- The Washington Times - Friday, June 22, 2001

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, criticized during the presidential campaign for going soft on Hollywood, renewed his role as a critic yesterday in pushing a bill to stop the industry from marketing sexually explicit and violent products to children.
"It is wrong for entertainment companies to market adult-rated materials to children behind the backs of their parents," Mr. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, said at a news conference to introduce a companion House bill for his Senate legislation.
Both bills would prohibit entertainment companies from marketing violent or sexually explicit movies, music recordings and video games to minors. The bills would authorize the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to fine such companies up to $11,000 per day for each violation.
During his campaign for the vice presidency last year, Mr. Lieberman was accused of cozying up to Hollywood moguls, many of whom give large donations to Democratic candidates. He attended fund-raisers with entertainment executives and was quoted as saying Congress would not censor their work.
Asked by The Washington Times if he was now engaging in a "good-cop, bad-cop" routine, Mr. Lieberman replied, "No. I dont think I changed my rhetoric at all, from before the campaign to last years campaign to now. Im really committed to this."
Meanwhile, a group of entertainment figures including big Democratic donors are pressuring Mr. Lieberman and his Senate co-sponsors, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, to abandon their support for the bill.
Actor William Baldwin, president of the Creative Coalition, said the legislation amounts to censorship.
"We appeal to consumers, parents and policy-makers to continue to encourage the entertainment industry to improve its ratings systems and marketing practices through non-legislative actions," he said. "The threat of civil penalties is an extreme reaction to a problem whose solution lies in voluntary self-regulation by the creative industries."
Mr. Baldwin donated $1,000 last year to Mrs. Clintons campaign and $2,000 to the Gore-Lieberman campaign. Others in the group who are substantial donors to Democratic causes include Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, who has given more than $60,000 to Democratic candidates in recent years, according to Federal Election Commission records. She donated $1,000 to Mrs. Clintons campaign.
Clinton spokesman Jim Kennedy said she will not be influenced by the coalitions pressure.
"She respectfully disagrees [with the coalition] on this particular issue," Mr. Kennedy said. "Senator Clinton has had a long-standing interest in the issue of violence in the media and thats why she supported this legislation when it was introduced."
Mr. Lieberman said the coalitions letter did not surprise him. "I was disappointed by it and I respectfully and vigorously disagree," he said. "This just is not censorship. The position of the entertainment industry here is to me incomprehensible."
The House bill was introduced yesterday by Reps. Steve Israel, New York Democrat, and Tom Osborne, Nebraska Republican. The Senate bill as yet does not have Republican supporters.
The FTC issued a report last autumn that said the movie, music and video-game industries deceive parents by routinely marketing violent, adult-rated products to children.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide