Monday, June 02, 2003
In the wake of the FCC's relaxation of media ownership rules today, I sat down with FCC chairman (and son of Secretary of State Colin Powell) Michael Powell in his Washington, DC office for a chat.
Michael Powell: So.
Bunsen: I don't want to sound cynical here...
Powell: No, go ahead.
Bunsen: It might seem that by all this deregulation of media ownership standards, that you are trying to get in good with huge media conglomerated like Viacom and Vivendi and --
Powell: Aren't you the guy who fights with Harrison Ford and writes about zapping starlets and mimes and stuff?
Bunsen: Yes, but I'm about more than that.
Powell: You're trying to get into Janeane Garofalo's pants.
Bunsen: Are you trying to get into Steve Case's pants?
Powell: Of course not. This has nothing to do with pleasing corporations.
[The door to Powell's office bursts open. Rupert Murdoch storms in, wearing a pointy party hat, carrying a champagne flute and one of those noisemakers that clicks loudly when spun around. He walks over to Powell's desk, gives him a high-five, and leaves as quickly as he came.]
Bunsen: What was that about?
Powell: It's his daughter's birthday, I think. It's OK, he's a US citizen now.
Bunsen: Oh. Listen...
Powell: I'm all ears.
Bunsen: When you deregulated radio, it turned into utter, cookie-cutter, corporate-run crap. What's going to stop the same thing from happening with TV or newspapers or the Internet?
Powell: The radio is crap? What radio are you listening to?
[He turns on a stereo behind him. A song that I identify as Avril Lavigne blares out. Powell takes a small pill out of his pocket and swallows it.]
Bunsen: Is that ecstasy?
Powell: [washing it down with a glass of water, placing a finger across his lips] Shhhh. [He starts swaying to the music] Isn't this song great?
Bunsen: What if TV winds up like the radio?
Powell: TV pretty much sucks anyway.
Powell: Why should you have to flip around to find crap? Soon you can just turn on the TV and see a Will and Grace rerun any time of the day or night. Or Bill O'Reilly. Depending on if you're watching NBC 345 or Rupert NewsUltra.
Bunsen: My head hurts.
[Powell turns the music up even louder.]
Powell: [singing] Why's everything got to be so complicated?
[He dances over to me, chugging a bottle of water, swaying to the music.]
Powell: Don't worry, you'll be taken care of. [pauses] Can I have a hug? This is song is so totally great and I just need a hug.
Bunsen: OK, but only if I can have the vodka from that gift basket from Sumner Redstone.
Powell: You got yourself a deal, mister.