore.

  • sol

    Howard’s biggest miscue is to paint himself into a vehemently anti-Bush corner. This alone will lose him enough listeners to make anything else he does a mute point. If just a third of the people in his audience are like me and they’d not be able to take more than a few minutes of an Al Franken/Paul Begala/Michael Moore hosting a 4 1/2 hour radio show then Stern is cooked. He sounds like them now, and actually an even more annoying version of them. He’d always played it smart with the politics, but he’s blown that now.

  • h0mi

    So the truth comes out.
    Stern was content with letting Infinity foot the bill over the past decade, but since it hits his own pocketbook, that changes things.
    I don’t see the problem with the fines, especially the increase of them, and applying them to individual DJs. My problem is that the rules are vague. Again, “What” is indecent. Playing a “your first potty training session” casette is? Peeing on your leg after a jellyfish sting joke on Friends is not? What’s the difference? That’s the real problem, and one that little is being done to address.
    So take everything I said yesterday about SternSpace — as an organizing tool — and add so much more that Howard can bring to the medium. He will make audio and video content work and he’ll be the one who proves you can make money with it. This will be great for the Internet.
    Like his movie, his CDs, the DVDs for the show, his web site… (yawn). In that creative genius mind of his, with all these projects, the best he can do is a remake of Porkys?

  • anne.elk

    Totten has a comprehension problem and a research problem, and it seems you may too.
    Why pile on another blogger’s silly statements when you have google?
    Did you read the article that Totten linked to?
    “No one is saying there should never be any smoking in the movies,” Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said Tuesday at a press conference at Hollywood High School. “What we’re simply asking for is that smoking be treated by Hollywood as seriously as it treats offensive language.”
    Glantz doesn’t find smoking offensive. He finds it dangerous to children.
    Did you then try to find out more by simpling googling the author’s name?

    Best Comeback Oscar: Movie Smoking — Movie Smoking Back to ’50s Levels By Daniel DeNoon WebMD Medical News

    Feb. 27, 2004 — This year’s Oscar for best comeback: smoking in movies.
    Movie portrayals of smoking dropped by more than half by the early 1980s. A steady increase since then returned smoking to historic highs in 2002 movies.
    The findings come from analysis of randomly selected, top-grossing U.S. films by Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco. Their report appears in the February issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
    “In the real world, smoking has returned to levels observed in 1950, when smoking was nearly twice as prevalent in reality as it was in 2000,” Glantz and colleagues write. “The pro-tobacco influence of the high smoking levels in recent movies will continue to be a pro-tobacco influence on teenagers for years to come unless remedial action is taken.”
    Why might this be a problem? Earlier this year, a Dartmouth study reported evidence that half of all teens who first try cigarettes do so because they saw it in the movies.

    If you accept the premise that kids are influenced by movie smoking, and if you believe smoking is a health problem, and addictive, and an economic drain on society, then you might believe that since smoking is not first amendment protected speech, than you might come to believe that smoking is different than profanity.
    If so, some or all of the author’s recommendations may make some sense.

    They urge “remedial action” to counteract this pro-tobacco effect on teens. Glantz is director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. The center’s web site calls for four actions:
    * Give an “R” rating to movies that show smoking unless it’s a historical portrayal or unless it shows smoking to be harmful.
    * Movies should certify that neither the production nor anyone involved in the film accepted money from the tobacco industry.
    * Require any movie showing smoking to carry strong antismoking ads.
    * Stop identifying tobacco brands in movies.

    I think the “R” rating my be justified and at least provides for an interesting debate and not just casual dismissal as you and totten have done. I think it’s completely reasonable to ask that movie producers do not accept money from the tobacco companies, and that movies stop identifying tobacco brands.
    Since I know you find profanity offensive and dangerous to your son and to your relationship wth him (I agree with your view of this btw) that you ban users of profanity from your site, I am surprised that you are okay with increased, gratuitous, and pandering use of cigarettes in the movies, including movies that are aimed towards children including 102 Dalmatians and many movies targeted toward teens.
    If Totten told you to jump off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff?

  • Eric

    Yep, but he says the spainish speaking community shouldn’t count because they are spainish speakers…or something like that, heh…

  • jbm

    Jeff, instead of putting those long lists of previous Stern-related links at the end of each of these posts, you might want to create a Stern category and generate a category archive. That way you could just put a single link to the category page at the end of the post and not have to maintain that list by hand, as I’m assuming you’re doing.