Sunday, May 20, 2007

That Darn Internet!

(First in a continuing series)

Those nasty special interest groups are expressing their opinions, but radio talk show hosts aren't going to stand for that nonsense.

From today's Reliable Putzes:

[Michael]HARRISON [Talkers magazine]: ... But what's really happening is special interest groups are trying to intimidate advertisers to take their money out of talk radio in general, whether it's satellite, Internet, or terrestrial, and that's the underlying cause of all of this. They are trying to create a moral equivalency between rape porn and political satire. And that's a dangerous, slippery slope. And that's the real story.

KURTZ: I agree that there should be a line there.

And go ahead, Michael Medved.

MEDVED: Well, I think that's exactly right. And the problem with all of this is that, again, listening to Howard Stern, he does a bit called "Miss Black Howard Stern". There is nakedly racist material on the Howard Stern show, and actually he's proud of it....

The difficulty with all of this is that we're all subject to an activist taking -- and this is what happened to Imus. They took not the most offensive part of the Imus show in its history, but just one of many, many components that clearly went over some lines of tastefulness.

KURTZ: Michael Medved, has any of your -- have any of your listeners ever complained about you to the FCC?

MEDVED: Yes. There's one listener who has complained about 70 times because I was critical of very public people who had children out of wedlock, and we did a segment called "Celebrity Bastard Baby".

And this was -- now, thank god the FCC hasn't taken action against me. But when you live in a climate when somebody -- one person can be offended and then make a cause out of it, and you don't know where it's coming at you or what's expected, this is very, very difficult. And it's paralyzing for the industry, and it's paralyzing even potentially for political free speech when there are politicians who are talking about imposing fairness doctrines and cutting off political discussion. That's very chilling.


KURTZ: Michael Harrison, you used the phrase "intimidation," that people are trying to intimidate advertisers. Now, Imus, by the way, through his lawyers, is trying to get back on the air either at CBS or elsewhere. But what you would call intimidation others might say is just people expressing their distaste or their revulsion...


HARRISON: Right, they are. But they are taking something that's in a narrow cast situation and, as Brooke pointed out, amplifying it over and over and over on the Internet, bringing it to a wider audience who are outraged by something that they didn't watch, nor was geared to them originally, which is going to take away diversity.

Everything is now going to -- we're going to go back to the "I love Lucy" days, where they have to have separate beds in the bedroom because the whole country is watching it, when, in fact, these are specialized channels, specialized stations. We're in a modern 2007, 21st century era, and this Internet amplification is turning everything into mass appeal by special interests that are purposefully doing that. And we have to keep our eye on that.

Utopia for Harrison and Medved is a world where they make a nice living from expressing their opinions and no one else gets to express theirs, particularly if that expression amounts to criticism of them. And in their reality, more speech is a threat to diversity.

Their real concern is that the great unwashed, with their crappy little home computers, will take away their perches of privilege. Or at least manage to talk back without interference from their call screeners.

Medved's whining about reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine is particularly absurd, since it's government regulation in the first instance which doesn't simply place economic barriers to entry but absolute legal prohibitions to entry. As a result of federal licensing, Medved and his ilk are being subsidized by the citizenry and being protected from competition by licensing requirements. Syndicated hosts like Mikey Medved may have to compete with other wingnuts to sell their programs those who currently own the airwaves, but they shouldn't pretend terrestrial radio is anything like a free market or ideas, or of anything else.

And if Harrison and Medved don't like being revealed for the flatulent frauds they are, they can always bitch to my advertisers.

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