Punishing Indecency -- Jan. 23, 2005

  -- A weekly feature on This Week.


Outgoing FCC Chairman Michael Powell, the man who made headlines for levying the heaviest fine in history for a wardrobe malfunction, is our voice.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell: "You'd have to ask each commissioner, read the decision in depth, to understand why the Janet Jackson incident warranted the fine that it did.

"We try to make an assessment based on our precedents, the egregiousness of the incident, the context. In the past, the FCC used to have fines and maybe they were $7,000, $20,000. Well, if you're Viacom and you have net revenues in the billions, what do you think $7,000 is as a deterrent?

"I think Howard Stern is a talent and I think he is an American cultural icon, and I don't have anything ill to say about him. I've never been personally motivated by anything he's done or his shows. But he's also not exempt. And just because he's a major personality doesn't mean if on occasion he crosses the standard that the American people, through the statute, says is indecent, that we should turn the other way simply because he's going to criticize us.

"Long after I'm gone, someone else will make judgments about indecency. This issue's been here for 30 years. It'll probably be here 30 years from now. But what I see is a generation of children growing up in the information age, in which digital medium and the Internet and broadband are going to infuse their lives. And we have tried to make that our principal priority.

"All you have to do is watch a 14- or 15-year-old today and know that that's going to be the central thing that his or her life is formulated around. And that's what I set out to be focused on, and that's what I'm personally most proud of."


The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

Jon Stewart: To my mind, in these hearings this morning, I thought Dr. Rice's most notable movement was this quote. Can we take a look at this?

Condoleezza Rice: The time for diplomacy is now.

Stewart: The time for diplomacy is now? Is this a signal that this White House is moving away from a more unilateralist, some would say arrogant approach to its foreign policy?

Stephen Colbert, "Daily Show" correspondent: No, what she is saying, Jon, is that the time for diplomacy is now … during the hearings. You see, Jon, being diplomatic with the people who could vote against you is one of the best ways to get confirmed. When she is confirmed the time for diplomacy would have been then.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

Jay Leno: Well, today at her confirmation hearing for secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice said it's time for the United States to start using more diplomacy. So you know what that means: I guess we're running low on ammunition.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

Stewart: And nothing says dawn of a new era like a "Lawrence Welk Show" regular interpreting the music of John Ashcroft.

[performance of "Let the Eagle Soar" at presidential inauguration ceremony]

Stewart: Who could possibly be red state enough to enjoy that?

[more music, and picture of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., smiling]

Stewart: So she is running for president.

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