City Paper is not for tourists
Shit, did you see that story on page A1 of today’s Washington Post? It’s all about the fucking Supreme Court taking up a case having to do with punishing broadcast outlets for using profane language on the air.
Well, let me tell you: The goddamn Post is the last outlet on earth that should be writing about obscenity on the airwaves. The paper, after all, can’t print any of the relevant content.
Blame this SOB.
That’s right, it was Eugene Meyer who decreed, like, seven principles for running the Post.
Principles three and four say the following:
*As a disseminator of news, the paper shall observe the decencies that are obligatory upon a private gentleman.
*What it prints shall be fit reading for the young as well as the old.
Those are clearly a bit redundant—where was Meyer’s fucking editor?
Well, whatever the impact of the Meyer principles, one is clear: They sure did hamstring Bob Barnes and Frank Ahrens in today’s piece on the Federal Communications Commission’s efforts to curb bad language on tube. As these two great fucking reporters report, the high court is ruling on whether a “one-time utterance” of an obscene word—e.g., fuck, shit, and many other good ones—on radio or TV during certain hours “is subject to punishment.”
The story refers to how Cher and Nicole Richie used “variations of a vulgar four-letter word” on award shows. Since Meyer won’t let Barnes and Ahrens write about those variations in greater detail, here they are, as reported in the Hollywood Reporter:
During the 2002 show, Cher told the Billboard awards audience, “People have been telling me I’m on the way out every year? So fuck ’em.” In 2003, Richie said: “Have you ever tried to get cow shit out of a Prada purse? It’s not so fucking simple.”
The Post story also recounts another episode that figures into the case law on obscenity—when Bono described a Golden Globe award he’d received as “really, really [expletive] brilliant.” Fill in the blank: “fucking.”
So what’s it like to cover obscenity at the Washington Post? “It’s challenging,” says Ahrens. He says there are whole topic areas that the Post simply can’t touch because it can’t make the language work. “Like the adult film industry…it doesn’t pass the breakfast test,” says Ahrens.
The Post‘s breakfast test is even tough on the news industry’s most popular formulation for ducking “fuck.” According to Ahrens, the paper’s leadership doesn’t like to put the “f-word” in its pages because it believes that doing so is tantamount to swearing. Top editors, however, appear to be OK with quoting a public official who uses such fucking lame dodges. Here, for example, is an excerpt from a December 2003 front-page story by Ahrens:
In a letter to the Parents Television Council after the enforcement bureau’s ruling, FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell wrote: “Personally, I find the use of the ‘F-word’ on programming accessible to children reprehensible.”
I’m telling you: Meyer would be shitting himself over that one.