to NBC: "Dump That Guy Chandler"
By Gil Christner
NEW YORK CITY - In a move critics are calling censorship
by the Bush administration, the White House has demanded that
NBC eliminate the character of Chandler Bing from the hit
TV show, Friends.
Citing a "goofy style, good sense of timing and all-around
likability factor" much greater than that of President Bush,
the Administration, in a strongly worded memo to NBC president
Robert Wright, asked that the character be written out of
future episodes, "preferably due to a horrible bloody accident."
Matthew Perry, the actor who portrays Chandler Bing, was
in rehab and could not be reached for comment. However, this
latest move by the White House precipitated a flurry of opinions
from both sides of the political spectrum. While most Hollywood
and New York critics complain it is only one in a long series
of censorship attempts, some conservative pundits concur with
President Bush's logic.
"Now is not the time for anybody on television to outshine
our Commander-in-Chief" said Bill O'Reilly, of Fox News Network's
The O'Reilly Factor. "That guy Chandler has always
been funnier than the President. What message are we sending
to the Taliban when we let some dopey Hollywood actor steal
the thunder during this national emergency? For God's sake,
we're at war. Give Bush the punch lines."
Others see this as proof of the ever-tightening stranglehold
the Administration is putting on free expression in media.
The networks have already agreed to limit the amount of time
Osama bin Laden is heard on American television. And it was
rumored that the White House chastised NBC for airing an interview
with former President Clinton after the events of September
11. But Howard Kurtz, media critic for the Washington Post,
sees this as going too far.
"Ok, Bin Laden is one thing," says Kurtz. "And nobody ever
liked Clinton, if you don't count the vast majority of the
American public. But what's the point of killing off Chandler?
I mean, what, is he giving out some secret coded message when
he whines about Monica's anal retentiveness? I don't think
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer claims that stunting
humorous dissent is a perfectly acceptable strategy for getting
America behind President Bush's War on Terrorism. "We shut
down Bill Maher, and got Letterman to go back to really lame
jokes about the 99 Cent Store," Fleischer commented. "Leno
was never a threat, Dennis Miller was already on our side,
and Jon Stewart and the Daily Show has been completely turned
around. In fact, the current joke in Washington is, what's
the difference between Jon Stewart and Dan Rather? One is
a big cry baby that will do anything Bush asks him to, and
the other is on CBS."
When asked if that was an example of the level of humor the
American public can expect from the White House in the future,
Fleischer told this reporter, "You're about to be audited
by the IRS."