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And so Karmazin after that goes back and issues an edict to all the employees at Infinity: [Paraphrased exchange] “We’re going to clean up our act and not going to be any of this or that anymore.” And Stern says, “Oh, yeah? Watch this!” So Stern’s out there pushing the envelope on purpose, trying to get noticed and it’s working, and he is in essence saying to the federal government and to Mel Karmazin, “Screw you people.” In the meantime, Clear Channel caught up in their own situation faced with this is how, “I’m not putting up with this anymore. It’s not worth the hassle. Get rid of Bubba the Love whatever, and Stern.”
In the meantime, elsewhere in the American media you can find stuff that is raunchier than Howard Stern’s dreams are raunchy. All you’ve got to do is watch Sex in the City. I was watching Sex in the City the other night because I wanted to see what… I don’t watch this show. I have never watched this show, but I got caught up in all this hubbub. Oh, I’ve heard about it because every woman I know has 13,000 pairs of Manolo Blahniks. So I wanted to watch this show, and I decided to watch a couple of the episodes leading up to it, some of these good-bye episodes.
I couldn’t believe what… They showed…well, folks, they showed IT. They actually showed IT. I mean, the act. It was taking place right there at 8:30 in my library, in my home — and this show is winning an Emmy! This show portraying rampant sex without any love whatsoever. This is just telling you what I’ve seen. I’m a consumer, too. This show built the AOL-Time Warner building in New York. This show along with the Sopranos built that building. This show is getting Emmys left and right.

And in the meantime, everybody’s praising it. Nobody’s worried. Now, I know it’s cable, but it’s still primetime: 8:30 your kids are still in… “this kids in bed business” anymore, anyway. And there’s a disconnect here over what happens on radio and what happens on TV. Smut on TV gets praised to the hilt. Smut on TV wins Emmys. Smut on TV gets critical acclaim. The smuttier, the better. And then on radio there seems to be a little bit of a different standard. Now, do not misunderstand me. I haven’t ever heard the Howard Stern Show. I don’t listen to other radio so I don’t.
I only know it by reputation. I did read the comments that were on the show yesterday that everybody is, you know, hyperventilating over. All I can tell you is, I would never even dream of polluting this program or the business I work in with that kind of content. But there’s one thing out here — and I think that it’s up to the people that are responsible for that programming to make a similar judgment. If they think that programming’s fine, then they’re the ones that ought to be looked at. If Stern is not his own boss, if Stern is an employee and is being allowed to do that, you’ve got to look at Stern’s bosses!
You’ve got to look at the people who are distributing the Stern show, if you want — and it isn’t Clear Channel. They’re sticking a stick up in the air and taking it and broadcasting it and it crossed the line yesterday, and so they’ve made a programming and a corporate decision they don’t want to be part of it. That, to me, is okay. But when the federal government gets involved in this, that’s when I start getting a little frightened, because if we were going to sit around, if we sit idly by and allow the federal government… They’ve already chinked our armor with the First Amendment with campaign finance reform.

They’ve already violated the Constitution. Our elected members of Congress affirmed by our Supreme Court said, “Yes, Constitution doesn’t mean diddlysquat. If you want to make a law abridging free speech, go ahead and do it,” and they did it. It’s called campaign finance reform. If now they’re going to say, ‘We’re going to censor what we think is decent or indecent,” if the government is going to do it, it’s a direct violation. Don’t give me this public airwaves business, either. The public airwaves argument vanished long ago with what they’re putting on the public television airwaves.
Radio cannot compete with the smut that’s on television. I don’t care who on radio is out there. They don’t compete with the crap that’s being televised every night into everybody’s home with little teeny bops watching it and so forth. Now if we sit idly by and let a federal government start to define what is okay for somebody to say on radio and what isn’t — and in this area it has to do with decency regarding obscenity and smut and so forth — what happens if a whole bunch of John Kerry-John Edwards-Bill Clinton-Terry McAuliffe types end up running this country someday again and decide that conservative opinion is indecent, decide that that causes violence, decide that that is somehow damaging to the culture?
You know, I’m in the free speech business here, my friends. I couldn’t survive without it. And it is one thing for a company in business to determine whether or not they’re going to be party to it. It is quite another thing for a government. The government doesn’t regulate movies. And you find more smut in movies than you’ll ever find on radio today. The government doesn’t regulate cable TV. The government doesn’t regulate video cassettes. You find pornography that is broadcast in this country every night, may not be pornographic to you today but go back ten or 15 years ago and it would have qualified and I still think some of it is. But to each his own. But when the federal government gets involved, and when we allow them to, when we sit back and say, “Okay, you, federal government you can sit in judgment over who can say what,” then at some point you can rest assured your day is coming, too, when the federal government can tell you what you can or can’t say — and it won’t be whether you’re talking about something to do with the functioning of the human body in an indecent way.

You know, there’s a good way of illustrating how these things happen. Imagine a meter with the needle pointing state to the center, right in the middle of it: far left, far right. Left and right doesn’t mean anything here other than directions. Something happens to make the meter go way far in one direction, and somebody says, “Oh, we’ve got to stop this,” and rather than bring the meter back to the center and where it was, we overcompensate and we take the meter as far the other way as it was taken by the smut as a means of trying to cancel out what happened.
And so we never do center things. All we do is keep going from extreme to extreme to extreme. What bothers me about this, and I’ll just say it one more time, is we have a Constitution which says “the federal government shall make no law abridging the right of free speech.” Now, I know it was intended primarily about political speech but it covered everything. And the government is doing it, and it’s doing it with impunity. It’s getting away with it. Campaign finance reform. Now it’s getting away with it in the area of smut because a lot of people think the government should do this, the government should stop people from talking this way.
It’s not the government’s responsibility. This business of it’s the public airwaves and then licenses and that you will. That’s an age-old idea. It’s as old as Marconi and it’s as relevant as Marconi is today. There’s so much more communication that is not quote, unquote, broadcast that to hold the quote, unquote, broadcast community meaning over-the-air community to a different standard than people who are only broadcast via a wire is just as hypocritical as it can be. It’s dinosauric; it’s Jurassic, and it needs to be done away with.
The fact of the matter is, it is up to the people who own these programs. If they want to go into the marketplace peddling smut, then and they want to find an audience for it if they want to shoot for the gutter and if they want to win for the gutter, let them shoot for the gutter and win for the gutter. It ought not be the government’s responsibility. The government ought not be able to tell people what they can and can’t say because once you sit back and say “government can police that,” you never know what the government is going to be 15 or 20 years down the road and what it’s going to want to police, and we already know the government is trying to stop people from saying things about elected officials. The political class is stopping people from criticizing them. This is a bad omen, folks.

I’ll tell you, my tolerance and patience are being tried to the limit here, uh, ladies and gentlemen, as I host today’s excursion into broadcast excellence. I’m watching every cable network there is out there, and when it comes time to cover the Stern story… Fox just ran a little graphic said “Stern Censored” and CNN is running a graphic said “Stern Censor.” Howard Stern has not been censored. He has been cancelled by a company, Clear Channel, which affiliates him on six stations. The only people that can censor you are the government. That is censorship.
A company can tell its employees what they can and can’t say from here till kingdom come. Now if Clear Channel doesn’t want to carry Stern’s show because of the content, it’s not censorship; it’s a business decision. Stern is still free to say whatever he wants to say, just Clear Channel is not going to broadcast it. It’s that simple. These people don’t even know what they’re talking about. This is why I started out on this today. The government is trying to force censorship on companies with intimidation and fear when it comes to speech.
But the government doesn’t have the guts to censor him themselves, not yet, and see, that’s the thing here. I mean, it’s one thing for the FCC to have fines and so forth, but he still talks after the fines. Anybody gets fined if they… Stern’s employers are who ought to be focused on here. This ought to be CBS, Viacom and Infinity. If these networks really want to get to the bottom of this, they need to go talk to the people that employ Stern and leave Clear Channel alone. Clear Channel’s just made a business decision.

This is no different than a network canceling a sitcom when it’s run its course. How many times do we hear some sitcom got “censored” when it gets canceled? It didn’t get…no sitcom got censored. You know, when Cheers ran out, it ran out; NBC canceled it and that was it. But nobody talked about the writers for Cheers being censored or anything. No different here. Clear Channel is the station that takes the syndication of Stern’s show in six markets. They said, “We don’t want to broadcast this.” It’s not censorship; it’s a business decision.
Now, I am partial to this because my syndication partner is Clear Channel. They can… They’re big boys, but this is being totally misreported as to who is censoring Howard Stern. Clear Channel can’t tell Stern what to say and what not to say. I don’t know if anybody can, but if anybody can it’s his bosses, and that’s Mel Karmazin, if anybody wants to know the name, and that’s who they ought to be talking to. They’re not going to talk to Mel Karmazin because he’s a big favorite liberal guy in the mainstream media. So they’re going to dump all over Clear Channel, which the mainstream media doesn’t like because Clear Channel is too big and because they syndicate me.
But it’s not censorship, not yet. The government can censor and they’re getting dangerously close to it, and that is what worries me, because if the government gets close to censoring people on whatever basis then any other basis is fuel for the fire down the road. And I’m in the free speech business. Oh, I understand these terms. Nobody has been censored here yet. This is simply a business decision that has been made. Is this clear? Is everybody in there understanding? Good. Because, frankly, if it’s not clear I don’t know what more I can do. I can’t believe these people in the news business can’t get this right. There is no censorship here yet!

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