Trade Publications or Puppets?

In this calm, so far mild Washington winter, in the doldrums between the voting out and the swearing in, it's not exactly the season for table-pounding editorials about government officials who need to resign. Don't tell that to Advertising Age magazine, which has just published a tantrum in black and white by a man named Simon Dumenco demanding the resignation of Kevin Martin, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

The rationale for Martin's resignation? He had the audacity to enforce the indecency provisions of the Communications Act that created his agency.

If Dumenco wants to play Donald Trump and fire assorted government officials that bring him displeasure, perhaps he shouldn't start with Mr. Martin, who is merely enforcing the law as it stands. Memo to Mr. Dumenco: If Martin refused to enforce decency provisions, then he would be in violation of the law.

When it comes to the newly enhanced fines that Hollywood hates, perhaps Dumenco should first call for the resignation of the almost 400 House members and the 99 or so Senators who voted for them. Then he should call for the resignation of President Bush, who took the legislation approved by virtually everyone in Congress (and when was the last time that happened?) and signed it into law.

There's more Mr. Dumenco could do, if properly motivated. He could call for the resignation of the Supreme Court of 1978, which upheld the FCC's duty to enforce indecency provisions for broadcasters. Liberal lion John Paul Stevens wrote for the Court majority that children are "uniquely accessible" to broadcasters, and that curse words were out on the distasteful periphery of First Amendment concerns. Maybe he should step down?

So what in the world is Dumenco's beef with the head of the FCC? "Kevin Martin has proved time and time again that he's all about serving his special interests, not the interests of the creative community — and certainly not those of the average American consumer. Which is why he's gotta go."

To which one responds that Mr. Dumenco has a funny sense of where the majority lies, and who are the special interests — and that's the problem. In fact, it goes beyond Dumenco and Advertising Age, and on to other trade publications, from Broadcasting & Cable, to the Hollywood Reporter, to MediaWeek, to Multichannel News, and so on. These publications have no interest in serving the public. They are pandering to their subscribers in the "creative community." They are so beholden to the entertainment media that they've become glossy press release services for Hollywood.

Multichannel News recently ran an editorial by author Frederick Lane declaring, "The time has come to strip the Federal Communications Commission of its jurisdiction over broadcast indecency." He said the FCC should butt out since it's been outdated by technology. Restrictions on broadcasters, he says, aren't consistent with "vibrant democracy," in which parents who don't like the state of broadcast TV should just buy DVDs for their children and shut up.

Lane was also interviewed at length in Broadcasting & Cable magazine with softball questions, such as "Is it dangerous for the government to try to regulate morality?" Lane spun imaginative visions of an ultra-powerful Brent Bozell (that's me, folks) calling Karl Rove at the White House on matters at the FCC, ordering him around like he was a stable boy. That cozy interview was conducted by the magazine's reporter John Eggerton, whose blog routinely channels a pro-porn, pro-cursing, pro-anything goes viewpoint.

Eggerton recently offered his cheers for NBC's Studio 60 attacking the FCC in a preposterous plot about a crackdown on cursing that aired on the news in a war zone. "Studio 60 is pretty darn preachy, which is no surprise for an Aaron Sorkin production, but fortunately for me it's my favorite sermon." He said he wanted Sorkin to write all his snappy comebacks at conservatives. But wasn't the show a preposterous cartoon of the evil FCC vs. heroic broadcasters? Eggerton wrote Sorkin was putting on "a Christmas show, so he can be forgiven for a little Christmas dreaming."

When these magazines write about indecency issues, the public should view these outlets skeptically, as pro-industry mouthpieces. Need we remind the titans of Tinseltown and their advertising and journalistic toadies in Manhattan and elsewhere that the airwaves belong to the people? They are not the sole province of champagne-sipping sybarites who have no greater cause in American life than the precious right to choke fat obscenities down the gaping mouths of grade-school children.

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  • Guest

    If “Cursing is creative”, and “Porn is art”, then chocolate is a vegetable.

    Studio 60 isn’t chocolate, creative, or art, it’s about the free expression of whatever crosses the ultra-liberal Sorokin’s mind to make him a boatload of money.
    And at that task, he is successful. The cost may just be more than we can pay.

  • Guest

    “in which parents who don’t like the state of broadcast TV should just buy DVDs for their children”
    They should be careful. I’m one of those parents so our household has no cable, satellite or even antenna for our TV. Instead we have a collection of prescreened videos and DVD’s for the whole family. They want their freedom to do whatever they want, we have used our freedom to eliminate broadcast TV from our home.

  • Guest

    BRAVO ekbell! In my house, as from the very first of my own house, the only ‘one-eyed monster’ around was 1) me before coffee of an AM or 2) this screen on which I am reading our words.

    Without TV, my wife, daughter and I had to get to know each other, usually over reading or talking together or homework or Rosary, and some of the childhood games that permit the family to have fun and get to know each other. BTW, my lifetime record at Candyland stands at 33-762, including my Grandpa career. I’m not very good at getting double-color cards, but wondrous at getting that first-out-of-the-gate ‘go to this character’ card. It got so that I insisted on shuffling, wondering if my daughter was picking up tips somewhere on ‘magic’ shuffling.

    Of course, such ‘isolation’ comes with costs. At some social gatherings, we had no idea what people were talking about, of TV offerings. And, when we took our three-year-old to see ‘Bambi’ – I had never seen it before, myself – my late wife insisted at the winter foraging scene – ‘Pick Helena up! – so, I did. Then Bambi’s Mom got hunted down, and my daughter burst into tears in my shirt. I was so shocked-and-touched myself the tears rolled down my face. After we left when the movie ended, my wife looked at me from her car seat next to me and said, of perpetual memory, ‘It is so easy to love you.’

    But seven years afterward, as suddenly as for Bambi, Helena would lose that loving lady as her home-keeping, Helena-embracing Mom. I wonder if that Bambi scene ever comes back to haunt her in her grief . . . (It sure does, for me. Like, right now . . .)

    I remain your obedient servant, but God’s first,

    Pristinus Sapienter

    (wljewell or …