Is Clear Channel a House of Congress?


Katrina vanden Heuvel is making the bizarre claim that Clear Channel is "trampling on the First Amendment" because it yanked Howard Stern. So, the obvious "huh?" component is that, as KVH surely knows, there are many charges one might levy against a private broadcaster's content choices, but offending a constitutional provision that binds only Congress (and, now, the states) ain't one of them. The deeper weirdness is that, to the extent that there is a First Amendment issue here, it's with the chilling effects of the FCC's post-Janet-boob zeal. KVH is surely correct that Clear Channel execs have no deep personal problem with trash talk if it brings in the cash, but she glosses the FCC angle to spin a "follow the money" theory that has Clear Channel's CEO spooning with Dick Cheney on cold evenings. How about "following the money" the other way, to the hefty indecency fines the agency is empowered to levy?

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  1. What’s bad about Katrina Heuvel’s claim is the ‘cry wolf’ effect. This kind of thing dilutes the force of justified complaints against government First Amendment violations.

    Why is it that luminaries on the left seem to have these amazing lapses of logic so often?

  2. Gloria out-evils Katrina. First, she’s a lawyer who would sue the sun for rising in the morning. Second, Katrina is at least easy on the eyes.


  3. The problem with Katrina vanden Heuvel is that SHE’S A FREAKIN’ IDIOT

  4. Shortly after 9-11, vanden Heuvel was on a talking head show exulting over the polls that Americans’ trust in “their government” had risen to the highest levels since the 1950s. Because of the terror attack, she gloated, the Era of Big Government was back. Clearly, NPR liberals and neocons are on the same page about some things.

  5. The FCC Angle: finally, a responsive government!

    Janet Jackson was the tipping point for a whole slew of people who had never complained about the soul-numbing indeceny that has taken over popular entertainment.

    THIS time however, they wrote letters, called congressmen, and emailed their friends.

    THIS time however, the reprasentatives of the people actually listened to them.

    The FCC has been falling down on the job for 30 years. This is long overdue, and is just the beginning. At least, several million parents who still care about their kids hope so…

  6. Does anyone else think Gloria Alred looks like the evil queen in Snow White?

  7. Mirror mirror on the wall who’s the flakiest one of all?

  8. Katrina and the folks at the Nation helped construct a text book for use with polisci 102-102 students detailing the evils of corporate media and their chilling effect. As a solution, they touted the Indymedia Org. which is famous for its intellectual diversity of left, far left and radical left opinions.

  9. “Katrina vanden Heuvel”

    Sounds like a perfect name for a high-society dominatrix.

  10. “The implications are alarming. If Clear Channel can yank the commercially-successful Howard Stern, then it has the power to silence any DJ or radio kingpin who refuses to play the network’s chosen music, adhere to its appointed standards, or mouth Clear Channel’s political line.”

    Imagine that? An employer having the ability to fire an employee for violating company work standards on the job! The sheer naked power of it all!

    But seriously, if the public does not like or trust Clearchannel’s editorial policies, they have the opportunity to give their ears to Clearchannel’s competitors or not listen at all. If Clearchannel’s hurt enough in it’s pocketbook by listeners tuning out, it’ll change it’s policies, or die. Of course, if enough of the public likes what it’s hearing then nothing changes. This, perhaps, is the outcome Katrina most fears.

    Also, vanden Hueval ignores that, for someone who has been “silenced”, Stern still has a lot of megaphones at his disposal. If I recall correctly, Stern was only on six Clearchannel stations, I believe he is still broadcasting on 100’s of other outlets.

  11. Still, pretty interesting that the two biggest markets now in near Stern blackout are two major election swing states: Florida and Penn. Coincidence or no, a pretty lucky thing for Bush.

    And you can’t help but be disturbed by how much power this incident seems to imply the government has over radio. CC has done a complete 180 on shlock they’ve broadcasted for years in response to nudgings from the government, not from their own change in convictions. The fact is, because the government regulates radio, it can make or break deals in the industry, and influence who and what owns various slices of the public airwaves. While I could see radio turning into a national monopoly someday, that would still be preferable to an industry that has to court politicians to sign off on their every local buy/sale.

  12. It’s the “blame the Corporations first” crowd!

  13. I love this line, ” currently, Clear Channel and Viacom control approximately 42 percent of America’s radio audience.” I wonder if I’m part of the 42 percent and I don’t even know it.. I need to get out my tin-foil hat.


    a) Katrina vanden Heuvel


    b) Gloria Alred

    Write-Ins allowed.

  15. One vote for Katrina.

  16. I’m surprised that Hillary Clinton isn’t one of your options. That’s my write in.

  17. I vote for Andrea Dworkin, for convincing young college women that their sexuality is a political statement, not a personal feeling.

  18. Gloria all the way, but with Hillary as a running mate.

  19. Only the state can trample my first amendment rights and censor free speech.

    Now, we can talk about collusion between private corporations and the bureaucracy, but that’s something different.

  20. Another snippet in the same vein. According to the UK ‘Daily Telegraph’, Brit Home Secretary David Blunkett met this week with deputy AG Jim Comey in order to discuss ways to shut down certain internet porn sites. Given that Blunkett is by far the most authoritarian home secretary since WWII, expect to see a proposed fiat that ranges just a little wider than any UK knee-jerk reaction would normally warrant. “We agreed that we would put our heads together to get some action on the issue,” said Blunkett. Just what this means for the US is unclear, but no doubt the FCC is already looking into the matter.

  21. The point isn’t that Clear Channel yanked Stern, or whether they have the right to do so (they certainly do). The point is that the FCC has the ability and prerogative to make it incredibly difficult to do business if it so chooses.

    Clear Channel most likely got the same kind of message Mel Karmazin did when he was fined while trying to purchase stations: pay the fine, and the paperwork goes through; resist, and the paperwork might get lost.

    It’s the government deciding which speech is “free,” and forcing companies to exercise their right to hire and fire so they can stay in business and remain profitable.

  22. And you people call yourself Libertarians!

    Clearchannel is not removing Howard Stern because of any business decision, his ratings are quite high after all, but purely because they are being leaned on by the FCC. Whether it is the executive or legislative branch doing the leaning is besides the point. It isnt that hard to see a point when the line between “decency” and political speech is crossed, and the FCC starts fining broadcasters because they dont like their content. But, its not a law passed by congress so it must be constitutional.

    One of the few times I agree with Rush Limbaugh is on this issue. If Kerry were elected, his show for example, could be cited as hate speech, and censored by the FCC levying fine after fine until he is simply run out of business or is yanked by clear channel.

  23. “Is Clear Channel a House of Congress?”

    Yes, if you mean “congress” in the biblical sense.

  24. “If Kerry were elected, his show for example, could be cited as hate speech, and censored by the FCC levying fine after fine until he is simply run out of business or is yanked by clear channel.”

    Yeah, that’s what happened under Clinton, right 🙂


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