Monday, March 15, 2004

Howard Stern Declines Rolling Stone Cover.

This morning Howard Stern informed his audience that he was offered the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, but declined the offer, through his agent, and not just any agent, peasblossom, (sotto voce) "superagent," Don Buchwald. Apparently, Stern does not want to be the only face affixed to the decency over the airwaves controversy. And who can blame him as The Passion of The Christ tops the box office for the third week in a row, on its way to becoming the largest R-rated box office draw EVER: bigger than The Matrix!

"I don't want to be on the cover of Rolling Stone because Congress passed (this controverial) law ... it's not just about me," Stern said this morning, then mentioned that although he loves the magazine and Jann Wenner, the issue is about free speech, not about him.

But wouldn't the cover of RS be the perfect place to defend himself? The college frat boy type whose parent buys them an RS holiday gift subscription provides a great platform to speechify on freedom of speech, no? And I am no pal of Jann Wenner, as regular readers of this blog know.

Which brings us round to this argument: Why is Howard Stern mounting such a weak defense of himself? Is the delicate tightropewalk with his ABC contract a factor in his moral calculus? Is he trying not to rock the boat too much as he prepares to lounge in the Barbara Walters chair? Once upon a time, he would have marched an army of influential Nascar dads, policemen, college students, club kids, your garden variety freaks and, last but not least, Long Island construction workers to the nation's capitol to rally against the FCC. Storm the fucking gates of the empire! But no more.

Now, in lieu of excercising the political power we all know he is capable of wielding (think Pataki, think Christie Todd Whitman, he "protests" by not reading live copy on the air, encouraging contributing to John Kerry's campaign fund while noting in the secure form that you are a "Howard Stern Fan'' in the vocation are. And Stern has been asking -- pleading -- for some Edward Murrow to take up the fight in his place. And only the punchdrunk George Carlin replies materializing from the ethers.

Howard, if you want to stand up to the issue of censorship in these increasingly evangelical United States: you are going to have to lead the fight. There are no Ed Murrows anymore, ratings and profit making has trumped prestige and quality in an unprecedented reversal in the newsroom. Stern -- who is angling to be under the aegis of ABC News as opposed to ABC Entertainment whoud know that.

Take up the spirit of the 60s, Mr. Stern, redeem your generation, and fight this as hard as you can.

Then again, if your ABC TV deal is more important than this staple Baby Boomer issue -- free speech -- and you'd rather sell out for the comfy job, bermuda shorts and black socks, well ... you'd have ample company. Boomer's are ironically Eisnehoweresque like that. (PS: They didn't sell out ... they bought in)

Incidentally, it is hugely unlikely that a free speech fight against the US government -- and being on the winning side should Kerry becomes President -- would hurt Stern's job at ABC. Rather the opposite, I would think.

(PS: If you haven't gotten tickets already, get 'em! Prince is doing a secret show tonight at Club Black NYC at around 11 Pm -- via the ultra pretty Ultragirrrl)

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