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February 27, 2004
Miller Time-out

"Dennis Miller" on CNBC is taking a break because consulting producer Steve Friedman wants to start doing the shows in front of a live audience. Friedman is envisioning something with an intimate night-club feel, with room for only 100. How long does he figure it will take to find 100 people who think Miller is funny? Two weeks.

Posted by Greg Beato at 09:53 AM
Public Parts

More powerful than a pack of congressmen, Janet Jackson's weaponized tit has actually made Michael Powell remember that he works for the public, not corporate interests.

When the issue was media consolidation, of course, it was the other way around. Then, what mattered most was the freedom of big media corporations to purchase as many TV and radio stations as possible. Even if this didn't necessarily serve the public's interests, the argument went, it didn't matter, because there was actually more media heterogeneity than ever, thanks to cable TV and the Internet.

Which is true, but so what? The airwaves will always be a finite resource, and the public "owns" them, so, in the realm of broadcast TV and radio, the public's interests should always be the primary concern.

After all, you could apply the same Internet-and-cable argument to the current question of public indeceny. That is, if people are concerned that the public airwaves are being overrun by indeceny, then let them turn to all the family-oriented channels on cable, satellite TV, and satellite radio.

The truth is that we're drowning in decency these days, just like we're drowing in indecency. But does the existence of the Disney Channel, Nickelodean, PAX-TV, the Fox Family Channel, the ABC Family Channel, the Christian Broadcasting Network, the Word Network, Family Net, the Church Channel, BET - Gospel, TBN, and EWTN, amongst others, mean that the public should relinquish its stewardship of the airwaves?

Of course not. But will Michael Powell remember that the public's interests should always be primary, instead of simply when his delicate sensibilities are offended by a brief flash of flesh? I wouldn't bet on it.

Posted by Greg Beato at 08:57 AM
February 26, 2004
Gag Order

Janet Jackson flashes a tit at the Super Bowl, and conservative pundits, sensing apocalypse, can speak of nothing else for days.

Reports of American soldiers raping other American soldiers have been coming out for weeks now, and yet not a peep from those who saw doom in Ms. Jackson's dangerously weaponized nipple. In late January, the Denver Post reported that "at least 37 female service members have sought sexual-trauma counseling and other assistance from civilian rape crisis organizations after returning from war duty in Iraq, Kuwait and other overseas stations."

The latest story on the subject, from the New York Times, says that military officials have confirmed that "there have been 112 reports of sexual misconduct over roughly the past 18 months in the Central Command area of operations..."

True, the Super Bowl entertainment committee didn't incorporate intramural soldier-rape into its halftime show, but that doesn't mean the phenomenon doesn't exist. So why aren't the denizens of and National Review as upset about it as they were about the Super Bowl? Aren't they saddened and disgusted and outraged by the fact that women who have risked their lives in the name of freedom and national security are getting raped for their efforts by their fellow soldiers?

Oh, wait, there is one conservative who has something to say on the subject. Here's RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie, addressing his colleagues at the Republican National Committee's winter meeting: "In Iraq, the governing council is moving toward a free, self-governing no longer live in fear of being killed and tortured and women no longer live in fear of being dragged off to a regime rape room."

Posted by Greg Beato at 09:01 AM