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 V.13 No.10 | March 4 - 10, 2004 

Thin Line

Heather Wilson's media tour continues. More hilarious news and analysis trickled in from the Internet regarding Congresswoman Heather Wilson's meltdown during a House Telecommunications Committee hearing last month.

Just before Wilson choked up during her tirade (hear the audio at www.alibi.com), she told Viacom CEO Mel Karmazin: "In the same way that Enron highlighted unacceptable corporate behavior from a financial point of view, Viacom's support of shock jocks and allowing tasteless Super Bowl programming is a nationwide entertainment industry scandal."

This of course was a ridiculous exaggeration. Besides, you don't go calling out the shock jocks and expect silence. Howard Stern, a man who's made millions selling vulgarity on his syndicated radio show, began running a mock interview with Wilson on air last week. After the interviewer asks: "How does it feel when I make sweet love to you?" Audio from Wilson's remarks during the House hearing follows: "I thought it was nasty."

Newsweek's Elanor Clift—the squawking liberal on PBS' “The McLaughlin Group”—called Wilson an embarrassing prude on last week's episode, and none of the GOP pundits (not even the hefty guy from the Washington Times) disagreed with her. Then Newsweek's "Conventional Wisdom" column gave Wilson the thumbs down, saying, "New Mexico rep's rabid tongue-lashing of CBS exec makes Janet's boob seem like al Qaeda. Get a grip."

Last but not least, Charles Taylor of Salon.com, opined: "If Wilson is going to pontificate on what's aesthetically offensive, then someone should tell her that green plaid suits look terrible on everybody but OutKast."

Taylor also noted the inherent contradiction in Wilson's claim that the blink-and-you-missed-it boob flash would improve CBS' market share and line Karmazin's pockets. "If this kind of entertainment improves ratings and profits, then it suggests that the people who want it dwarf the 200,000 who lodged complaints about it," wrote Taylor. "If it's the government's job to listen to the voice of the people, then we have to acknowledge that the number of people who listen to Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, Nelly, P. Diddy and Kid Rock far exceed those who'd prefer the halftime show go back to marching bands."

Sure, Timberlake's stunt was offensive if you consider that grade schoolers were watching and might think it's OK to attempt their own wardrobe malfunction trick on the playground. But isn't that why sensible parents are supposed to explain decency and respect to their kids in the era of Fox television? The fact is, if Americans want trash TV (which they obviously do) then Rubert Murdoch, Mel Karmazin and their colleagues will be happy to sell it to them. Still, considering Wilson's over-reaching attempt to work the controversy to her benefit, and her polling numbers allegedly show she is more popular with men than women voters in the district, Thin Line wonders if she didn't think her weeping renunciation of CBS would win over a few new soccer moms during this election season.


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