Stern Takes on FCC Chief
Powell, son of Secretary of State Colin Powell, was taking calls on KGO radio in San Francisco when Stern dialed in to give him an earful. Stern has been on a crusade against Powell and the FCC since April when Clear Channel Communications dropped his show from several markets following a proposed FCC fine of $495,000 fine due to what the commission deemed inappropriate content on Stern's show.
On Tuesday, Stern went on direct attack against Powell. He accused Powell of abusing his power and hampering free speech, as well as being the beneficiary of nepotism. "You kind of sit there and you're the judge and the arbiter, you're the one who tells us what we can and can't say on the air," Stern told Powell on the air. "And I really don't think you are qualified to be the head of the commission. Do you deny the fact that your father got you the job?"
Powell responded "I deny it exceedingly. You can look at my resume if you want, Howard. I think it is a little unfair that just because I have a famous father and other public officials don't that make the assumption that that's the only basis in which I serve in my position." Powell then highlighted his resume which includes a stint as the chief of staff of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division as well as experience as a private attorney.
Powell was appointed to the FCC by Bill Clinton and was elevated to the chairmanship by George W. Bush.
Stern accused Powell of making decisions based on political pressure from the White House, a charge that Powell flatly denied. "Listen, Michael, if I was a friend of George W. Bush, you know if he gave you the word you'd back off of me," Stern said.
"That's ridiculous," Powell replied. "I don't think we've made a crusade against the Howard Stern show."
"Yeah, OK, Michael," Stern replied. "That's why I've received the largest fines in history."
Stern and Powell traded barbs for almost 15 minutes but after Stern hung up Powell told listeners ,"If there are going to be limits [on radio content], someone's going to have to define them and someone is going to have to enforce them."
Stern will not have to worry about the
FCC for much longer. Stern signed a $500 million contract with Sirius Satellite
Radio. Satellite radio is not regulated by the FCC.