During their morning commute many listeners across the countrymay have noticed the recent disappearance of Howard Stern from theairwaves, but they may not fully understand the details thatcontributed to his removal. They shouldn’t worry though becauseneither does anyone else.
Before we try to understand why Stern was banned we have tofirst trace our way back to the latest Super Bowl where JanetJackson’s breast made an appearance on live TV. This served as acatalyst for a chain reaction of censorship. Following Jackson’sperformance, various media outlets and corporations came underpressure to enforce stringent guidelines stipulated by the FCC inorder to stop lewd and offensive programming. Who would’ve thoughtthat Jackson’s breast would pose such a threat to democracy and allit stands for?
Clear Channel, which holds a virtual monopoly on the radioindustry, decided that it was time to remove Stern from six radiostations, owed in part to a $755,000 fine levied by the FCC against”Bubba the Love Sponge” show in Florida.
Isn’t it possible that Stern was removed simply because his lewdprogramming finally caught up with him? Well for one thing, Sternhas been the same indecent shock jock that he’s been for the last20 years without receiving the boot. Why is now any different?Clear Channel didn’t seem to have a problem with him when theyoriginally decided to broadcast him. They didn’t have a problemwith him when he was bringing in enormous amounts of adrevenue.
Yet as soon as he starts speaking out against the Bushadministration he’s set up to be excommunicated from the radioindustry.
Like the man or not, Stern represented the epitome of freespeech in America. Others like him have faced the repercussions inthe neo-McCarthian witch-hunt lead by FCC chairman Michael Powell.These recent events are reminiscent of Bush’s use of 9/11 to breedfear in the hearts of Americans, allowing his administration tomanipulate the Constitution and Congress however it sees fit.
Michael Powell, who was appointed by George Bush, just happensto be the son of Secretary of State Colin Powell. It’s also nosecret that Michael Powell is a close friend of the president andthat Clear Channel is a huge financial contributor to PresidentBush’s campaign. It’s unlikely that Bush had any direct influencein the removal of Howard Stern, yet there are those who have asustained interest in keeping Bush in the Oval Office for anotherterm. Personalities such as Stern pose a threat to thoseinterests.
Stern is questioning why he’s suspended over a caller who used aracial slur on air three years ago, and he has every right to doso. Why would Clear Channel hire Michael Savage to KPRC/Houstonafter being fired from MSNBC for accusing a caller of being asodomite who should, “get AIDS and die?” Why wasn’t the zerotolerance policy applied to Ryan Seacrest of KIIS-FM in LosAngeles, who uses a variety of swear words on air? For years avariety of racial slurs have been used on Sterns show, yet when hestarts talking out against Bush that’s when they suddenly decideit’s time to pull the plug on him.
The total hypocrisy of Stern’s removal is made evident by movieslike “The Passion of the Christ.” Despite being a 127-minute longfestival of gore, the content of the film is considered perfectlyacceptable as long as it depicts a scene from the Bible. The pointisn’t that “The Passion of the Christ” should’ve been censored byany means, but Howard Stern and others like him should be able toexpress their viewpoints with the same impunity that religiousprogramming enjoys. This also includes the religious channelspresent on television. Nothing is stopping someone from changingthe station or channel if their philosophy doesn’t fit theviewpoints being broadcast.
Removing the different voices of America means that one day,changing the channel might not mean a thing because every channelis broadcasting the same opinions and agendas.