March 02, 2004

Dubbing Clear Channel "fear channel," Stern warned that the "fascist right wing" is "getting so much power."

It's the Media, Stupid.

Maureen Farrell, While callers to
the show repeatedly expressed dismay that Stern was
taken off the air in certain cities, one fan expressed
the overall mood by saying that the new FCC/Clear
Channel tactics are reminiscent of Nazi book burnings.
Never mind that the canaries in the proverbial coal
mine were chirping a similar tune last year, back when
radio stations were organizing Dixie Chick CD
demolitions, the distant rumbling of goose-stepping is
now being heard by former Bush supporters, too.
Dubbing Clear Channel "fear channel," Stern warned that the "fascist right wing" is "getting so much power."

Break the Bush Cabal Stranglehold on the "US
Mainstream News Media," Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)

March 2, 2004

As the Worm Turns: Stern, Sully and the Bush Backlash

by Maureen Farrell

Thirty-six years ago, Walter Cronkite returned from a
visit to Vietnam and set the nation straight. "We've
been too often disappointed by the optimism of the
American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to
have faith any longer in the silver linings they find
in the darkest clouds, " he said. "For it seems now
more certain than ever that the bloody experience of
Vietnam is to end in a stalemate."

"If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost the country,"
President Johnson remarked.

Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the
past two years can see how fitting these remarks are
today -- not only as they relate to this White House's
determination to whitewash its blunders, but to the
media's power to shape public opinion. And while
Howard Stern is no Walter Cronkite, former EPA
Administrator Christine Todd Whitman recently
explained the extent of Stern's clout. "Eleven years
ago, Howard Stern endorsed me for Governor," she told
Bill Maher. "I want to tell you, in the closest races
that I had, that made a difference."

Listed by FOX last March as one of the "pro-Bush
celebs [missing] out on the limelight," [Fox News]
Stern has since rethought his position. On Feb. 26
(the day Stern's program was suspended in half a dozen
Clear Channel markets), he not only said that the Bush
administration doesn't know what it is doing in Iraq,
but within a ten minute span pointed out that:

Al Gore won the election.

Bush did not fulfill his duty in the National Guard.

George W. will never admit that Poppy Bush pulled
stings to get him into the Guard and keep him out of

There are several questions about Bush's character.

While callers to the show repeatedly expressed dismay
that Stern was taken off the air in certain cities,
one fan expressed the overall mood by saying that the
new FCC/Clear Channel tactics are reminiscent of Nazi
book burnings. Never mind that the canaries in the
proverbial coal mine were chirping a similar tune last
year, back when radio stations were organizing Dixie
Chick CD demolitions, the distant rumbling of
goose-stepping is now being heard by former Bush
supporters, too. Dubbing Clear Channel "fear channel,"
Stern warned that the "fascist right-wing" is "getting
so much power."

The following day, Stern was even more forceful. "Get
rid of George W. Bush," he said, adding that Bush is
"dangerous" and has a "religious agenda." By Monday,
March 1, Stern was circumspect. "There's a real good
argument to be made that I stopped backing Bush and
that's when I got kicked off Clear Channel," he said.

After Stern was pulled from six cities, including
Orlando, Miami and Pittsburgh (which, coincidentally,
are important markets in important swing states), John
Hogan, president of 1,200-station Clear Channel,
appeared before members of the House Committee on
Energy and Commerce and apologized for letting Stern
say the things he's been saying for years. "I accept
responsibility for our mistake, and my company will
live with the consequences of its actions," Hogan

"I don't think what [Stern] said this week was
different from things he's said before," Rep. Fred
Upton said. "Why didn't you do this earlier? Has he
actually changed his tune?"

"I don't think he's changed his tune, but we've
changed ours. We're going in a different direction at
Clear Channel Radio," Hogan responded. [The Hollywood

While that's all fine and well, if quality programming
really is a top priority, why did Clear Channel
recently hire Michael Savage at Houston 's KPRC? Isn't
Mr. Hogan aware that Savage was fired from MSNBC for
referring to a caller as a "sodomite" who should "get
AIDS and die"? And, if vulgarity truly is the issue,
what was Clear Channel's complaint against disc jockey
Charles Goyette?

In an article entitled "How to Lose Your Job in Talk
Radio: Clear Channel Gags an Antiwar Conservative,"
Goyette discussed why he believes he was removed from
his prime-time spot at KFYI in Phoenix. "Why did this
happen? Why only a couple of months after my company
picked up the option on my contract for another year
in the fifth-largest city in the United States, did it
suddenly decide to relegate me to radio Outer
Darkness?" he asked. "The answer lies hidden in the
oil-and-water incompatibility of these two seemingly
disconnected phrases: 'Criticizing Bush' and 'Clear

Saying that badmouthing Bush and his fairy tale war
was enough to derail his career, Goyette explained a
policy that, from his vantage point, seemed to be
company wide. "Criticism of Bush and his ever-shifting
pretext for a first-strike war (what exactly was it we
were pre-empting anyway?) has proved so serious a
violation of Clear Channel's cultural taboo that only
a good contract has kept me from being fired
outright," he wrote. Fellow Clear Channel D.J. Roxanne
Cordonier (Roxanne Walker), however, wasn't so lucky.
"Her lawsuit against the company alleges that she was
belittled on the air and reprimanded by her station
for opposing the invasion of Iraq. Then she was
fired," Goyette explained.

By now, ties between the Texas-based Clear Channel and
the President of the United States are legendary.
Clear Channel's vice chairman Tom Hicks "made Bush a
millionaire," while Clear Channel stations were a
staple at "'pro-troop rallies,' which, by many
accounts, "were virtually indistinguishable from
pro-Bush rallies." []

So, was Stern taken off the air because of the shock
waves emanating from Janet Jackson's breast? Or is
there, as Stern and others suggest, more to this

Oddly enough, Rush Limbaugh's twisted defense of Stern
provides a clue. Though Limbaugh was somewhat brave
and honorable to speak out, the spin Limbaugh placed
on the incident speaks volumes. This was Limbaugh's
take, courtesy of Matt Drudge:

"Smut on TV gets praised. Smut on TV wins Emmys. On
radio, there seems to be different standards. I've
never heard Howard Stern. But when the federal
government gets involved in this, I get a little
frightened. If we are going to sit by and let the
federal government get involved in this, if the
government is going to 'censor' what they think is
right and wrong... What happens if a whole bunch of
John Kerrys, or Terry McAuliffes start running this
country? And decide conservative views are leading to
violence? I am in the free speech business. It's one
thing for a company to determine if they are going to
be party to it. It's another thing for the government
to do it." []

John Kerry? Terry McAuliffe? Why not mention that the
FCC is headed by Colin Powell's son, Michael? And what
about Clear Channel's ample ties to Bush? This bit of
spin ventures so deeply into the Land of Intellectual
Dishonesty, it's easy to see why, given the value of
propaganda, Limbaugh is said to have received a $35
million signing bonus when he signed his reported $250
million contract back in 2001.

And, given the evidence (particularly since Howard
Stern himself is now openly asking if his censorship
woes didn't begin with his criticism of Bush) one
wonders if Stern's political change of heart didn't
have something to do with Clear Channel's preemptive
strike. "Maybe they did it as a favor to Bush?" Stern

Of course, a year ago, in the midst of war fever,
things were even worse. Last March, for example, when
John Kerry said "we need a regime change in the United
States,'' RNC Chairman Marc Racicot started frothing
at the mouth. "Senator Kerry crossed a grave line when
he dared to suggest the replacement of America 's
commander-in- chief at a time when America is at war,"
Racicot said, as if presidential elections were a plot
in the mind of traitorous renegades. []

These days, however, former Bush loyalist Howard Stern
isn't the only one openly calling for Bush's ouster,
as another of the President's most ardent (and at
times, embarrassingly fawning) supporters is now
seeing things more clearly. Though Andrew Sullivan has
been described as falling "to his own knees before
President Bush" []), last week, following
Bush's call for a Constitutional amendment banning gay
marriage, Andrew was abuzz with a flurry
of anti-Bush commentary from people who are also
beginning to awaken to the dangers we face. How
striking is this turn of events? Imagine Charlton
Heston suddenly expressing a distaste for firearms.

Explaining his shift in perspective, Sullivan wrote:
"It was because I believed in the Constitution of the
United States that I felt no qualms in backing this
president and in fighting rhetorical wars on his
behalf - because that Constitution was under attack. .
. So you can see, perhaps, why the bid to write
anti-gay discrimination into this very Constitution
provokes such a strong response from me - and so many
other people, gay and straight, and their families. It
robs us of something no one in this country should be
robbed of - equality and inclusion in the founding
document itself. When people tell me that, in weighing
the political choices, the war on terror should trump
the sanctity of the Constitution, my response is
therefore a simple one. The sanctity of the
Constitution is what we are fighting for. We're not
fighting just to defend ourselves. We are fighting to
defend a way of life: pluralism, freedom, equality
under the law."

Sullivan received more than a thousand e-mails
regarding "the president's shocking embrace of
discrimination in the Constitution," and as one
e-mailer explained, "I have voted for every Republican
nominee since Nixon and without regrets. Until now. I
wish I could take back my 2000 vote. But, in any case,
I will work to get out the vote for Kerry or Edwards.
I will not vote for a President who secures the basest
elements of his base by dividing Americans. And you
know what: he is going to lose. That gay marriage
announcement was the desperate act of a desperate

An independent voter who was planning to vote for Bush
wrote that the President's "disgraceful support for
altering the nation's constitution, in order to
enshrine bigotry, division and scorn is the last
straw," while a Special Ops solider put it this way:

"And so it now begins. My more liberal friends told me
a day like this would come, and now I am forced to eat
crow. Words cannot express the hurt and anger I feel
for the man's blatant constitutional and moral attack
on a segment of our population. And for the still
wobbly among us, make no mistake ... this is an
attack... I realized long ago I am (was) a Republican
solely for foreign affairs. But that's not good enough
anymore. I've helped feed the Kurds in Northern Iraq,
I've slept in the mud and rain to enforce peace
treaties in eastern Europe, seated in 100 percent
humidity in southeast Asia, and I dodged too many
bullets and remote controlled bombs in and around
Mosul to count. But I gladly did this (and will do it
again) to protect the rights and liberties of ALL
Americans, not just those of my family.

I voted for this man ... despite what my family said,
despite how many times I was smeared because I am
African American and (was) a Republican, despite his
joy in being an anti-intellectual ... they warned me,
they warned me and I didn't listen ... and now I am
ashamed of myself. By all that I hold Holy it will
never happen again!"

While the new anti-Bush attitude takes some getting
used to, Sullivan's observation about the hidden
agenda behind the Federal Marriage Amendment is
especially jarring -- given that he's openly dismissed
Bush-related concerns as "conspiracy theories" in the
past. Citing an email from a Republican lawyer who
explained why he hasn't "been sleeping well since
Tuesday," Sullivan wrote that the proposed
Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage "is just
the beginning of the religious right agenda."

"[With] one amendment the religious right could wipe
out access to birth control, abortion, and even
non-procreative sex (as Senator Santorum so eagerly
wants to do)," the anonymous lawyer wrote. "This
debate isn't only about federalism, it's about the
reversal of two hundred years of liberal democracy
that respects individuals." [] Or,
as Sullivan put it, "Memo to straights: you're next."

Given how long Stern and Sullivan sang Bush's praises
(and how frequently those who warned about threats to
Americans' civil liberties were ridiculed) it's
comforting to know that they, and others, finally see
it, too. "I have to say, I feel like a spoiled brat
[voting for Nader] last time," Bill Maher recently
told Hardball's Chris Matthews. "It just showed me,
people do not have the indulgence in most places in
the world to vote for the lesser of two evils. . .
They see evil, they got to get rid of it. Not that
George Bush is evil incarnate, but he does have to be
gotten rid of." []

Of course, now that polls show that Kerry/Edwards
ticket would beat Bush/Cheney by a margin of 50
percent to 42 percent (and a growing number of
Republicans and independents say that won't back Bush
in 2004) perhaps our long national nightmare is
finally coming to an end. Unless, of course, Bush
really does "hit a trifecta" and Osama "October
Surprise" bin Laden is caught and paraded around the
Republican National Convention; more voter roll
shenanigans and Diebold glitches deliver another GOP
"victory;" and a second terrorist attack leads, as
Gen. Tommy Franks warned, to the suspension of the

Yes, at this point, it seems that for Bush to win the
presidential election, something wicked this way will
have to come. And though there are those who have
predicted that the future holds more wars, more
crackdowns, a return to the draft and another
terrorist attack [], the fact that
America's lazy Stepford pundits are no longer asking,
"Can anyone beat Bush?" is a promising sign.

"None of [the media] are alarmed as broadcasters that
our rights are being taken away. It's weird what's
going on," Stern mused on March 1.

Yep, Howard, we've been stuck in a seemingly
never-ending episode of the Twilight Zone for quite
some time now. But as more people awaken to the
dangers lurking from within, perhaps there will be
silver linings -- even in the darkest clouds.


Maureen Farrell is a writer and media consultant who
specializes in helping other writers get television
and radio exposure.

© Copyright 2003, Maureen Farrell

Posted by richard at March 2, 2004 01:22 PM