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Bush to NBC: "Dump That Guy Chandler"
October 15, 2001
By Gil Christner

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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 so."

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."

 
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