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Getting offended is a lot easier than it used to be. With just a click or two, radio listeners and TV viewers can file a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. Last year, according to records Washington City Paper obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, radio and TV stations in the D.C. area were the subject of nearly 200 complaints. Here’s a look at the highlights. (So far, the FCC hasn’t sanctioned anyone for any of them.)
Stop those fetus ads!
The complaint: Most complaints were about the anti-abortion campaign ads run by Missy Reilly Smith, the Republican challenger to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, which featured graphic images of aborted fetuses.
Who did it: WRC-TV (Channel 4), WJLA-TV (Channel 7), WTTG-TV (Channel 5), WDCA-TV (Channel 20), WUSA-TV (Channel 9).
THIS IS THE MOST DISGUSTING POLITICAL AD I HAVE EVER WITNESSED IN MY 61 YEARS ON THIS PLANET, and I find it, disclaimer or not, totally unacceptable, and in the poorest of taste—free speech or not, this is simply inappropriate, especially for children. • AGAIN with the aborted fetuses during dinner!! • Fox (WTTG) managed to lower the tastelessness and depravity bar so low tonight that it is now near the upper reaches of Hell. • I literally vomited. • Is there a more disturbing and upsetting image than DEAD BABIES? I think not.
Tony Kornheiser, Bicycle Killer
The complaint: Last March, Tony Kornheiser was bashing the Pennsylvania Avenue NW bike lanes, and mused: “You get in Rock Creek Park and three or four of these people start riding abreast, and I swear to you it’s all you can do to not RUN THEM DOWN, like Wile Coyote’s, run them over.”
Who did it: WTEM-980 and other Red Zebra broadcasting stations that carry Kornheiser’s show.
Using public airwaves to advocate violence against cyclists is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. • His right to broadcast should be investigated with such a comment. • using the radio to advocate killing anyone is not ok
The complaint: President Obama called Kanye West a jackass!
Who did it: WRC
I find it appalling and disturbing that the President of the United States would use offensive language in a national interview. I think NBC should have shown better judgement in choosing to air a swear word during the morning broadcast block. Are other networks/stations allowed to use “ass” in morning programming? Is the president exempt from following decency laws? I would like to see action taken against the news department of NBC for this incredibly poor decision.
For more complaints, see City Desk. Illustrations by Brooke Hatfield.