Michael Powell can kiss my Constitutional ass

Michael Powell can kiss my Constitutional ass

: In today’s LA Times story on Howard Stern’s move to satellite (via IWantMedia), there’s this maddening bit:

FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell, who has spent quite a bit of time policing Stern, suggested that his departure from the public airwaves might be a good thing.

“Satellite radio is one of the many technologies that the commission is strongly promoting to expand the diversity of choices for the American public,” Powell said in a statement. “It is not surprising that notable performers and journalists are turning to a medium that allows them to paint with a broader palette.”

Cut to the essence: This is government meddling in content and free speech.

The reason Stern is leaving broadcast is because of the harassment and fines from the FCC. The FCC forced Stern off broadcast to satellite.

Forget Powell’s efforts to act as if this is about a natural evolution of media. It is the direct result of Powell’s own actions.

And that’s not the way things could be. It is none of Michael Powell’s — or the FCC’s or Congress’ or the White House’s — damned business to manage and manipulate what the content should be. That is speech and it is meant to be free and is protected by the Constitution.

  • billg

    I think Stern is an exploitive slimeball who draws his audience from the drug-addled cretans who always seemed to be four years behind me in school, but Powell’s remark is a wonderful example of classically transparent doubletalk. The FCC has no business attempting to influence content, even less so as an obvious element of this administration’s social agenda.
    Otoh, that $500 million payday from Sirius should help ease Stern’s angst.

  • Jeff: Your right in the sense that it’s the government meddling in what is said but its important to point out that Howard Stern is using the airways supplied to him free of charge by the American public. There are laws against pornography and libel and inciting a riot the same as there are against cockfighting and whiskey making, so as long as Howard is making a dime off the airwaves owned by the citizens he is obligated to follow the laws just like I am. So if he is guilty of violating FCC laws then so be it. Let him move to a PRIVATE network where he can do as he please. Its really no big deal..its smart business for him but its not some revolutionary move thats changes the course of history. Its just a guy looking to increase his margins.

  • mistercalm

    You feel public use airwaves should have no boundaries? Howard Stern should be able to say absolutely anything? If there are obscenity guidelines already established and the FCC finally decides to actually follow through with punishments set by these guidelines is that not correct and legal, if not a bit late? I thought that obscene speech was not protected speech in that any idea can be expressed succinctly in other language. I’m of the impression that Howard Stern is completely aware of the limitations on obscene speech on the public airwaves, but since he’s enjoyed impunity from the laws governing this for so long now he feels persecuted. Wouldn’t the public airwaves simply then be a free-for-all with no language restrictions? If that is indeed what you’re suggesting, then I disagree (without obscenity, I might add).

  • daudder

    Isn’t this a case of government regulation and the “markets” working, and the impact technology has in creating new opportunities that benefit society?
    I think the FCC overreached in a blatently partisan political move. But also that Howard Stern is now able to continue. Like HBO, I think that the freedom and power of “private” media will prove a boon to freeedom of expression and creativity…beacuse there is a huge market for both.

  • So it’s a choice between government meddling and a Slimeball Hero of the Culture War? Golly, maybe I’m getting reactionary. I seem to feel more contempt for Successful Slime than for Michael Powell’s “government meddling.” There’s a puritanical side of checkered me that I adore.

  • howard moving to satelite was a huge win for powell who now doesnt have to explain why he fined howard and not oprah.
    if powell was any sort of man he would go on howard’s show and explain himself. but he’s not. he couldnt even “blog” for more than two posts.
    powell in no way wants to make the fcc rules clear because then it couldnt bend to the whims of the republicans in power.
    ive never seen anyone make howard stern look better than the actions of this fcc administration who would have easilly won the biggest hemmoriod contest if they had entered.

  • Ryan

    It was worse when his mug appeared on Mon Nite Football at halftime to hawk HD tech.

  • Mike

    You’re way off base here Jeff. The reason Stern is leaving broadcast is so he is free to say f*ck, c*ck, cum, and describe his obsession with sex in great detail. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against it, but it shouldn’t be available to everyone. That’s why kids can’t go into the local general store and buy Hustler or rent X-rated movies.
    It’s also a very lucrative deal for him, don’t tell me he is some high and mighty martyr who is being forced off the airwaves. That is a load of crap. Howard is only and has only done these things for Howard’s wallet, that is why he is going to Sirius.

  • bush-flipflop.com, new site with videos of bush flip-flops
    There’s a new one today that shows a Cheney flip-flop related to his assertion in the debate last night that “I have not suggested there is a connection between Iraq and 9/11” …

  • mike,
    regardless of whether howard will make money by going to sat radio, he most definately is being forced off the “public” airwaves that he has dominated for 20 years.
    its completely wrong that a guy who is the number one morning radio personality cant keep doing what he has been doing because we have a tyrant-in-cheif and an uncle tom fcc commish.
    sure howard wants to say f–k. but he doesnt need to in order to be rich, famous, and groundbreaking. the issue has never been howard’s desire to curse. the issue recently (during the last four years) has been the fcc’s desire to keep the rules vague and to increase the penalties so high that if they wanted to they could personally bankrupt a very rich man.
    only a fool would put himself in the position to get fined millions by an agency who feels threatened by him and desperately wants him to go away.
    howard may be many things, but a fool he is not.

  • JohnO

    So the radio waves are soon to be similar, if not identical to t.v. where the basic (i.e., “free”) content is censored while the pay t.v. (or radio) isn’t. I’ve got no problem with that.

  • HE

    Tony – how is Stern being “chased off”? He is saying he no longer wants to play by the rules where he made his name and fortune and with the advent of pay for radio, he is going to make an even bigger fortune.
    Yep he’s no fool – he played the martyr, got the two main players to bid against each other to get him, he’s gonna be able to work less, and less intelligently, and pocket a fortune. Hell he should be thanking the FCC. The idea that a 50+ yr old man doing the same routine about strippers and porn stars is valuable to a radio station is to me mind boggling.
    I only regret that he isn’t on XM with O&A so they can tear him a new one every day.

  • stern is being chased off by legislation that will fine a 20-year radio pioneer for breaking vague rules.
    it’s completely unfair, regardless of whether stern lucked out and has an option to do his thing somewhere else.
    the thing is, he has played by the rules for years. it is the fcc over the last few years who has changed the rules and blurred the line so that oprah mysteriously doesnt get fined for the same thing that howard gets popped for.
    now they have jacked up the cost of the fines and who pays them. to me thats running a guy off the road. its unamerican, and its nothing to poo-poo just because you dont like the talk show hosts style.
    o&a would be pumping gas if it wasnt for stern, fyi.

  • Hunter McDaniel

    I despise Howard Stern, but I have to support Jeff on this issue. For better or worse, there is no longer any generally agreed-upon definition of obscenity in the US. And believe me, there are a substantial number of lefties who, given the opportunity, would gladly censor what they consider ‘racist’ or ‘sexist’ or ‘homophobic’ commentary, up to and including mainstream figures on the right such as Rush.

  • hunter,
    i beg to differ. the closest a “lefty” ever got was tipper and the pmrc who only asked for offensive or sexual lyrics to be labeled so that parents would know what they were buying their kids.
    everyone, including myself, was concerned, but indeed it turned out that they were not trying to censor prince, madonna, and n.w.a, but were sincere.
    plus lefties know that blowhards like rush are only unhealthy to themselves.
    if you have actual examples of lefties acting otherwise id like to see it.

  • billg

    Free TV isn’t censored. No one is submitting scripts tp government bureaucrats. The networks put on programming they believe will make the most money. Editing content is not censorship. If you want to see Stern on primetime free TV, call up a sponsor and tell them.
    Powell is simply using Stern as a punching bag to score points with Bush’s proto-fascist base. Most people won’t distinguish between a defense of Stern’s right to speak freely and what he actually says. As a result, he’s a safe and easy target because very few people are going to rise to defend Stern’s right to serve up scatalogical stew to their children.
    That said, Stern’s right to free speech doesn’t include the right to an audience. He’s using the public airwaves to attract an audience and money. He’s not using the public airwaves to engage in free speech.

  • Andy Freeman

    > It is none of Michael Powell’s — or the FCC’s or Congress’ or the White House’s — damned business to manage and manipulate what the content should be.
    No, it’s the FEC’s, and that’s fine with Jarvis, because the FEC ignores media. The FEC only restricts political speech by not-media.
    You remember not-media – they’re the folks that Jarvis goes running to with “it’s the first amendment” whenever Stern talks about boobies.
    There’s nothing wrong with Stern, but if you think that he’s got a significant first amendment problem, you’re wrong.

  • Cartoonists are posting stuff en masse to the internet, free of the restrictions of newspapers. Is that the Michael Powell’s fault, too?
    Are newspapers putting limits (“censoring”) comics because the government tells them to, or because their readers tell them to? The government doesn’t regulate that content, but there is still an audience that expects some standards of decency, despite all of the talking-from-a-vacuum opinionating that there is no such thing any more.
    I love Howard Stern’s show. He’s a funny guy. But this is a big whine. A great, big, fat WHIIIINE all the way from properly restricted public airwaves to a juicy deal on a satellite station, that is now having to raise cash like crazy to fill Howie’s coffers. This is nothing about censorship, and everything to do with his over-inflated ego and his overly emotionally-involved fans.

  • J.R.

    tony, please, you have to be kidding about those on the left and censorship. Have you been to any college campuses lately? The left dominates there and they have imposed some of the most stringent speech restrictions in the country. Nowadays if you say anything that might be offensive to anyone in earshot you can be brought up on charges, even if you are not talking to them. There are plenty of examples on blogs like critical mass, number 2 pencil, noindoctrination.org, among others. So stop sounding all high and mighty.
    As for Stern, I agree with those who have mentioned this already, this move is all about his ego and his desire for money. He is not being forced off the air, he is choosing to leave.

  • dh

    forget about all this martyrdom talk–it’s all about money. Jeff, why do you fret so much that Stern isn’t making enough mooooola?
    However, Stern’s profiteering is nothing compared to companies like Enron and Big Pharma. Soon these won’t have protection from the Bushies.
    Jeff, if you don’t come out for Kerry now, you’ll lose a tremendous amount of credibility post-election. Why do you find it easier to lionize Stern?

  • This isn’t a 1st Amendment issue because no one ever took away Howard Stern’s right to stand on a street corner and spout whatever idiocy he wants.
    Being on the radio -public or satellite – is not a constitutionally protected act and acting as if it is a fundamental misunderstanding (or intentional misstatement) of the 1st Amendment.
    By accepting an FCC license, he agreed to abide by the decisions of the FCC. There are plenty of groups I disagree with, plenty of careers that would require me to do things I find unpleasant or distasteful. Guess what? I make other choices. That’s what individual responsibility is all about.
    Howard made his choice, and there’s no conceivable notion by which his decision to accept the broadcasting license has any bearing on the 1st Amendment. I refuse to cry for anyone who can’t live up to the terms of an agreement he voluntarily entered into. Boo hoo! Howard broke the rules, and he has to pay for it. So what?
    Howard got what he wants most: headlines…He’ll get more publicity by pulling outrageous stunts that violate the terms of the license he accepted between now and 2006…Big deal…
    It’s much ado about nothing about a radio personality whose time has long since come and gone…

  • Jeff-
    My memory being what it is, I probably have posted this before.
    We have two options with respect to the public airwaves. The first is to return to the golden age of radio where the government didn’t assign frequencies and didn’t have much say over how broadcasting was conducted. Under such a condition, we could legally be watching the Pam & Tommy sex video being broadcast immediately following the evening news. The Paris Hilton video would of course be the first in the prime time line up for Must See TV. The 10 o’clock hour would then be spent with a Fourth Reich special on how to oppress minorities. Who knows.
    The second is for the government to intervene, grant licenses, and generally make sure that the content meets certain guidelines. That is what we have now and Stern certainly crossed the established boundaries in an unacceptable manner.
    I think reverting to the first option might be interested as more people would be inclined to cut the power cord on their TVs. Television rots the mind.
    But since we are currently using the second option, I see no reason not to expect the FCC to enforce the rules as they are written.

  • h0mi

    the thing is, he has played by the rules for years. it is the fcc over the last few years who has changed the rules and blurred the line so that oprah mysteriously doesnt get fined for the same thing that howard gets popped for.

    Back in “ye good olde days” Friends had an episode where the group joked about urinating on each other to “cure” a jellyfish sting. Or was it a sting from a stingray? Either way, Stern bemoaned the fact in a long anti-FCC rant that took place long before Bush ever became president- 1997.
    The rules never changed; the FCC has always behaved in a way where they reacted towards complaints. If no complaints were lodged against TV shows, they’re not going to be fined. But remember, there’s always been an effort by people who hate Stern to get him off the air so it’s not a surprise really that anything he says gets complained about.

  • HE

    breaking vague rules – geez i’ve never had a radio show and i am pretty sure if my guest was talking about performing cunnilingus on a black woman (but of course telling the story in “street lingo”) i wd soon realize that this is a good time to use the 7 second delay.
    Stern has throughout his career been fined and fired. To all of a sudden climb on his cross and decry the Bush administration is laughable.
    I give him credit, he is smart: He knew he wanted out of commercial radio, wanted to drive up his value for a different medium and wanted to score points with all his hollywood lib friends – viola! Moan about Bush! Brilliant!
    Stern, Mr Protector of the 1st Amendment said not a word in defense of O&A when they got fired; openly hoped that Rush’s deafness wd be complete and he wd be off the air; and refuses to believe that radio can survive without his particular brand of genius.
    I guarantee you that Sirius will not recover from this brilliant move of hiring this mental midget.
    Oh and by the way – while Sirius in a few short years bemoans hiring Stern, O&A will be eating his lunch on XM. Mark it down.

  • h0mi makes a great point in that none of this is new for Stern.
    It occurs to me now that his happiest period was during the Clinton years not because he wasn’t being fined and censored, but because he was the center of the universe at the time, at least in his mind. The age of Monica made him the perfect media star. Who could argue Howard Stern’s relevance when the most pressing issue of the day was a semen stain on a red dress?
    This may be a crazy theory, but it’s almost as if he’s sulking because the war on terror has upstaged him. His marriage over, and his flattering auto-biographical movie forgotten, he’s no longer the center of the universe as he sees it.
    In all the time I’ve listened to Stern, I’ve picked up on that one trait: he’s unwilling to be second best at anything. That drive can lead you to the top, but he doesn’t know how to turn it off.
    How does Stern deal with the satellite deal if it doesn’t work out the way he plans? What if this backfires, and he slips further into irrelevancy? How does he accept failure, when he doesn’t have Michael Powell to blame? Or will Powell be blamed for “forcing” him off the airwaves?

  • rance

    How much is the FCC going to nail ESPN for the NASCAR “vulgarity”? I find it disturbing that NASCAR altered the results of a sports event because of a slip of the lip. I suspect that NASCAR drivers may become hesitant to talk on-camera in the future.
    Will the other sports follow? Will the PGA add strokes to a players score card for remarks made in the clubhouse after the round is played? How long after the conclusion of a game/match/tournament do we have to wait to find out if the results are final or subject to revision?
    To revise Yogi, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over and MLB has review all the tapes of the clubhouse interviews.”

  • why the long face? lemon face.