Rockefeller declares war on violence


Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) briefly paid tribute to retired Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-SC) as he carried forward the baton in the crusade against media violence. That was the topic at yesterday's hearing at the Senate Commerce Committee, with Rockefeller presiding over a packed house in the absence of Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-ID). Rockefeller was not in the mood to take prisoners. "For too long," he said, "we have heard promises to do better, to put better tools in the hands of parents, to provide more options for families. But none has yielded results. Instead, we have the industry blaming parents for their lack of oversight of children's viewing. This is cowardly, We have a responsibility to do better, a responsibility the government must take seriously." However, although nobody in the room, on either the senatorial or panelist areas, disagreed that there is much to object to in the media, there was no agreement on how best to deal with it. The second speaker at the session was Ranking Member Ted Stevens (R-AK), who poked the first needle into Rockefeller's bubble. "I think we have to tread a lot softer than you think we can," said Stevens, noting the difficulty of putting anything into a law book that the courts would sign off on. As senators filtered in and out of the meeting, only one, Byron Dorgan (D-ND) seemed to offer a ringing endorsement of Rockefeller's position. All others, from both parties, seemed resigned to a cautious approach. Rockefeller has delayed offering a concrete bill to address the issue. However, Rockefeller's Press Secretary Steven D. Broderick noted that this was just the second inning of a nine inning game, so stay tuned for more.

SmartMedia observation: Hollings always seemed fond of reminiscing about just how far back his battle against media violence went. He could quote committee votes, both wins and losses, going back a long time. But he could never get anything passed into law. Unless Rockefeller is able to drum up some more solid support from his colleagues, we suspect he will suffer a similar fate.