Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Congressional Indecency Hypocrites

Fireworks flew on my KMOX show today when Senator Kit Bond called in, upset that I was saying he and other elected officials are hypocrites.

I was talking with Nancy Seligman of the Committee for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington about their recent report that names those in the moral values crowd who accept contributions from corporations that make money from pornography. Bond tried to go on the offensive and deflect the issue, but I wouldn't allow him to continually spew political rhetoric without answering direct questions.

The corporations in questions aren't Playboy and Larry Flynt, but Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable, Marriott International, Echostar, General Motors (which owned Direct TV until recently) and others. They all make millions from porn being delivered to houses and hotel rooms across America. There's nothing wrong with that, but there is something wrong with politicians making all that noise about indecency while taking funding from companies that are in the business.

Bond argued that CREW and I were being unfair because pornography is not the major business of these corporations. No, but it does bring them millions of dollars in profits. If Bond is going to let them off the hook because the majority of their money comes from the other parts of their business, let's look at what he and his congressional pals have done with their recent indecency legislation.

I'm on the air for about a thousand hours a year. Under the new broadcast indecency law, if I spent even one minute on my show doing something the government deemed indecent, or if one of the verboten words were to slip out onto the airwaves and complaints were filed with the FCC, both I and the radio company I work for could be fined $500,000. A half million dollars for a single instance! Even if that was not a substantial representation of the kind of show I do -- 1 minute out of 60,000 in a year! -- that wouldn't matter.

If I'm being held to that standard -- as CBS was for Janet Jackson's one-second nipple exposure, as NBC was for Bono's fleeting utterance of the F-word at an awards show -- why shouldn't senators and congressmen be held to that same standard? They're the ones setting the rules here, but they won't play by them.

Note that I'm not saying that these companies should get out of the porn business, nor that they don't have the right to make campaign contributions (technically, they're made through corporate PACs, but that's just a loophole in the goofy election laws). I'm saying that when politicians take this money with one hand, they can't use the other hand to slap broadcasters, video game makers, and other content providers, all in the name of "moral values."

Bond is not alone in this. Joe Lieberman, who used to hand out Silver Sewer awards to the producers of videos he deemed "immoral," has taken thousands of these porn-tainted dollars. Both Bond and Lieberman, and the others named in the CREW report, should either clean their own houses or leave ours alone.

They won't, which is why I call them hypocrites.

Listen to the conversation with Seligman and Bond here.