The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: LET’S CALL IT WHAT IT IS: CENSORSHIP: National Nanny Michael Powell addresses cable execs and one of them — at last — talks back.

Oxygen Media Inc. CEO and founder Geraldine Laybourne criticized the FCC’s enforcement effort during the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn.’s (NCTA) annual trade show.

“I don’t think we should use the word indecency; we should call it what it is: censorship,” Laybourne said Tuesday during one of the show’s panel discussions….

“I don’t agree with that,” Powell told reporters after his dialogue. “For 70 years, the country has had limits on broadcast television. To me censorship is prior restraint, and I don’t think anybody has been involved in that limitation on content.”

Well that’s a lie. Read the news, Chairman Powell: The evidence of the chill you have put on media is everywhere.

: WILL YOU FINE THE HERO, POWELL? The same story continues with something that should put Powell on the hot seat: The FCC has now ruled that a single utterance of the F word is now officially profanity and should be fined. So will they fine the family of Iraq War hero Pat Tillman?

The remarks came as News Corp. executives were worrying about the possible fallout from a memorial service for Pat Tillman, where his brother reportedly used a version of the word “f—” twice. The service for Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinals safety who was killed while serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan, was carried on some News Corp. cable channels and was broadcast on at least one News Corp. station, according to the executives.

“Who would have thought you needed a seven-second delay at a memorial service,” one News Corp. executive lamented. “We’re worried about it.”

Powell declined to say whether the commission would investigate the broadcast of the memorial service.

“We respond to complaints,” he said. “This isn’t some discretionary activity being administered by the agency because it feels like it. It’s a response to the American public.”

When asked directly about the Tillman memorial service, Powell declined to say whether the broadcast was considered indecent or not.

“I will never sit here and do hypotheticals about whether something is liable or not,” he said. “Our process has never been different. If we receive complaints about a broadcast, that will be investigated and a decision will be made, I think, responsibly.”

Well, then, someone should complain and then the FCC will be forced to fine a war hero’s family.

That, you see, is the position this idiotic move to censorship has put us in.

Hit Bono, hit the hero.

: NO FAINT PRAISE: On his show this morning, Stern thanked his audience for sending in now 1,900 complaints about Oprah to the FCC. He also said that even though he was glad the New York Times came out on his side of the fight for the First Amendment this week — as well it should — he is sick of seeing that support for him in media always comes with a grudging, ‘well, we have to defend even Howard Stern.’

So let me repeat here what I said in my story in The Nation (just to drive you anti-Sternies nutsier):

But it’s not just about sex and the religious right. It’s also about political correctness and the left. We live in an age of offense. The cardinal sin today is to offend; the clearest badge of victimhood is to be offended. Sadly, I hear some refuse to defend Stern and his speech because “he offends.” Well, the First Amendment is often defended on the backs of the offensive: Larry Flynt or the KKK. But I won’t lump Stern in with them. For, judged in the whole, Stern is not offensive.

Let me tell you why I am such a Howard Stern fan. Until I reviewed his show for TV Guide, I had heard the same snippets, quotes and characterizations you had. I thought he was best taken in small doses. But after listening to him for a few weeks, I discovered that, to the contrary, he is best taken in large doses. For then you discover that Stern is charming, likable, decent, funny, a talented entertainer, a great interviewer, and–more than anything–honest.

Stern is an antidote to all the overpackaged, smiley, phony, condescending pap of personality in American media and entertainment. In an age of predictable news (shouldn’t news be just the opposite?) and political correctness and numbing national rhetoric, Stern cuts through the crap and says what he thinks–and what many of us think. And that is incredibly refreshing. No, it’s liberating.

Howard also quoted Rudy Guliani asking publicly where Howard’s political friends are now. They should be there fighting for the First Amendment next to him. Media certainly should be.

: Here’s a Christian Science Monitor puff piece on Powell.