Point-counterpoint on the Nipplegate decision


Two watchdogs weighed in on the Third Circuit decision to uphold its earlier ruling which tossed the FCC’s $550K fine that it levied against CBS in the wake of the Janet Jackson Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction. MAP said the court got it right, and PTC was outraged.

Jay Schwartzman, Senior Vice President and Policy Director of Media Access Project, stated, “Like the “wardrobe malfunction” itself, there is less here than meets the eye. The majority held that the FCC improperly attempted to change its ‘indecency’ policies in applying them to CBS.  The decision is a reminder that the FCC can’t change its enforcement policies in the face of public pressure, and that it needs to take special care when First Amendment rights are at issue.”

PTC President Tim Winter had a different take. He said, “Today’s ruling reaches the level of judicial stupidity and is a sucker-punch to families everywhere. In rendering an opinion it wishes to foist on the nation, the Third Circuit has chosen to ignore the law, the facts, Supreme Court precedent, the intent of the Congress and the will of the American people.”

Winter continued, “Despite the reality of what happened, the Third Circuit suggests that the FCC’s ruling was ‘counter to the evidence before the agency.’ In the Court’s eye, what exactly could be more shocking or more deserving of a broadcast indecency charge?  We urge the FCC and our nation’s High Court to include this outrageous Circuit Court opinion in its judicial review of the broadcast decency law, which is currently before the Court.”

RBR-TVBR observation: This is yet another incident where PTC has awarded itself the honor of speaking for the American people. Nonsense. PTC does not speak for the parents at RBR-TVBR. And from what we can tell, the average parent, far from being outraged by Janet Jackson’s half-second foible, is simply surprised the issue is still kicking around.

Please notice that Mr. Schwartzman was content to color in the lines – he saw the court case for what it was – the FCC making rules without a rulemaking proceeding, that the Court correctly shot it to pieces.

But there goes PTC, wildly claiming once again that it knows the “will of the American people.” Our American judiciary system, called by many the greatest in the history of human governance, and established by the will of the American people PTC professes to understand so thoroughly, is labeled as stupid.

We are Americans, PTC, and we assure you that you do not have the first inkling about our will, and you do not speak for us. Our respect for the First Amendment is great, whereas yours seeming is not.

By the way, as we wrote back in 2004, our daughter saw the Super Bowl incident as it happened. She has managed to make it this far without any emotional or psychological scarring whatsoever despite her exposure to this incident. We have not heard of any child anywhere, not a single one, who was damaged by Janet Jackson. So please, just give it a rest.