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This Week: Talk Radio
This Week
February 13, 2004

This week on NOW:

One-in-four Americans get some of their daily news from talk radio. Despite the popular notion of liberal bias in media, the biggest names on the radio airwaves are unabashedly conservative. With the ability of corporate media giants to create conservative radio mega-stars and reach a huge audience, many critics wonder if talk radio is setting the political agenda in America. NOW examines talk radio’s power to change opinion, influence policy, and shape the upcoming elections. Among those interviewed are Portland, Oregon’s conservative radio personality Lars Larson for a look at how his nationally-syndicated radio show is influencing politics and policy locally, as well as West Palm Beach’s liberal talk radio personality Randi Rhodes.

In the wake of Janet Jackson’s infamous halftime show, both the Senate and House held hearings Wednesday on indecency in the media, questioning the FCC, Viacom president and COO Mel Karmazin, and NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. With this week’s Comcast takeover bid for Disney, the second-largest hostile bid in US Corporate history, many critics worry that increasing media consolidation will make it more likely that indecent material will end up on the airwaves. As Big Media gets bigger, will local community standards suffer from a more permissive national standard? NOW heads to Capitol Hill to report.

One person outraged by the Superbowl halftime show was Representative Tom Osborne (R-NE), co-chair of the Congressional Sex and Violence in the Media Caucus, aimed at protecting children from violent images and sexual content in the media. Osborne is the co-sponsor of two bills: one seeks to regulate profane language and another to increase by ten-fold the fines to broadcasters who violate indecency laws. Osborne talks to Bill Moyers about his efforts to combat indecency on our TV and Radio airwaves, and about whether he foresees a decline in decency standards with the rise in media concentration.

NEW YORK TIMES Pulitzer prize-winning financial reporter David Cay Johnston has spent the past nine years exposing loopholes in the tax code. He reports that what American know about their tax system has nothing to do with the reality of it, and readily admits that for most of his 37 years of investigative reporting, he did not understand the tax system himself. David Brancaccio talks to Johnston about some of the surprising things revealed in his new book, PERFECTLY LEGAL: THE COVERT CAMPAIGN TO RIG OUR TAX SYSTEM TO BENEFIT THE SUPER-RICH, AND CHEAT EVERYBODY ELSE.

In Depth

On the Air
Talk Radio: Where Do Americans Get Their News?

Kathleen Hall Jamieson on Talk Radio's Impact

Harry Truman on the campaign trail

Talk Radio Online Resources

The FCC and Congress Face-to-Face on Indecency

American Media Watch Resources

David Cay Johnston

Election 2004: Taxes and Spending


Talk about censorship and the Super Bowl on the message boards.


Learn more about the issues discussed on NOW.

Read the complete transcript.

Streaming Video

[NOTE: RealPlayer is required to view NOW segments.]

Radio Waves — A Look at American Talk Radio (18:43)

TV Nation — Incency in the Media (17:04)

Pulitzer Prize-winning Financial Reporter David Cay Johnston (14:58)


Radio Waves
Producer: William Brangham
Editor: Alison Amron

TV Nation
Producer: Peter Meryash
Editor: Lars Woodruffe

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