When I wrote this article asking people to boycott Clear Channel some people responded by telling me that this wasn’t an issue of free speech at all, that it was a private company doing what they wanted and there was nothing wrong with that.
If only it were that simple. Unfortunately big business and politics has become so convoluted and incestuous that it’s impossible to tell them apart. It’s the reason why we need to work so hard to get big business lobbies out of politics.
Pulling Howard Stern off of the air wasn’t a move to “clean up the airwaves” it was a move to “clean up the airwaves of people who are outspoken against George W. Bush”. Is it a coincidence this happened right before the big battle for the Presidency begins? Could it possibly be a coincidence that it happened after Stern began getting vocal about the need to get Bush out of office? Or is it more likely that the head of Clear Channel has close ties to the Bush family and has been on the receiving end of many a legislation that has allowed them to garner even more power and wealth?
Lowery Mays, the head of Clear Channel, and his entire family, and the company itself have donated hudreds of thousands of dollars to George W Bush and the Republican party. Or is it more likely “that the content of Stern’s crude show hadn’t suddenly changed, but his stance on Bush had, gave the theory more heft. That, plus his being pulled off the air in key electoral swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania”. Which makes more sense?
The argument that Clear Channel is a business and that it wouldn’t chance losing money for political gain is the lamest argument yet. Clear Channel stands to make more money by “making friends” in the Republican party than Howard Stern could ever make them.
This is why it’s not a private issue. This is why we need to speak out. When the government does so many favors for big business that big business changes its rules when it comes to dealing with them and vice versa, they are no longer a privately held company, they are a government controlled company that is no different than any other dictatorship in the world. The people with power and wealth in dictatorships don’t stay in power or not speak out because they are scared to do so, they don’t speak out because it is profitable not to do so. Just as it is not the leaders who go hungry, it is not the heads of corporations that can’t afford to see a doctor, they both live in their palaces (tell me the difference between a palace and a mansion) while the citizens starve, die from preventable diseases and live their life in working poverty.
Don’t try and tell me this is an issue of a privately owned company. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.