[Marxism] Democrats snub Howard Stern
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed May 5 08:18:42 MDT 2004
NY Observer, May 5, 2004
Howard’s Private War
by Joe Hagan
In recent weeks, as Howard Stern mounted his one-man battle against the
Federal Communications Commission and its White House–appointed chief,
Michael Powell over his alleged culture crimes—indecency offenses, they
said—which then translated into financial threats and radio-station
excommunications, he looked to be a man alone.
But on Tuesday, May 4, he found a defender.
Not only a defender but a Republican, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. "I
think Howard Stern is what he is," Mr. Giuliani told The Observer.
"Everyone knows what Howard is like. They listen to his show and then
they’ve made a decision that they enjoy his kind of humor. I think the
F.C.C. or regulatory agencies have better things to look at than that.
And I think it does get very close to inhibiting free speech."
Mr. Giuliani had sat with Howard Stern in his studio on West 57th Street
three times in the last decade, and fielded call-ins, including on the
two anniversaries of Sept. 11, 2001. He said he could not understand the
reticence of political figures to speak on Mr. Stern’s behalf.
"I’m not running for office and I never did quite understand that," the
former Mayor said. "But maybe if I was running for office, I would feel
somewhat different about it. I don’t think so." Mr. Giuliani said he’d
met Mr. Stern’s parents during one on-air appearance. "I met his
parents, who are the nicest people you ever want to meet," he said.
"They are very, very sweet, nice, understated people."
Other than Mr. Giuliani, however, Mr. Stern has been in the wilderness,
not quite a pariah, but not bathing in the warm power light on which the
immensely successful can count in America. Few public
officials—especially those in Washington, D.C.—have been willing to
support the 90’s "King of All Media" since he was dropped from six Clear
Channel Communications radio stations in February and subsequently
threatened with $1.5 million in fines for discussing sex acts with
former Paris Hilton boy toy Rick Salomon.
On the one hand, Mr. Stern’s fight is nothing new: Since 1990, the
F.C.C. has proposed $4.5 million in fines against media companies for
indecency, $2.5 million of which were against Mr. Stern alone, according
to the Center for Public Integrity. But in an election year, during a
war in Iraq, with a religiously inspired President intent on
re-engineering the political center to the right, there appears to be
little to lose for Republicans in attacking as a easy a stereotypical
figure as Mr. Stern—an uninhibited Long Island Semitic O.C.D. sufferer
does not seem to represent a crucial voting block for Mr. Bush—in
consolidating a conservative core. While the F.C.C. works overtime to
pin Mr. Stern to the wall—and if a Senate bill that limits commercial
free speech passes, muzzles him for good—Mr. Stern has been left to
flail and battle on the air with little political capital beyond his
base. His recourse has been to line up his roughly 8.5 million listeners
into a voting militia. "I call on all fans of the show to vote against
Bush," Mr. Stern told his audience. "We’re going to deliver the White
House to John Kerry."
"We are in a war. It’s a cultural war," Mr. Stern said on the air. "The
Republican party used to stand for—and I supported this—less government
in your life, less intervention in your life, less control of your
bedroom and your private life. They no longer stand for that." Talking
about the Senate bill, Mr. Stern said, "I look forward to the day
because those guys will make me bigger than life."
Since he was dropped by Clear Channel, Mr. Stern’s ratings have risen 22
percent in New York in the last three months.
But in Washington, D.C., Mr. Stern has met with relative silence.
Two weeks ago, the committee that runs the National Press Club in
Washington voted down a proposal for Mr. Stern to appear as a guest
speaker, according to two sources familiar with the situation. And, even
though Mr. Giuliani was secure enough to back Mr. Stern, Democratic
politicians, who are de facto aided by Mr. Stern’s diatribes against the
administration of George W. Bush—have been relatively silent. Neither
Senator Charles M. Schumer nor Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has spoken
up for Mr. Stern, nor returned calls to The Observer by press time. But
for Democratic pols, there seems to be too much to lose by getting close
to Mr. Stern. Howard Wolfson, the former spokesman for Senator Clinton,
now a partner at Glover Park Group, said it would have to be a very
controlled environment for him to allow a client to appear on the show.
"You’d want to think pretty hard about it, before you did it," he said.
"I think it would probably require some alteration in the content of the
Governor George Pataki, whose election to office was heavily aided by
Mr. Stern’s support in both 1994 and 1998, also did not respond.
"I haven’t heard from any of those people," said Don Buchwald, Mr.
Stern’s agent. "Since the Democratic National Committee has the luxury
and importance of an editorialist named Howard Stern who is on their
side, they kind of got their cake and are eating it too. Now they don’t
have to endanger anything, because they have Howard’s very clear voice,
who is very important to his constituency and will react to Howard being
as lucid and vivid and intelligent and understandable as he is. So they
At ABC, where Mr. Stern has a deal to produce a one-hour Barbara
Walters–like interview special, Senator John Kerry’s camp declined an
invitation, said the show’s producer, Lee Hoffman. "They weren’t
interested in doing the interview," said Mr. Hoffman, "and they haven’t
been particularly supportive of him."
Describing his conversation with Mr. Kerry’s chief public-relations
official, Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Hoffman said: "If any other person in
America called and said, ‘I want to do a one-hour interview with John
Kerry, in prime time, on one of the four big networks,’ the answer would
have been, ‘Yes, when can we do it?’ So why is it that it was a no for us?"
"It’s somewhat ridiculous that nobody wants to sit down and talk to
somebody, who, in conservative numbers, is talking to 15 to 20 million
unique Americans a week," said Mr. Hoffman. "I think it’s insulting to
the Howard Stern audience, which I’m a member of, and a lot of my
colleagues are, so to suggest that all of us are too stupid to talk to a
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