Grand, Old, and Pitiful
In the eyes of most political observers, the Democratic takeover of Congress signaled tougher federal scrutiny of business interests, but those same pundits might make an exception for the entertainment industry given that
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) suggested that any crackdown on the entertainment industry was fraught with constitutional problems. "It is not something that is easily regulated," he stated – correctly. There is a better solution and one which de facto deregulates cable: Cable Choice, giving the public complete control over what it subscribes to, and pays for. Yet Stevens has offered no tangible support for this measure, either.
Which silence is preferable to the comments made by his Republican colleague Gordon Smith, who denounced cable choice claiming it would reduce the number of family-friendly children's offerings, an audacious statement with no basis in fact.
But at least Stevens and Smith were in the building.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of
Other Republicans were there for a moment or two, but did not stay around long enough to question the witnesses. At Sen. Rockefeller's request, the Parents Television Council put together a five-minute video showing some of the most outrageous moments of violence on television. It began with the recent dope-snorting out of a dead man's intestine on CBS's “NCIS”; the 2004 fellatio-at-gunpoint scene from FX's “The Shield”; and the marital-rape scene from FX's “Rescue Me” from last June. At this point, only two minutes into the showing, Senators demanded the video be stopped. “We've seen enough,” declared Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey), who at least denounced it as “trash.”
Senator Trent Lott, the GOP Minority Whip, left in the middle of that brief interlude – ten minutes into the hearing, never to return.
But that was better than Sen. John Sununu (R-New Hampshire), who then denounced Sen. Rockefeller for showing video of the extremely graphic violence and rape scenes on C-SPAN. “As much as I might share the concerns raised in your opening statement,” he huffed, “I can't for the life of me figure out how it is that showing what the chairman believes to be indecent material on national TV at 10:35 in the morning is going to solve the problem.”
“What the chairman believes”? Sununu “might” share the concern that it's indecent to show a rape, a forced-fellatio scene, and a woman sucking heroin out of her dead brother's innards on national television?
These Senators couldn't stand watching just five minutes of the kind of programming that is being aired over the public airwaves, in front of millions of children; or is being made possible by the forced subsidies of millions of parents appalled by its offensiveness. If this didn't make the point, it is pointless to go further with this crowd.
But there was yet another bombshell lost on these legislators. Renowned law professor Laurence Tribe is now a hired gun for the cable sleazemakers, and was there to do their bidding, but in the course of the hearings made an incredible assertion. He declared that in his opinion a federal court could determine that the forced-oral-sex scene on "The Shield" was “obscene.” Under the law, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, obscenity often constitutes a felony.
Was he pressed on this? How about Fox executive Peter Liguori, sitting right there on the witness stand, the man who “led” the FX network at the time that disgraceful episode aired, and no one even asked him if he was proud of himself. Not a peep, to either one.
L. Brent Bozell III is president of the