Today on Happening Now, Fox News anchor Jon Scott led a discussion about a recent Los Angeles City Council resolution condemning racist and sexist languge on the radio. Fox News contributor Judith Miller pointed out that one of the radio stations in Los Angeles, KFI, lacks on-air diversity: “And hey, by the way, you might try hiring a woman because they only have one out of, like, 12 anchors. And you might try hiring a person of color.”
Scott replied that this “goes to the slippery-slope proposition ... that the original resolution suggested that, you know, this particular radio station only had one female on-air personality and all of their on-air personalities, none of them included African-Americans.”
After Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers responded, Scott said, "[I]n all major cities, Judy, there are all kinds of stations playing all kinds of ethnic music. Should a station that primarily is geared toward the African-American audience, should they be required to have a white DJ?"
Full transcript below.
SCOTT: Outrage in Los Angeles as a couple of radio shock jocks go over the top. Their comments about the late singer Whitney Houston now sparking a city council resolution, calling for radio networks to control what their hosts say on the air. Is that appropriate? Let's bring back in Judith Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter. Kirsten Powers is a columnist for the Daily Beast. Both are Fox News contributors.
I don't suppose we need to get into the name that these two guys called Whitney Houston, but it was pretty awful. The question is, is it appropriate for the city council, Kirsten, to do what they did and try to essentially control what goes out over the airwaves?
POWERS: Well, it's a resolution that doesn't have any kind of legal power over anybody, so I think it's perfectly appropriate. They're just basically weighing in, saying, “This is not the kind of talk that we want to have on the airwaves. This is not how we want to talk about other people.” I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I think we should be able to, in this day and age -- I think it's 2012, I'm pretty sure -- that we can all come to agreement that we don't call people racist terms, we don't call people misogynist terms. It's kind of startling that this even is something we even have to debate, honestly.
SCOTT: But Judy, you do have some First Amendment concerns here.
MILLER: Yeah, I do. I mean, as Kirsten said, this was just a sense of the -- kind of Senate or House. You know, a sense of the city council resolution. But I have to say, when we start talking about what we're going to tolerate on the air and not tolerate on the air, and it's a government agency speaking, whether it's the city council, or the U.S. Congress, or the White House, that always makes me nervous. Because censorship is not the answer to this kind of foul language or sexist or misogynist language.
What should happen is what did happen at the channel, which was those guys got suspended for seven days. They are in -- now in cultural sensitivity training. Everybody's been told not to do it again. And hey, by the way, you might try hiring a woman because they only have one out of, like, 12 anchors. And you might try hiring a person of color.
SCOTT: But that goes to the slippery-slope proposition here, Kirsten, that the original resolution suggested that, you know, this particular radio station only had one female on-air personality and all of their on-air personalities, none of them included African-Americans.
POWERS: Right. Well, look, I understand what Judy is saying, and you don't want the government to be getting involved in censorship, but because this doesn't have any sort of legal force, then I don't think there's a problem. And it's -- like I said, they're sort of stating the obvious to me, you know? It should be obvious that they shouldn't use the term that they used to describe Whitney Houston. And I think the problem that you run into, of course, in these situations, is that people tend to be selective about who they get outraged about, so you might have a Democratic city council that gets very outraged about right-wing radio hosts, but not so much about people on their own side and vice versa. So that would be a concern of mine. However, it has no legal force, so I don't think that there's any really slippery slope to go down.
SCOTT: But, you know, there are -- in all major cities, Judy, there are all kinds of stations playing all kinds of ethnic music. Should a station that primarily is geared toward the African-American audience, should they be required to have a white DJ?
MILLER: No, they shouldn't be required to have a white DJ. They shouldn't be required to put anything on the air anymore, because everybody has a choice. But I think the choice is key here. And that is, it's the listeners' or viewers' choice. If you don't like what you're seeing, if you don't like what you're hearing, shut it off. Don't go demanding that the city council start passing resolutions, because my only concern -- and with Kirsten, I agree, this is only a kind of sense of the city council resolution -- but you don't want this slippery slope toward censorship. Freedom of speech is just so hard to preserve in this country. We have a really wide birth here. We want to maintain it. We want more debate and discussion, but we want civilized debate and discussion.
SCOTT: Judy Miller, Kirsten Powers, thank you both.