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Inside the Beltway

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 9, 2010

THE FCC BOMB

"After the Second Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the Federal Communications Commission's congressionally-mandated authority to enforce the broadcast decency law, industry and media pundits predicted a sharp increase in the amount of profanity on television. Sadly, they were correct," says Parents Television Council President Tim Winter, who has research to share.

Use of profanity is up by 70 percent across all major television networks during what used to be called "the family hour," the group finds in a comparative study of prime times from 2005 to 2010. Use of the bleeped F-word increased by 2,409 percent. Use of the bleeped S-word increased by 763 percent. The study of 252 hours of programming from ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, UPN and the WB/CW, was released Tuesday; see details at www.parentstv.org/profanity.

"Is this a coincidence? Is it an aberration? Or is this exactly the path that broadcasters and the 'creative community' in Hollywood set out when they began launching their legal attacks against the broadcast decency law?" Mr. Winter asks, noting that the offending prurience occurs in scripted rather than live programming, so there's no excuse.

There was a time when prime time had some class. Like, say, Ronald Reagan hosting General Electric Theater. The viewing public pines for more of same. Surveys from the Pew Research Center, Time magazine, the Harris Poll and other pollsters consistently reveal that large majorities of Americans are weary of suggestive fare, violence and even loud commercials -- and favor tighter enforcement of government rules on broadcast content, indecency standards and fines for media companies that go overboard.

"Regardless of what the courts decide, it's time for broadcasters to set parameters and publicly explain their broadcast standards. Advertisers must also ensure that the language they help bring into our living rooms is consistent with their hard-earned corporate brands," Mr. Winter says. "The public airwaves should offer a banquet for all. But increasingly, the broadcast networks are telling American families to swallow whatever they're fed -- or starve."

BOOM AND DOOM

"So if somebody's launching missiles off our coasts, and it's not us, then it's a threat to national security no matter what the Pentagon says," Instapundit Glenn Reynolds notes of the mystery projectile caught on tape by CBS News on Monday, with no military entity officially taking credit for the launch. Mr. Reynolds also says some of his readers at Pajamas Media have suggested that the rocketing object with puffy orange contrails "raises the specter of the greatest single threat to the survival of the United States; namely, an electromagnetic pulse attack that might kill all except 30 million Americans."

Uh-oh.

"Most likely explanation: It's something we did, or are OK with because it was an ally, or some sort of optical illusion making a jet contrail -- perhaps from a high-performance military jet -- look like a rocket launch," Mr. Reynolds reasons. "However, all other explanations are far from benign. And while an electromagnetic pulse attack probably wouldn't be as bad as 'One Second After,' it wouldn't have to be nearly that bad to be very bad indeed."

BUMPER PATROL

"Go green! Recycle Congress."

Bumper sticker spotted in Camden, N.J.

LOST CHAPTERS

Always primed for a Bush bash or two, the mainstream press has chosen to dwell on less noble details of former President George W. Bush's memoir "Decision Points" -- Mr. Bush, plastic bag in hand, cleaning up after his dog, for example. In interest of equal time, excerpts that may not get much play this week:

"Terrorism against our nation will not stand." (Mr. Bush to parents and teachers as he left a Florida elementary school on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001)

Psalm 18:2. "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge." (The Bible passage Mr. Bush read when he awoke on his last day in office)

"Whatever the verdict on my presidency, I'm comfortable with the fact I won't be around to hear it. That's a decision point only history will reach." (The concluding sentence of the book)

"The afterlife." (Laura Bush's term for the family's post-White House days)

THE EUNUCH FACTOR

Only MSNBC's Keith Olbermann knows for sure, perhaps.

"This notion that journalists ought to be sort of political, ideological eunuchs who don't have any political views is just hopeless. The question isn't whether they hold opinions but whether they suppress those opinions to the extent they can when they do their work ... It's a fiction to suppose that reporters don't have political views, and it would be healthier and more honest if they simply said what they were," Politico editor Michael Kinsley told National Public Radio.

With all that in mind, this just in: Comedy Central fake newsman Jon Stewart grants MSNBC's Rachel Maddow "an exclusive interview" on Thursday night, his first appearance on her show.

POLL DU JOUR

- 44 percent of likely voters oppose some House Republicans' intentions to "investigate" the Obama administration's performance to date.

- 40 percent favor the idea, 16 percent are not sure.

- 72 percent of Democrats oppose the investigation plans.

- 66 percent of Republicans approve of them.

- 43 percent of voters overall say the Republicans' plans are "more about partisan policies."

- 43 percent say the plans are intended "to make sure wrong things don't reoccur."

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 voters conducted Nov. 7-8.

Noise, suspicion, happy talk to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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