Kerry’s On Cable’s Side


When it comes to indecency issues, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is apparently in cable’s camp.

The Democrats’ presumptive presidential candidate, speaking during an interview slated to debut on C-SPAN yesterday (June 6), said he does not favor government intervention of what people should be able to buy for viewing in the privacy of their own homes.

“I think there is a distinction between public broadcast and the notions we’ve had historically about family time, family hour, and what you buy privately and personally,” he told C-SPAN executive vice president and co-chief operating officer Susan Swain in a transcript provided by the public-affairs network.

“I am not in favor of government interference and censorship and restriction of what an individual privately can decide to do in their home, in their own space, so to speak.”

At the same time, Kerry also seems to back the moves being made to revise indecency standards on the free, over-the-air side of the ledger — “where you have children involved — where you have a broader cross-section of the public where there is sort of a sense of family time or hour.”

To that end, he felt the reaction to Janet Jackson’s breast-baring incident at halftime of Super Bowl XXXIX was justified.

“I don’t think that was exaggerated. I thought that was in poor taste and wrong — wrong venue, wrong timing, wrong place, wrong audience,” he told Swain. “So, there are some standards and pretty generally people should know what they are.”

Still, Kerry said regulators must walk a very fine line.

“You’ve got to be very careful about the government interfering and deciding in specific instances, but I think you can create a broad framework within which people are trying to operate and that’s what I’d try to do,” he said. “I think it’s a balance. … Always a balancing act. And you have to balance freedom of expression, free speech with the impact on young people and the values that you are trying to promote.”

During the interview, Swain pointed out that Kerry had missed the Senate vote last fall concerning the overturning of FCC chairman Michael Powell’s media rules.

Kerry replied: “Right, but I declared myself completely in favor of it. I wasn’t there for the vote, but I was 100% in favor of overturning his rule.”

Asked by Swain about his philosophic views on media concentration, Kerry called it “dangerous. I think you want broad ownership. I don’t want that restricted further. I think that too much media in the hands of one powerful entity or one individual is a mistake.”

“I think it runs counter to the foundation of our country,” he continued. “I think it runs counter to the need for Americans to know that they are getting news and information from multiple sources that are not singularly controlled.”

Swain also asked candidate Kerry if he’d continue to be interviewed by radio host Don “Imus in the Morning” Imus if he were elected president. Kerry chose Imus’s show, which is simulcast on MSNBC, to deny a rumored affair with a former intern. Imus also has vigorously endorsed Kerry.

“Absolutely,” Kerry said, when asked if he’d continue to call the program.

Why? “I think he is a great interviewer,” Kerry said in part. “I’m not sure I could do it as frequently, or would, but I think it’s important not to shy away from that kind of thing if you are president. I think that people want to see you, hear you, know what you’re thinking and you are not suddenly on some pedestal. Yes, I’ll do it. Sure.”