Howard Stern was partially silenced today - by himself. The King of All Media signed on this morning with a montage of radio station promos and soundbites from Talk shows and government officials speaking about the raging debate over indecency. The dramatic audio collage was laced with snippets fom protest songs, like Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son," Bob Marley & The Wailers' "Get Up, Stand Up," Thunderclap Newman's "Something In The Air" and Stern's own remix of KoRn's "Y'All Want A Single."
It wasn't until roughly 7:15am EST that Stern spoke his first new words of the day, though they came in the form of a recorded message to Stern show producer, Gary Dell'Abate. "I want to try and put together a show where I don't talk," Stern said in the message, explaining the morning's unusual opening 90 minutes. "It's one of those rare instances where I think we have to put together a special show, because they are really f**cking with us."
After another 15 minutes of montage, Stern finally cracked the mic to the tune of "Born In The U.S.A." by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band. "It's the end of free speech," said Stern, expressing his dismay and shock over yesterday's vote by the House of Representatives on H.R. 3717, the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2004. "It's really the end. This country is nuts and George W. Bush has to go. If you are a fan of mine, and I reach millions of people, just get him out of office. Your rights are being taken away."
"When I got into radio, it was a wasteland of people playing records and news guys not giving opinions," Stern continued. "I got on the air and changed it. I bucked the system. The reason there are freedoms on the air today is because of what I did. Period. End of sentence. I fought everyone who ever said to me, 'You can't do what you are doing on the air.' I've been fighting it for 25 years so jerk-offs like Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and the whole lot of them could get on the air and have a party. I'm all for it and all for free speech, but remember who got you there. It's not the guys who didn't take risks. It's the guys who are on the front line. Rush Limbaugh wasn't on the frontlines of Vietnam because of his knee injury and he wasn't on the frontlines of the radio industry when I was breaking down all the walls. The same with Bill O'Reilly. He was an anchorman sitting there behaving himself and then they all saw what radio could be and what television could be and what it's like to express themselves. And now they all sit idly by."
The opening marathon montage included audio from a speech by NY Congressman José E. Serrano from yesterday's debate prior to the House vote. "The big question on this bill is 'Why now?' There are enough laws in place and regulations to deal with this issue," Serrano said. "I feel that some of the good, well-intentioned members have been caught up in this desire to all of a sudden clear up the airwaves. I believe it is a distraction. It is a weapon of mass distraction to keep us away from the real issues at hand. The fact is, that this part of my opinion of the continuing thinking of the Patriot Act, the philosophy of the Patriot Act, that says we will read your e-mails, we will find out what you take out from the library. We will hold you in detention without charges or a lawyer and we will then tell you what you can listen to on the radio. Now, let's understand something, the target here is coming from the political and religious right and it is directed only at that which they think is bad, anti-American, or indecent. Right-wing radio which demonizes liberals, minorities, environmentalists, pro-choice and animal rights activists, they are fine, they will not be touched. And let me for the record say, I support their right to say whatever they want about me and other liberals.
"The main target these days is Howard Stern," Serrano continued. "What does Howard Stern have to do with this issue and the political agenda? For years, he supported the administration on the war. He supported the administration on capital punishment. He supported the administration on just about everything. The last couple of months he has had a change of heart and started opposing the war, opposing the opposition to [stem cell] research, opposing the opposition to pro-choice and all of a sudden, he's in deeper trouble than he has ever been in before. How else can we explain that the day before his bosses, Clear Channel, were to face a congressional committee, they fired him from six markets throughout this country? The FCC has been complaining about his locker humor jokes for years. Some people have suggested that he was not in good taste for years. But now the big bang to get him off the air? Was he okay when he was supporting the administration? How did Clear Channel decide to knock out its number one money maker one day before facing Congress? I wish I was the telephone company and could have heard those phone calls coming in with the political pressure. My friends, this is a dangerous time. This bill should be defeated. If for no other reason to send a message that there is something larger here at work than simply something you don't like. What I don't like, may be something you like and vice versa. The best protection we have is not this bill. Just turn the channel, switch the station."
Stern also said this morning that ABC put in a request for FCC Chairman Michael Powell to be a guest on his first interview show. The reply was a curt: "We thank you for your invitation. We regretfully decline your interview request at this time."