The U.S. Federal Communications Commission refused to reconsider on Wednesday its decision to fine 20 CBS Corp. (CBSa.N: Quote, Profile, Research) television stations a total of $550,000 for airing pop singer Janet Jackson's breast flash in 2004.
The decision sets up a likely court battle over the FCC's attempt to crack down on indecent content broadcast on television and radio.
Jackson briefly exposed her breast during the Super Bowl football halftime show, sparking an outrage among some lawmakers and parents groups and provoking regulators to impose the fine on CBS for violating U.S. decency standards.
Could there be a new sheriff on the block at Fox News Watch? Brash lefty Neal Gabler often manages to get the last word, but on last evening's show he was soundly put in his place by National Review editor Rich Lowry, substituting for Cal Thomas.
The topic was the recent press leaks that have compromised a number of highly-classified anti-terrorism programs including the secret prisons for Al-Qaeda members, the monitoring of Al-Qaeda related phone calls and the gathering of phone calling patterns.
Predictably, Gabler was highly critical of the prospect of the government going against those who, by publishing the leaks, potentially cause significant damage to our national security interests:
After successfully putting the kibosh on a "South Park" episode that made fun of scientology and himself, actor Tom Cruise has expanded his censorship efforts overseas where he's succeeded in getting the same episode pulled in the U.K.:
The South Park episode "Trapped In the Closet," which
mocks actor Tom Cruise's rumored homosexuality as well as his belief in
the controversial religion Scientology, has finally been seen by the
English. The episode had been banned from UK broadcaster Channel 4
after Cruise had complained.
According to the World Entertainment News Network, London's National Film Theater screened the episode on Monday, May 15. After the showing, South Park
creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker spoke about the necessity of free
speech. The event concluded with free copies of the episode being
handed out to attendees.
In regards to possible action by the litigious Cruise, a spokesman for
the Theater said, "If we were charging [for tickets] there may have
been legal problems, but it was a free event, so it should be fine."
Patriotic American users of Microsoft's Hotmail service may be surprised when trying to obtain an email address. The company does not allow new users to sign up for a user name containing the word "american."
At first glance, it seemed that Hotmail is taking precaution to limit phishing attempts which often rely on official-sounding addresses to trick recipients into paying money to people posing as governmental entities. However, my quick check showed that names with "canadian," "francais," "german," "australian," "english," and "deutsch," are all allowed.
Since NewsBusters first broke the story about Google News capriciously terminating its relationship with conservative e-zines and web journals, and followed (with the help of writer and software developer Marc Sheppard) with a detailed analysis of the ramifications of such unrestrained power, the blogosphere has been abuzz with this issue.
One of the key players in this sad tale, Frank Salvato of The New Media Journal, posted an interesting response to Google’s banishment at his website that included a list of competing search engines as well as his opinion on the issue: “Google News and Google Search Engine are on a campaign of political correctness that sees them denying access to their service to any website - be it news, opinion or a hybrid of both - that dares to address the subject of radical Islam.” Salvato continued:
The New Media Journal, formerly The Rant.us, has been removed from Google News and Google Search for what has been deemed “hate speech.” Many readers here might be familiar with this conservative e-zine, and, as a disclaimer, I have been a contributing writer there since September 2004.
(Update: I was just informed by the proprietor of MichNews.com, another conservative e-zine, that he was terminated by Google about a month ago for the same reason. And, the Jawa Report was so terminated on March 29, 2005. In all cases, the offending articles appear to have dealt with radical Islam and terrorism.)
This morning, proprietor Frank Salvato realized that none of today’s content had appeared at Google News or was available through Google Search. As such, he sent an e-mail message to the help desk, and received the following response (permission granted to post):
MediaBistro runs an email from NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller sent to liberal journalist Murray Waas, in which Keller claims the Bush adminstration is "declaring war at home on the values they profess to be promoting abroad."
"I'm not sure journalists fully appreciate the threat confronting us -- The Times in the eavesdropping case, the Post for its CIA prison stories, and everyone else who has tried to look behind the war on terror. Maybe we're suffering a bit of subpoena fatigue. Maybe some people are a little intimidated by the way the White House plays the soft-on-terror card.
"Whatever the reason, I worry that we're not as worried as we should be. No president likes reporters sniffing after his secrets, but most come to realize that accountability is the price of power in our democracy. Some officials in this administration, and their more vociferous cheerleaders, seem to have a special animus towards reporters doing their jobs. There's sometimes a vindictive tone in way they talk about dragging reporters before grand juries and in the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors. I don't know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values they profess to be promoting abroad."
A new conservative student newspaper, which bills itself as not for
''the faint of heart," hit a snag during its debut this week at
Students running the Northeastern Patriot
distributed about 2,000 copies on Monday, then received a call from
university officials cautioning them that they had to register as a
student organization before distributing another issue or change the
paper's name. The university requires groups with Northeastern in their
name to register.
The authoritarian government of China is well-known for suppressing free speech and sometimes getting American media companies eager to cash in on a huge emerging market to help it do so. Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, Time Warner, Fox, and others have soiled their reputations assisting the communist regime's crack downs on dissent.
American media companies don't always back down. Sometimes, however, they're censored directly by the Chinese government itself. Such was the case today when a protestor apparently affiliated with the meditation group Falun Gong managed to get herself close to Chinese president Hu Jintao as he was visiting the White House.
As the woman's voice began shouting out before being arrested by Secret Service agents, Chinese television blacked the screen and muted the audio, according to Matt Drudge. After the event was over, when CNN International (the version of CNN seen outside the United States) began discussing the protestor, its signal was abuptly cut off to Chinese viewers, making some wonder what was going on.
The controversy over Comedy Central's decision to censor its show "South Park" continues to heat up. Late Thursday, the network issued a statement admitting that it did refuse to run a scene which featured a cartoon depiction of the Muslim prophet Muhammed.
"In light of recent world events, we feel we made the right decision," the cable channel said.
That decision has sparked howls of protest from fans and critics, making it the most-searched for term on the blog search engine Technorati (ht Michelle Malkin).
The show's executive producer, Ann Garefino, confirmed that the network censored the scene, stating that she believed it did so out of "fear" of protests or violence.
"We were happy that they didn’t try to claim that it was because of religious tolerance," Garefino said in an interview with Volokh.com.
She was not aware of any particular threats being made against the show or Comedy Central had the deleted scene aired.
Comedy Central's hit show "South Park" just won a Peabody, the highest award given to TV shows. The most recent episode dealt with the controversy surrounding depictions of Mohammad.
In the episode, everyone in the country is terrified that the Fox animated show "Family Guy" is going to show Mohammad. All in the town of South Park are afraid for their lives at the thought of Muslim retribution.
But in the end, Fox chickens out and censors the Mohammad character, covering him up with a black rectangle.
The show's main character, Peter Griffin, is told by his wife Lois that she doesn't want to cook dinner for his ex-girlfriend. Peter responds that maybe they can just have tea, to which the talking dog Brian responds, "You mean like the time you had tea with Mohammad, the prophet of the Muslim faith?"
Today's starters: Keeping with its tradition of political fairness and neutrality, Middle Tennessee State University is continuing its journalism conference (conference called: Self-Inflicted Wounds — Fact and Fiction in Journalism: Fabrication, Plagiarism and Confidential Sources)--kicked off earlier this week by an address from that paragon of objectivity Al Gore--with a panel discussion featuring Mary Mapes. The session is entitled "Rush to Judgment? The CBS Crisis." Any NB readers in the area?
The big media story of the day, as reported earlier by NB's Mark Finkelstein, is that Katie Couric is headed over to CBS. The NYT and LAT both have good good stories the deal and its implications. Why does Couric's leaving warrant attention, asks one blogger. Another says she won't watch "Today" if it hires "View" co-host Meredith Viera.
Foreign Affairs, the Economist, and certainly U.S.News & World Report are titles you'd expect to see at the two State Department newsstands visited by the public, employees, and their kids, but Playboy and Penthouse? Yikes! Or so thought Condoleezza Rice a while back when she began receiving briefings in Foggy Bottom before her confirmation hearings as secretary of state. Alerted by an aide that the skin magazines, partially clad in brown paper covers, were placed beside newsmagazines and close to candy, nuts, and stuffed animals, she said, "I want them out."
A few weeks later, when she took over from Colin Powell, the eviction began. "The secretary wanted them gone immediately," says senior adviser Jim Wilkinson." She didn't understand how a department that claimed to fight for the rights of women worldwide could sell pornography that degrades women." And, he adds, the magazines "could be seen as contributing to a hostile work environment." He teamed with State's internal manager and several State women who had been campaigning against the publications but had gotten nowhere. Now that they have succeeded, some of those women are eyeing other lad mags like Maxim and FHM. But State News's Richard Williams isn't listening. It was no problem banning the XXX fare: It didn't move very fast. "But Maxim," he says, "is a bestseller."
Joel Stein is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times – officially a "humor" columnist, but that’s a matter of debate. A few months ago, he drew attention for baldly stating he did not support the troops in the Iraq war, and that "an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying."
Last week, he decided to mock the Federal Communications Commission for a $3.6 million fine of individual CBS stations for airing a teenager-orgy scene on the Thursday night drama "Without A Trace." But a funny thing happened on the way to the Janet Jackson jokes. He asked CBS for a DVD of the episode: "And, to my shock, I was honestly disgusted."
As has been well-documented by Media Research Center [parent organization of NewsBusters], while MSMers are loath to label anyone or anything 'liberal,' they don't hesitate to brand various entities or individuals 'conservative' or 'right-wing.' Well, folks, I believe we have a new world record in the category.
On tonight's Fox News Watch, in the course of discussing the case of Colorado teacher Jay Bennish - who compared President Bush to Hitler - liberal [there, I said it] Neal Gabler managed to utter the term 'right-wing' four times . . . in 14 seconds. Yes, I checked it by my VCR timer.
According to the Daily Times of Pakistan (hat tip to the American Thinker), former President Bill Clinton stated to reporters in Islamabad last Friday that the publishers responsible for the Muslim cartoons that have started riots around the world should be convicted. Yet, despite this call by a former president to limit the freedom of the press, America’s media have paid virtually no attention to Clinton’s declarations.
As reported by the Daily Times: “Talking to reporters after meeting Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in Islamabad, Clinton said he disagreed with the caricatures and that the publication was against religious and ethical norms.”
Could the Nazis take over America? It’s one thing for the ridiculously incendiary notion to be raised in a major magazine by an aging Hollywood lefty.
It’s quite another for it to be raised by writers for the most powerful newspaper in the world. Twice. In the same edition. I don’t know if The New York Times film reviewers Stephen Holden and Caryn James share notes or simply a distain for the Bush administration, but the each managed to link the administration to Hitler’s Nazis in articles appearing on the front page of the “Arts” section.
Carsten Juste, the editor of the Danish newspaper that set off an international kerfuffle by publishing cartoons of the founder of Islam was interviewed in yesterday's edition. An excerpt from the Q&A:
There were some journalists here at the paper, including some who write regularly about Muslims, immigration, and integration, who strongly advised us not to do it. It was quite a discussion. Personally I thought the cartoons were harmless - very much in fitting with our Danish tradition for caricature. If some of the cartoons had been cruder - if an illustrator had given us Mohammed pissing on the Koran, for example - then it would have been pulled. The same way I've pulled a lot of cartoons over the years that devout Christians might have found insulting. Or others because they were too vulgar or too crude. I didn't feel that these were, and so we went ahead.'
Hardball's screen graphic "Global Fury" presumably referred to the rioting over the Mohammed cartoons. But it might also have been a subliminally sardonic comment about Chris Matthews' guest, Amy Goodman, host of the far-left radio show "Democracy Now."
If Hillary is angry, perhaps she's taken lessons from Goodman. This is one angry woman. Goodman's explanation by way of a justification of the rioting?
"This is about people feeling marginalized. This has to do with the war in Iraq, this has to do with 'the Occupation' [translation: Israel's claim to a right to exist], this is about hundreds being held at Guantanamo with the Koran being desecrated."
But the Mohammad cartoons are “gratuitous assaults on religious symbols” and won’t be run by the paper.
Just yesterday, the Times wrote, in an editorial on the Danish cartoons of Mohammad, that “The New York Times and much of the rest of the nation's news media have reported on the cartoons but refrained from showing them. That seems a reasonable choice for news organizations that usually refrain from gratuitous assaults on religious symbols, especially since the cartoons are so easy to describe in words.”
Apparently the Arts pages didn’t get the memo, because it runs a photo of Chris Ofili’s dung-clotted “Holy Virgin Mary” painting in Wednesday’s Arts section story by Michael Kimmelman, who also calls the Danish cartoons “callous and feeble.”
Hey, I'm a multi-culturalist. I'm happy to see people observing their various religious holidays, from Christmas to Chanukah to Ramadan. But somehow, my multicultural enthusiasms run out of steam when it comes to . . . condoning the sacking of foreign embassies.
Not Julian Phillips. The co-host of Fox & Friends Weekend blithely condoned the current rioting and burning of foreign embassies around the world by Muslims angered by depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. His explanation-by-way-of-excuse: "different religion, different culture."
In the course of the show's opening segment, Fox's Yasmina Ykelenstam reported live from Beirut, where rioters had set fire to the Danish embassy. She reported that there has been violence across the city, including at the Norwegian embassy, and cars smashed and burned. Back in the studio, Kiran Chetry reported that in Damascus, Syria, rioters had also set fire to the Danish embassy.
Shortly before 8am EST Wednesday on CNN's American Morning, co-host Miles O'Brien expressed outrage at Cindy Sheehan's ejection from the House of Representatives during Tuesday evening's State of the Union address, declaring that her free speech had been "thwarted." Mr. O'Brien incorrectly stated that soon after Ms. Sheehan entered the gallery, and revealed that she was wearing an anti-war T-shirt, security went up to her and "grabbed her and took her out of her seat." When it was pointed out to Mr. O'Brien that Ms. Sheehan, prior to her removal, had been ordered to cover up the shirt, which was in violation of a House rule against any form of demonstration in the galleries, he brushed off the issue and revealed the source of his information: Cindy Sheehan's own blog entry posted on left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore's website.
Here's a real puzzler that I hope I am wrong about:
Am I the only person noticing a silence, bordering on total, from the big lefty blogs?
There are plenty of examples in history of the Left looking the other way when oppression rears its ugly head. Just one -- the non-reactions of presidential candidates Gene McCarthy and George McGovern in 1968 when the Russian tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia and crushed the Prague Spring, as documented by Evans & Novak in their column just before that year's Democratic convention (sorry, I don't have a link, but I remember it like it was yesterday; e-mail me if you have a link).
If I am correct, the big left blogs' ignorance of the Google censorship story may be yet another instance of "see no evil" when it's perpetrated in the name of a Communist government.
On the Jan. 19, "NBC Nightly News," introducing a story on Google's refusal to comply with a subpoena for Web search records, anchor Brian Williams alerted viewers to "a developing story in this country tonight that involves the collision of technology and privacy...The giant and successful search engine company has been subpoenaed by the Justice Department. They want to see exactly what people are searching for."
Fifteen additional reports graced the newscasts of the broadcast networks since then, according to a Nexis search, most of these focusing on the concerns of privacy advocates who fear overreaching by the Bush administration.
Five days later, the Associated Press reported that Google will censor Web sites the Chinese government deems objectionable:
Lefty media critics often assert that because large corporations control much of the media, that makes the press more likely to be biased toward economic conservatism. It's a laughable belief since study after study done by MRC and others show the media favor higher taxes and more regulation of business. The truth is that most large companies don't much care about politics. They can and do switch hit regularly.
The latest nail in the coffin in the myth of media economic conservatism comes from China where it appears that Microsoft's MSN Spaces program has implemented a system that automatically stops bloggers from posting entries with prohibited words like Tibet, Falun Gong, etc. Similar steps have been implemented by other Chinese blog hosting providers. Rebecca MacKinnon has an extensive posting on the matter replete with screenshots and other information.