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Senator Lautenberg Calls for Censorship Hearings - Disney

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Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 05:38 AM
Original message
Senator Lautenberg Calls for Censorship Hearings - Disney
Senator Lautenberg Calls for Censorship Hearings after Disney Refuses to Release Documentary because of Fear of Political Retribution

Calls Disney Incident Latest in a Disturbing Pattern of Corporate Censorship of News Broadcasts and Films

WASHINGTON, DC In light of the most recent incident involving the Disney Company United States Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) called for hearings of the Senate Commerce Committee to look into the pattern of politically based corporate censorship of the news media and the entertainment industry.

In his letter to Commerce Committee Chairman Senator John McCain (R-AZ) requesting a hearing Lautenberg wrote, "While corporate leaders rarely exercise discretion over gross indecency or violence, we have seen a number of corporate conglomerates censor material recently based on political content."

The most recent episode Senator Lautenberg cites in his letter to Senator McCain involves the Disney Company. Disney, which is currently distributing "Kill Bill" one of the most violent movies in history, is refusing to distribute the new film by Michael Moore because it is critical of President Bush. Also Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns several ABC affiliate stations, preempted the April 30th edition of ABC News' Nightline, because Sinclair believed that the edition would be critical of the Iraq War. Also, CBS, which aired a notoriously indecent Super bowl halftime show, refused to air an advertisement by MoveOn.org during the Super bowl broadcast because of its political content, and censored the entire mini-series, "The Reagans," after complaints from conservative organizations.

"This is a fundamental question of free speech in our society," said Senator Lautenberg. "As our troops are overseas fighting to give the Iraqi people the very freedoms we enjoy, we see some of this country's largest media conglomerates undermining our freedoms here."

Lautenberg's letter to Senator McCain is attached to this release.

May 5, 2004

Honorable John McCain

Chairman

Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman McCain:

I am writing to request that the Committee hold a hearing on the disturbing pattern of politically based corporate censorship of the news media and the entertainment industry in recent weeks. While corporate leaders rarely exercise discretion over gross indecency or violence, we have seen a number of corporate conglomerates censor material recently based on political viewpoint.

The most recent episode involves the Disney Company. Disney, which is currently distributing "Kill Bill" one of the most violent movies in history, is refusing to distribute the new film by Michael Moore because it is critical of President Bush. Also, Sinclair Broadcast Group preempted the April 30th edition of ABC News' Nightline, because Sinclair believed that the edition would be critical of the Iraq War. CBS, which aired a notoriously indecent Superbowl halftime show, refused to air an advertisement by MoveOn.org during the same Superbowl broadcast because of its political content. In addition, CBS censored an entire mini-series, "The Reagans," after complaints from conservative political activists.

As you know, the Supreme Court has stated that censorship of news media and political expression are the most dangerous forms of suppression of speech in our society. See New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U. S. 254, 270 (1964). I am concerned that Americans are facing an emerging threat of political censorship not from the government but from some of our nation's largest corporations.an

Thank you for consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg

http://lautenberg.senate.gov/~lautenberg/press/2003/01/...
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KissMyAsscroft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 05:52 AM
Response to Original message
1. Lautenburg gets the spine award!


Man, this guy rocks!
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Cursive_Knives512 Donating Member (423 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 05:54 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I second that!
Good for him! I hope McCain speaks up, too.
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asthmaticeog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 07:21 AM
Response to Reply #2
14. McCain already spoke up
about the Sinclair/Nightline incident. What will make it really interesting is if McCain points out in a nice big public on-the-record forum that Disney ALSO made a statement against Sinclair's attempt to suppress news.
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Bandit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 10:32 AM
Response to Reply #14
24. Disney didn't censor because they felt the content was inappropriate
They censored because they were threatened by the Governor of florida with the loss of tax incentives. It was a Government form of censorship and not Corporate.
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 06:06 AM
Response to Original message
3. Good for Lautenberg!
God bless those who get old enough to fear none.
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dusty64 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 06:39 AM
Response to Original message
4. He definitely has found
his voice and I LOVE what he's saying. I hope this movement against corporate censorship picks up steam and something can be done about it.
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LeahMira Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 06:42 AM
Response to Original message
5. Bravo Senator Lautenberg!
FINALLY someone is connecting the dots and pointing out the pattern. I'm writing him an e-mail to tell him how grateful I am, because all of our representatives and senators need that positive pat on the back when they are doing something good... and it will be good to write to say something nice.
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Q Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 06:45 AM
Response to Original message
6. Lautenberg correctly sees 'partisan corporate politics' in play...
Edited on Thu May-06-04 06:46 AM by Q
...and this is nicely demonstrated when the Disney Empire will gladly release a violent film like 'kill bill' but refuses to offer something critical of THEIR president. This is all about politics and censoring the opposition.

- We're witnessing what happens when corporations take over the free press and favor one political party over another.
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ShaneGR Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 07:20 AM
Response to Reply #6
13. Boy, Disney sure has you fooled
And so does Michael Moore. Amazing isn't, how easy it was for the group to get all this free publicity for the movie. Disney's gonna make a fortune.
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rucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 10:06 AM
Response to Reply #13
19. Yep! That's what I smell.
Expect a release from Disney, due to "overwhelming demand".
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AP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 10:35 AM
Response to Reply #13
25. If Disney, in fact, does not distribute the film and Miramax does it...
...through Excalibur or some other single-purpose distribution company, Disney won't make any money from it.

The movie will ultimately make the distributor probably about 25-30 million bucks if it does as well as Bowling for Columbine. Disney might decide to take a pass on that money.

But the ultimate distributor and Moore stand to make a ton of movie thanks to Disney's fears.

What wouldl be interesting is if Disney backs down, because then they'll be able to keep the money and pretend to Republicans that they tried to stop the movie.

And then it would be interesting to see if Republicans in congress punish Disney next time the mickey mouse copyright extension acts comes up for renewal in about 20 years.
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ALago1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 06:51 AM
Response to Original message
7. This man is on fire!!!
Makes me proud to be from NJ!!
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Kahuna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 06:55 AM
Response to Original message
8. Frankie! Frankie! Frankie! What an improvement over Torricelli!
Edited on Thu May-06-04 06:56 AM by Kahuna
God bless you, Sen. Lautenberg! I love Frank! :loveya:
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FlashHarry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 07:00 AM
Response to Original message
9. It'll never happen.
While I agree with Sen. Lautenberg, he is, unfortunately, in the minority in the Senate. These hearings will never happen.

The other thing is, while I totally, utterly disagree with Disney's decision, it is still their prerogative not to release the film. Moore and Miramax should simply negotiate to find another distributor. After all this press, they will be lining up to do it, too. And, the delay will push the film's release closer to the election. No matter how you slice it, this decision was bad for Disney and even worse for Bush. Personally, I think it's great!
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hang a left Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 07:17 AM
Response to Original message
10. Something doesn't sit right with this story.
Edited on Thu May-06-04 07:19 AM by liberalnproud
Lautenberg has received several campaign donations from Mike Eisner. I think that all the bruhaha about Farenheight 9/11 are free publicity stunts, and that it will be released, probably just in time for the Summer.


:tinfoilhat:



I edited the stupid thing because it made no sense.
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Justice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 07:18 AM
Response to Original message
11. Two Additional Points

Gotta love the irony of Disney supporting Kill Bill Vol 2 --- but not Moore.

Also, this controversy will actually help promote the movie - much like Gibson's The Passion - all of this "free" press will help generate interest in the movie. Because the movie is expected to make significant dollars - we can expect shareholders to weigh in as well. After all, Moore's Columbine film grossed $100 million plus and cost only about $6 million or less to make.

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Killarney Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 07:18 AM
Response to Original message
12. STANDING OVATION!
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fujiyama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 07:23 AM
Response to Original message
15. I'm really liking
Lautenburg. He's been kicking quite a bit of ass recently. It's nice to know that age hasn't slowed either him or Byrd down.

Anyone see him with the chart with the picture of the chickenhawks and then he had the guts to call Cheney the main one. Pure genius!



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LynneSin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 07:27 AM
Response to Original message
16. I insist that everyone write their senators & representatives about this..
...ask them to back this important hearing. I'm going to send letters to Biden, Carper and Castle asking just this!
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Kahuna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 09:51 AM
Response to Reply #16
18. The good thing about living in NJ...
We know that Corzine and Lautenberg will come down on the right side of Democratic issues at least 99% of the time. They rock!
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izzie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 07:49 AM
Response to Original message
17. Good some one will still speak about such things Question?
Will any one be checking what Bush will say to the Right Wing Christians in the meeting we will not be able to see?
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Lorien Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 10:08 AM
Response to Original message
20. Bravo Senator! Now it's our turn
to forward his letter to our reps and the media with our supportive commentary attached!
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bmbmd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 10:11 AM
Response to Original message
21. Here a McCain, there a McCain, everywhere a McCain-
seems like he is the de facto president of the United States. His opinions, freely given, are much more available and frankly more realistic than old what's his name on the pig farm.
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Anon Donating Member (38 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 10:14 AM
Response to Original message
22. Moore, and more grandstanding.
Edited on Thu May-06-04 11:48 AM by Skinner
Sure looks like it.

Just days from the opening of the Cannes Film Festival he's basking in a wave of publicity that the Walt Disney Company is blocking subsidiary Miramax from distributing his new documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" on political grounds.

Publicity-hound Moore's allegations about Disney ring false. The very same Disney Company -- through its Hyperion division-- just published Pacifica Radio host Amy Goodman's new book "The Exception to the Rulers" - a volume brimming with just as much lefty fringe politics and anti-Bush theorizing as contained in Moore's films. Indeed, Goodman's book is a blunder-buss assualt on corporate media conglomerates-- like Disney!

The Mouse House seems sophsiticated enough to put up with and even finance the slapshots by Goodman and Moore if a profit is to be made. Duh!

Dissecting the current dust-up, it seems clear that Disney never intended to distribute Moore's film. Maybe the Mousketeers are cowards, but at least they are consistent. And Moore is whining now only to hype the pre-Cannes buzz. Sources report that Miramax never planned to release the Moore film, that it was always slated to come out through Lions Gate, as did the earlier Dogma.

Below find an exclusive full text copy of the article by Andrew Gumbel which will appear in Thursday's London-based daily The Independent which quotes inside sources saying there is nothing new in Disney's red light, that Moore knew it was a no-go from the outset. After you've read Andrew's piece take a look at this L.A. Weekly column I wrote in March describing Moore as the Ann Coulter of the left.

By Andrew Gumbel

Los Angeles

Michael Moore, the establishment-bashing comedian and film-maker, accused the Walt Disney Company of political censorship yesterday because the company is refusing to distribute his latest documentary lambasting the Bush administration's handling of national security since 11 September.

Controversy over the film, entitled Fahrenheit 911, erupted on the front page of the New York Times and elsewhere just days before Mr Moore is due to take the film to the Cannes Film Festival for its world premiere.

In an open letter to supporters, Mr Moore accused Disney of trying to kill the film, which is being produced by the Disney subsidiary Miramax, because the company was worried about its business interests in Florida and did not want to offend Governor Jeb Bush, the president's brother.

"I would have hoped by now that I would be able to put my work out to the public without having to experience the profound censorship obstacles I often seem to encounter," he wrote. "For nearly a year, this struggle has been a lesson in just how difficult it is in this country to create a piece of art that might upset those in charge."

EDITED BY ADMIN: COPYRIGHT

http://www.marccooper.com/
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Neecy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 10:30 AM
Response to Original message
23. hmmm
Here's the important part: "...hearings of the Senate Commerce Committee to look into the pattern of politically based corporate censorship of the news media and the entertainment industry."

Whatever you think of the Moore controversy, this whole topic could be explosive, and the key to it is McCain. I'd encourage everyone (especially AZ DU'ers) to write and call McCain's office to support such hearings. He's about the only Republican to buck the tide and expose some of what's been going on.
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truebrit71 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 10:35 AM
Response to Original message
26. Thank you Senator Lautenberg for showing the other pink-tutu's
..how it should be done....

Where are Daschle? Lieberman?

First it was "chickenhawks" and now it is "corporate censorship"...way to go!!!

Keep up the good work....you are doing us proud sir....
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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 11:10 AM
Response to Original message
27. Applause to Senator Lautenberg! He's old enough to remember McCarthy
and sees what's coming down the pass. Applause to him for trying to head it off. But, does anyone think McCain will do anything with this?

Dream On! I think this will be the proof that many of us have tried to say when folks kept pushing McCain to be Kerry's VP.

Wait and see what McCain does with this. He's powerful. He could make a difference, but will he. He seemed to be fine with Michael Powell's policies over at FCC. Even when all our activist efforts tried to overturn Media Deregulation it stalled. Not, McCain's fault, but then what did he do to help then.

:toast: to Lautenberg.
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karabekian Donating Member (287 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 11:15 AM
Response to Original message
28. this is a publicity stunt
Moore knew that they wouldn't distribute his film. He calls of censorship are calculated to maximize the impact of his film and build excitement. it has worked. I am also against the government haveing anything to do with what a company does or doesn't chose to release.
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