Okay, I heard this at my book club last night (which, incidentally is about to formally throw in the towel as book club and come out as what it truly is: a wine club): Clear Channel has a list of artists which it has banned from its station because the artists have come out against the war, i.e. Sheryl Crow, Country Joe and Fist, etc.
Of course, I had heard the same thing regarding Clear Channel after 9/11 and wondered if there was any truth to this, so I did a little Googling (which is so too a verb).
- Given the environment, a Clear Channel program director took it upon himself to identify a number of songs that certain markets or individuals may find insensitive today. This was not a mandate, nor was the list generated out of the corporate radio offices. It was a grassroots effort that was apparently circulated among program directors.
That said, I couldn’t find anything through Google that Clear Channel was currently banning any songs performed by antiwar artists. My friend from book, ahem, wine club said she’d been forwarded a list of such artists and was being encouraged to buy their albums as a show of support. Unfortunately, I’m clearly not hip enough to get the list though I’m still getting kind letters from Ndugu telling me I only have to give him my bank account information to parttake of some $70million floating around in his hut.
I did find a list posted on someone’s blog, which I originally thought was this new list of banned protest songs. (A title like “Protest Songs Banned?” will do that to a person.) Instead, this list came from some petition that obviously came out of the rumored 9/11 banned list, and which contains a list of songs. The ‘banned protest songs’ and the ‘banned 9/11 songs’ are the same list!
This is a re-circulation of the same list of songs bouncing around in the ether after 9/11 — same story of Clear Channel banning songs, same list, same lack of verity. And same wheels.
If you come across another such list and it contains, oh, some more recent songs, I’d love to see it.
I don’t think the Clear Channel banned list exists. However, I do think that censorship at the corporate level in radio (and t.v.) occurs in other, more subtle ways, as suggested by this Op-Ed from the NYT. And as pointed out by Paul Krugman in this NYT piece (reprinted on a non-NYT site), the link between Clear Channel and the Bush administration is deeply troubling, pernicious and smacks of oligarchy.
Clear Channel, it seems, has been organizing pro-war rallies.
- Experienced Bushologists let out a collective “Aha!” when Clear Channel was revealed to be behind the pro-war rallies, because the company’s top management has a history with George W. Bush. The vice chairman of Clear Channel is Tom Hicks, whose name may be familiar to readers of this column. When Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, Mr. Hicks was chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company, called Utimco, and Clear Channel’s chairman, Lowry Mays, was on its board. Under Mr. Hicks, Utimco placed much of the university’s endowment under the management of companies with strong Republican Party or Bush family ties. In 1998 Mr. Hicks purchased the Texas Rangers in a deal that made Mr. Bush a multimillionaire.
There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear, but a good guess is that we’re now seeing the next stage in the evolution of a new American oligarchy. As Jonathan Chait has written in The New Republic, in the Bush administration “government and business have melded into one big `us.’ ” On almost every aspect of domestic policy, business interests rule: “Scores of midlevel appointees . . . now oversee industries for which they once worked.” We should have realized that this is a two-way street: if politicians are busy doing favors for businesses that support them, why shouldn’t we expect businesses to reciprocate by doing favors for those politicians – by, for example, organizing “grass roots” rallies on their behalf?
What makes it all possible, of course, is the absence of effective watchdogs. In the Clinton years the merest hint of impropriety quickly blew up into a huge scandal; these days, the scandalmongers are more likely to go after journalists who raise questions. Anyway, don’t you know there’s a war on?
That last bit regarding impropriety might hit a nerve with those of us who thought that a Halliburton subsidiary getting that lucrative no-bid contract to put out Iraqi oil well fires was suspect.