Dateline: July 26, 1997
Quello's Last Stern Comments!
As 83 year old FCC Commissioner and self-appointed
Stern-Buster, James Quello, gets ready for retirement, he takes one last
long-winded stab at his own efforts to put in-check the "insufferable
smart-ass" known to him as Howard Stern.
"There's no doubt that I was credited or discredited with taking
the lead on the $1.75 million Howard Stern fine. It's unusual coming from
me because I was a beat-up war veteran.
Howard Stern has this: He has a First Amendment right to be wrong; a
First Amendment right to ridicule government officials; a First Amendment
right to be an insufferable smart-ass. But he did not have a First Amendment
right to violate existing laws and rules on indecency and obscenity.
And you know, [Sen. Alfonse] D'Amato (R-NY) attacked me at the time,
saying, "Who is this man dictating [content]?... After D'Amato nailed
me in the Congressional Record, I sent him a letter back... and listed nine
examples. Not nice bland examples-raunchy examples. Geez, I mean, how could
anyone condone this stuff? "Woody Allen's daughter is just at the right
height right now so she can wash his genitals". Why should Stern get
away with that? Jesus Christ! I mean, I've got a raunchy sense of humor.
What the hell are you thinking about? God damn you! You know?
We finally ended up with this fine. The lawyer came in and said "You
know, we can beat this". I said, "Yeah, you can beat it, but
I'll tell you what it's going to be three or four years in court and nothing's
going to be approved out of this place".
So then he said, "We're going to pay it, but I'll tell you what
we're going to do. We're going to use this for a very good purpose. We're
going to [use] it to train minorities in broadcasting". I said, "You're
going to use a fine for violating a rule for a real cushy public relations
gesture? I'm sorry, but that isn't the idea". He said they'd think
about it, and then he came back and said, "Can we make it in two payments?"
[Mel] Karmazin was at the [Bayliss Diner] last fall. About five minutes
before my speech I went up to Karmazin's table, held my nose, and offered
my hand. He looked at me and said, "Now what?" I said, "You
put that seven-second delay on him and make it work or it's going to be
your ass". Now I have to say this: Stern is entertaining, he just can't
go that far. " - James Quello
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