Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Thursday, February 26, 2004

When Blue is Green

Once again I'm in complete agreement with Mark Evanier, this time with his opinion regarding Clear Channel dismissing Howard Stern from the six CC stations which carry his show due to one of his callers using the "n" word and other offensive crap when asking Stern's guest (Paris Hilton ex-boyfriend Rick Salomon) sexual questions. Let alone the obvious fact that, while Stern's inciteful and may encourage sexist and racist thinking, he probably still can't be held legally responsible for some of his listeners being creeps - or bad comedians, as this listener no doubt he was scoring some points by being "raunchier than thou" (as Mark has mentioned in the past, stuff like this tends to attract people who "just want the spotlight for a little while" and figure their sudden access to a mouthpiece is All About Them rather than about the show they're listening to) - the thing is, it's only six markets out of at least 50 (that number was from back in late 2000), and if CC chooses not to reinstate Stern's show in those markets someone else is bound to pick him up, because he's still a draw (particularly when he's involved in controversy). In terms of trends, Mark observes of CC, "Somehow, I can't see them imposing decency standards on the rock music business and still retaining their colossal market share." And in essence that's what it's all about, and what the MTV halftime show is all about, and what the vast majority of advertainment has been about nigh unto forever. Sex sells, and controversy sells. Blue material rakes in the green. In our hyper-capitalist society, the quest for market share will almost always outweigh both professed prudence and prudery.

Update #1: Digby ties this in brilliantly with the gay-marriage "issue" over at American Street.

Update #2: And a Billmon reader who listened to the show in question has an interesting report: "In the segment leading up to [the] one that got him in trouble he was on a brillant satirical riff... that ended with him telling the audience that Bush had to go and that he was a one-termer just like his father. It was overtly anti-bush in tone... He was pulled the next day." (And Lis Riba corroborates this in her comment!) Coincidence that the corporation run by Bush buddy Lowry Mays only now suddenly discovers that Stern's, oh horrors!, a shock jock?

Update #3: Digby has some of the transcript from that show featuring Stern talking about Al Franken's book.