September 9, 2006

"You can't fix it. You gotta yank it."

Says Sandy Berger, who should know about yanking. He's a yanker of historic proportions.

I wonder what brainstorming went into the choice of the word "yank," which seems to be roundly favored by those who want to pressure ABC to withdraw its docu-drama "Path to 9/11." You know how the Democrats are obsessed with framing.

Yank! It'll make censorship seem positively patriotic -- the Yanks are coming! -- and kinda sportsmanlike -- how about those Yanks?

250 comments:

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dreamingmonkey said...

Anne - I stand corrected on the 'license' versus 'network' issue. Though now I am having even more trouble parsing the 'threat' in Reid's letter, which states that

"The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest."

I'm not a communications lawyer, maybe somebody can clarify..

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dreamingmonkey said...

and I apologize for misspelling your name in the above post

Brent said...

geoduck2

Michael Kinsley describes himself as someone on the "left" of the political spectrum. Do you remember that he at one time hosted Crossfire on CNN, introducing himself as "on the left"?

Care to try again . . .?

Note: this has been great fun. I must leave for an appointment, so, geoduck2, I will have to await your answer until late this evening.

vnjagvet said...

DreamingMonkey:

I guess you did not recognize the code words in the Senatorial letter:

For example:

"Presenting such deeply flawed and factually inaccurate misinformation to the American public and to children would be a gross miscarriage of your corporate and civic responsibility to the law, to your shareholders, and to the nation.

The Communications Act of 1934 provides your network with a free broadcast license predicated on the fundamental understanding of your principle obligation to act as a trustee of the public airwaves in serving the public interest. Nowhere is this public interest obligation more apparent than in the duty of broadcasters to serve the civic needs of a democracy by promoting an open and accurate discussion of political ideas and events. [...]"

I linked the full letter in an earlier comment.

JorgXMcKie said...

Well, it should at least be fun trying to threaten dreamingmonkey. Evidently, anything short of pulling a pistol, firing it at his feet while screaming, "Dance little sissy-boy, dance!" would go right past him.

I'm sure that if he were engaging in an activity disliked by, say, a crime boss and one of the boss' minions said, "It'd be a shame if anything bad happened to your beloved, elderly mother" he'd interpret that as a sincere desire that his beloved, elderly mother be safe from harm.

There's no explaining to those who won't understand.

Troy said...

dreamingmonkey... the threat is veiled. The license is predicated on their trusteeship. Reid thinks they are violating said trust -- therefore their license can be called into question.

Reid, bseides being full of hot air in general, is wrong -- ABC has no license, but KABC, in LA, does for example. How much more easily would it be to pick off little stations here and there without so much as an NYT or LA Times peep?

The person that talks the most is usually (not always)the one with something to hide -- parenting and policing 101. The Clintons have something to hide (again).

Come on Ruth Anne -- the ACLJ is a religionist (I hate Ann's use of that term -- it has a "Zionist" ring to it -- though I know you don't mean it that way AA) Christian organization that wants to set up a theocracy and force women to have babies.

Derve said...

And of course, now I plan to watch the show, which I wouldn't have done otherwise.

And you weren't going to watch Katie Couric's opening night performance either.

You and that TV set. *w*

SMGalbraith said...

, but I feel pretty confident that ABC is not going to have its broadcasting license revoked over this.

As Ann pointed out, ABC doesn't lose its license. Stations that broadcast the program will/could have them, if not revoked (doubtful), not renewed.

What about the "chilling effect" of such a letter?

Look, the Senators are saying two things:

(1) This program must be pulled (not edited or corrected; but pulled) because it's factually inaccurate;

(2) ABC and its affiliates have a legal obligation to broadcast fair and accurate programs.

That's certainly clear to me. If ABC shows this factually inaccurate program, the letter implies, they are violating the law.

"Chilling effect" anyone?

SMG

AJ Lynch said...

Knoxgirl said :

"Michael Moore...shits .....every few years."

Hm, I wonder if that explains his weight problem.

The Drill SGT said...

VNJAGVET,

I also thought this cloing section had a message:

Should Disney allow this programming to proceed as planned, the factual record, millions of viewers, countless schoolchildren, and the reputation of Disney as a corporation worthy of the trust of the American people and the United States Congress will be deeply damaged. We urge you, after full consideration of the facts, to uphold your responsibilities as a respected member of American society and as a beneficiary of the free use of the public airwaves to cancel this factually inaccurate and deeply misguided program.

Aspasia M. said...

Michael Kinsley describes himself as someone on the "left" of the political spectrum. Do you remember that he at one time hosted Crossfire on CNN, introducing himself as "on the left"?

Care to try again . . .?


I watched loads of Crossfire in highschool with my liberal, debate team friends.

Well, you asked me my opinion. We were often annoyed at Kinsey. And we classified him as center, not as the left.

I understand you have a different opinion. That's OK. But we obviously have a radically different critique of the mass media.

I bet a lot of people, like my debate team friends, grew up and are now writing liberal blogs. (The mass media drove me nuts as a high school and college student. I'm not alone -- the mass media spurred a lot of people from my generation to critique the media from a liberal point of view.)

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aspasia M. said...

I'm sure there are others. It was one example to GeoDuck's challenge.

And it was a helpful example.

Citizens should depend upon groups that are specialized to protect civil liberties.

I don't know anything about that particular group -- but my major point was that it is folly to expect a single political party to be a "free speech" anything. A political party will always be a political party.

dreamingmonkey said...

It's not like some mobster threatening my dear old granny. It's a senator writing a letter to Disney. I don't think there's any precedent whatsoever for the belief that a big network or a small station would be punished by the government for broadcasting unpopular or politically incorrect material in this country. And I can't imagine anyone at Disney or at a smaller station fearing LEGAL consequences over this, such as the loss of future broadcasting rights, based on that letter. If a smaller market decides to drop the series over this, as unlikely as that is, it's going to be because of political pressure (in the soft sense), not because they are fearing for their license.

I guess you can see veiled threats everywhere if you want. But I see a big difference between a scolding and a threat. The chance of anyone being denied their legal rights over a decision to broadcast this is zero. Disney's lawyers know that, and smaller networks lawyers know that, and Harry Reid knows that.

knoxgirl said...

"Michael Moore...shits .....every few years."

Hm, I wonder if that explains his weight problem.


It'll be coming out his ears before long.

dreamingmonkey said...

Also, smgalbraith, it is not against the law for the media to present factually inaccurate material! Obviously, if it was there would be no media left...

Ann Althouse said...

Ruth Anne: I might simul-blog, but it would be hard to do without using the TiVo, and I can't do that and watch it on HDTV....

--

On my use of the term "religionist." I reserve it for special occasions, and I mean it to be pejorative.

David said...

Would it help clarify the discussion if we all agreed that the word "BILL" in the BILL OF RIGHTS was short for Bill Clinton?

There are so many inconsistencies in the Democratic platform that failing to connect the associated dots would be negligent. Playing connect the dots adds up to a desperate grab for power at the expense of our collective security. By the way, I wonder where George Soros is in all this?

The democrats are great at breaking events down into discreet bits then arguing them independent of their context.

SMGalbraith said...

Dreamingmonkey:
it is not against the law for the media to present factually inaccurate material! Obviously, if it was there would be no media left...

Good point.

But I don't need to know that. Senators Reid, Durbin et al. apparently do.

I'll "cc" your post to them.

SMG

vnjagvet said...

The difference between a scolding and a threat, my monkeylike friend is that a scolder has nothing but the tongue with which to enforce her desires, while a threatener has some power to effect the future well-being of her subject.

In this case, four Senate "leaders" joined in the letter in question with an indication they were willing to use their (considerable) power and influence in the event their expressed desires (yanking the program) were not fulfilled.

My grandmother "scolded" and my mother "threatened". I knew the difference, even as a two year old. I suspect you know the difference now.

Your arguments to the contrary are not persuasive.

Aspasia M. said...

It's a senator writing a letter to Disney. I don't think there's any precedent whatsoever for the belief that a big network or a small station would be punished by the government for broadcasting unpopular or politically incorrect material in this country

hmm..that's an interesting point.

We should talk about where the actual power lies here. For example, if the FCC is part of the executive branch, do the senators have any actual power over decisions made by the FCC?

Wasn't Michael Powell appointed to the FCC by the Bush admin. Is he still in charge?


If Reid has no actual power over this specific situation -- that makes his letter political posturing or a letter on behalf of his constituents. But it can not constitute a threat.

The Drill SGT said...

Powell is gone

and a Democratic led Senate Commerce Committee after Nov could make life hell for ABC and Disney with subpoenas and hearing. I hear Brimley now:


James A. Wells, Assistant U.S. Attorney General: Tell you what we're gonna do. We're gonna sit right here and talk about it. Now if you get tired of talking here, Mr. Marshal Elving Patrick there will hand you one of them subpoenas he's got stuck down in his pocket and we'll go downstairs and talk in front of the grand jury... Elliot? Jim?... Fine. All right, Elving, hand whichever one of these fellas you like a subpoena and we'll go on downstairs and talk in front of the grand jury.
District Attorney James A. Quinn: Gallagher's a government witness.
James A. Wells, Assistant U.S. Attorney General: Wonderful thing, a subpoena.

James A. Wells, Assistant U.S. Attorney General: Now we'll talk all day if you want to. But, come sundown, there's gonna be two things true that ain't true now. One is that the United States Department of Justice is goin' to know what in the good Christ - e'scuse me, Angie - is goin' on around here. And the other's I'm gonna have somebody's ass in muh briefcase.

Christy said...

So would we all be good with the broadcast if they changed the names? Randy Weiner- Federal Security Advisor and Magdeline Blackleft - Secretary of the Department of International Relations?

The Drill SGT said...

President Randy Weiner

National Security Advisor Absent Minedid

Fenrisulven said...

my major point was that it is folly to expect a single political party to be a "free speech" anything. A political party will always be a political party.

But that was kinda a strawman. I never claimed to depend on Democrats or the ACLU to defend free speech. I claimed that their new campaign slogan should be:

Vote Democrat - Our principles are as flexible as our interns

The Drill SGT said...

or:

Vote Democrat - Our principals are down around our ankles

Revenant said...

Well, you asked me my opinion. We were often annoyed at Kinsey. And we classified him as center, not as the left.

If you're far enough out on the left-wing fringe, anyone looks like a centrist or a right-winger. That's why, for example, Noam Chomsky claims academia and the media display right-wing bias.

But there's no question that Kinsey is solidly in the left of the American political spectrum, regardless of what you and your friends think.

Revenant said...

It's a senator writing a letter to Disney. I don't think there's any precedent whatsoever for the belief that a big network or a small station would be punished by the government for broadcasting unpopular or politically incorrect material in this country.

Um... what? Congress has been bullying the entertainment industry, from top to bottom, for the better part of a century. All of the industry's self-censorship grew out of thinly-veiled threats that, if the industry didn't start censoring itself, Congress would have to "take steps".

Most famously, Hollywood set up the "Hayes Code" of industry censorship (which forbade, among other things, ridiculing religion, disrespecting the American flag, or showing mixed-race relationships) in response to Congressional threats to pass laws restricting film production.

More recently, the comic, video game, and music industries have also been bullied into censoring themselves.

So yes, there's no end of precedent for Congressional bullying of the entertainment industry, and this latest event is an excellent example of the phenomenon.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brent said...

the drill sgt

Thank you for:

Vote Democrat - Our principals are down around our ankles

I laughed so hard 2% milk came out my nose.

BJK said...

ABC7 is owned by the American Broadcasting Company, Inc. The Walt Disney Company owns ABC, Inc.

...that would be the New York Affiliate for the ABC Network, WABC.

http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=stationinfo&id=3293228

Saying they're only threatening the licenses of the ABC affiliates ignores the fact that ABC (like any of the 4 major networks) owns stations in a number of major media markets.

I don't have a whole lot else to add that hasn't been said here already (maybe that Prof. Althouse's treatment of 1L's is very little like the Paper Chase, IIRC...not that I'd recommend coming to class unprepared if any 1L's are reading this).

The funny thing is....fewer people would have watched the show if the Clinton fan club had been able to bite their tongues and let things blow over (which always seemed to be the Clinton stronger suit, puns notwithstanding).

JimNtexas said...

Where were these Democrat censors when CBS was touting clearly forged documents as the centerpiece on 60 Minutes?

Fenrisulven said...

The funny thing is....fewer people would have watched the show if the Clinton fan club had been able to bite their tongues and let things blow over

Yup. And I'm already hearing blogosphere rumors that the unedited episode will be made available for download on the net. Ha.

Redstate already has some clips up:

http://www.redstate.com/911clips

dreamingmonkey said...

All of your examples, especially the Hayes Code which is now the MPAA ratings system, and government meddling in the music and videogame industry, are instances where the government is attempting to impose some kind of moral restraint on those industries. You can like it or not, but as Scalia (I believe) has said, the public has a right to legislate its morality and free speech can have certain limitations or inconveniences to accomodate that.

That is just totally different from the accusations that you are making, which is that Reid and his cohorts (now, just "Congress") are threatening the license or future legal status of a network/affiliate based on the political content of its programming. That would be illegal, corrupt, and a complete abuse of power. As if this is some kind of totalitarian state controlled by the evil Reid govt. who, come November, is going to take ABC off the air. It's not our country, conservatives or democrats, it's just a fantasy.

Aspasia M. said...

But that was kinda a strawman. I never claimed to depend on Democrats or the ACLU to defend free speech.

yeah - Then what's up with all the claims that "Democrats" are "for" free speech and this "shock" that politicians are acting like politicians?

My point was, and is, that one is a fool to be surprised if a state agent attempts to gather power to the state. It's wonderful when politicians voluntarily support civil rights at the expense of state power. But I wouldn't count on it.

In fact, as a political move, this is not so bad as part of a strategic game. Reid not only supports his base -- he is using this move to confront the Republicans on the security issue.

That is why I find it odd when people say "free speech" is a "Democratic party" value. Where did you get that idea? I see free speech as something supported by groups like the ACLU, but not as the first priority of a political party.

Sometimes I think Republicans expect Democrats to not "fight" as dirty in the political arena. But, you know, politicans are politicans, and I don't know why you would expect him to act like a lawyer who volunteers his time for the ACLU.

The ACLU can be in direct conflict with Democratic politicians, and probably should be. Thus the political game played by Reid is not the goal advocated by the ACLU.

(Was there a discussion on this list about the recent troubles PBS had under the Bush administration? It's idle curiosity, but I wonder if those upset about this development felt the same sort of outrage towards the Bush appointees. In this instance state actors did influence the programing of the public air waves and it is an example of how the state did exert control over this particular media.)

Fenrisulven said...

That is why I find it odd when people say "free speech" is a "Democratic party" value. Where did you get that idea?

From the Democrats. Its like..uh.. the main plank in their party platform. Their mizzenmast.

Sometimes I think Republicans expect Democrats to not "fight" as dirty in the political arena.

Don't know where you got that idea. Republicans are reluctant to sport bumper stickers for fear that their tires will be slashed.

Republicans are reluctant to out themselves at work for fear that they will be harassed or fired.

We're not surprised when the Left reverts to form, we're just amazed that they get away with it.

Sushizuki said...

They should have included the scene in which Sandy Berger steals classified material from the National Archives by stuffing it in his socks and then cuts it up with scissors. His deal with prosecutors would have prevented him from complaining about that.

Revenant said...

All of your examples, especially the Hayes Code which is now the MPAA ratings system, and government meddling in the music and videogame industry, are instances where the government is attempting to impose some kind of moral restraint on those industries.

The Hayes Code focused on moral restraint, sure. But it also involved issues of "political correctness", which is what you were asking about -- e.g., the sections forbidding criticism of religion or disrespect of the flag.

That is just totally different from the accusations that you are making, which is that Reid and his cohorts (now, just "Congress") are threatening the license or future legal status of a network/affiliate based on the political content of its programming

Please re-read what I wrote and pay attention this time. Banning the showing of disrespect to the American flag is very much about political content!

michael a litscher said...

downtownlad: Wow - In Fenrisulvan's universe, the Democrats can unilaterally revoke a license despite being in the minority.

All the more reason to keep them in the minority, lest they gain enough power to follow through on their threat.

Point said...

It reminds me of a scene on the Simpsons where a character steals something and says "yoink" and this makes it less awkward to steal it in front of everyone. Its like some kind of social smoother. "Yank" I just censored you. "Yank" I'm kind of scared of the truth you might bring up. "Yank" I'm scared of honest dialogue. "Yank" I'm just kinda scared in general so I lash out and smother statements of any kind. See it makes it almost seem okay.

palmtree said...

"Fenrisulven said...
palmtree: I never said Ed Gillespie was an elected politician. Thats why your analogy is flawed - Ed Gillespie is not part of the government. And you figured it out all by yourself. How cute."

Huh?

First of all, it wasn't an analogy, but a contradiction of your earlier statement that yanking the Reagan program was strictly a grassroots, average joe boycott. Second of all, there was nothing to figure out by myself since I didn't say anything incorrect to begin with. Third of all, I'm not cute.

Any attempt to paint this as unusual and anti-free speech is just kidding themselves. The right do this ALL THE TIME. It's not wrong when they do it and it's not wrong when Democrats do it...it's the way the system is set up. But I guess learning about how the media works is irrelevant when it's a bunch of partisans trying to spin something.

El Presidente said...

In the socialist wonderland this would not be allowed.

Fenrisulven said...

Second of all, there was nothing to figure out by myself since I didn't say anything incorrect to begin with

But you did.

I claimed that Senate Democrats were abusing their power by threatening to yank ABC's license if they refused to edit the film.

You responded that Republicans do it too and cited Ed Gillespie as your example.

I pointed out that Ed Gillespie is not a member of the federal government. Your analogy/comparison/whatever is faulty.

You need to find an example a a Republican Government Official to be able to claim "both sides do it".

palmtree said...

^^^You mean you don't even remember what you wrote???

Here it is for your reference:
"That was not censorship - that was the public complaining loudly and vigorously, threatening to boycott etc. Thats acceptable and I have no problem with the Left doing it to ABC's film."

So Gillespie, a representative of the majority political party for two branches of government, is just another member of the public? Also Eric Cantor led complaints in Capitol Hill. Is this enough or do I need to draw you a diagram?

Fenrisulven said...

So Gillespie, a representative of the majority political party for two branches of government, is just another member of the public?

In this context - Yes.

What part of Government do you not understand? Is Gillespie a memmber of Congress? Does he serve in the Judicial Branch? Does he fall under the Exective Branch? Does he have any power to subpeona ABC execs before congressional hearings to review violations of the Communications Act?

In short, Gillespie cannot abuse his Congressional powers because...wait for it...he is not a member of Congress.

[.....]

Fenrisulven said...

Look Palmtree - since you're being obtuse, I'll make it easier for you.

Lets pretend that YES, a Republican government official [we'll call him Senator Spineless] criticized Farenheit 9-11 and made all kinds of unfair hyperbolic innaccurate statements about the film. He even stated the film should be pulled, and chastised Micheal Moore for making it. Thats his right - its free speech, and I would have no problem with him lobbying against the film.

However, if Senator Spineless [a Republican] threatened to use his Congressional powers to retaliate against Micheal Moore or any outlet that showed his film, THAT WOULD BE WRONG. It would be an impeachable offense in my book.

I don't care if its a Dem or Rep doing it. Its an abuse of power. Thats the difference between you and me - I believe the constitution and the nation trump the GOP. You believe the Democrat party trumps everything. You are willing to ignore threats of government censorship if it serves your party's interest.

palmtree said...

"I don't care if its a Dem or Rep doing it. Its an abuse of power. Thats the difference between you and me - I believe the constitution and the nation trump the GOP. You believe the Democrat party trumps everything. You are willing to ignore threats of government censorship if it serves your party's interest."

Thanks for telling me what I believe. I am a registered Republican so thanks.

Threatening to fine programming that violates FCC code is not a abuse of Congressional power. It is precisely what happens all the time. Revoking licenses is an exaggeration.

For the record, I think it's ridiculous to take these shows off the air. There is absolutely no need for Democrats to do this. It was equally ridiculous when Republicans pressued the Reagan show. But to paint it as something unusual or anti-free speech is absurd.

Fenrisulven said...

Threatening to fine programming that violates FCC code is not a abuse of Congressional power.

What part of ABC's movie violates the FCC code? Or are you saying Congress should fine networks for political commentary they disagree with?

It was equally ridiculous when Republicans pressued the Reagan show.

It was not equally ridiculous. Senate Republicans did not threaten to yank the network's license.

But to paint it as something unusual or anti-free speech is absurd.

It is unusual and anti-free speech. How can you not understand the difference? Government officials interfere with a media broadcast, demand that material they disagree with be edited out, and imply the threat of FCC interdiction if their demands are not met.

How is that any different from telling the media what they can and cannot print?

palmtree said...

"How is that any different from telling the media what they can and cannot print?"

Because print and broadcast are totally different. Censorship is status quo in broadcast. Fining programs you don't agree with is status quo. And unfortunately intimidation is status quo. To my mind it doesn't matter if it is the public or the government censoring TV, the fact that it happens at all is a reality.

If Senate Dems truly used congressional powers to shut down a single license, it would be an overreach. But threatening to use power is not.

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