No Age and CBS TV - chrisj
Late last week our friends in No Age taped a performance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, to air later this month, on October 27th. Between the band’s rehearsal and when this taping was to take place, No Age’s guitarist Randy Randall was asked to wear something other than the Obama t-shirt he had on (-which you can see and admire in the associated photo here—he looks good, right??-)1. The folks working at the show explained that due to the Equal Time Rule, allowing No Age to perform on TV in an Obama t-shirt would force them to allow similar, equal time for that other, elderly fellow who is running in the upcoming Presidential election. So, after a whole lot of wrestling with his conscience and conversation about the situation, Randy decided to go on with the show, and having hand-written the words “Free Health Care” on the inside of his t-shirt, performed wearing it inside-out.
We got an email from Randy last night and it’s clear that this experience is really not sitting well with him. You can and read his note below. And, below that, you can read a post from Arthur Magazine’s editor Jay Babcock about why it’s important for us all to pay attention to what the various artists in our lives have to say. Please take the time to do so!
As a brief side note, after reading through the info about this Equal Time Rule, it seems to cover actual appearances by political candidates (and has been broadened to include stuff like movies starring a political candidate – Reagan in Bedtime for Bonzo, for example). But, it’s tough to understand how that would apply to candidates’ likenesses on t-shirts as well. Had CBS allowed Randy to play a No Age song on TV in an Obama shirt, would they have then been obligated to book a band (or other guest?) who would agree to appear on national TV in a McCain shirt? If that’s the case, and while it’s totally fair and understandable for Randy to construe all of this as censorship, we can sympathize with CBS’s decision here. Think of the unbearably shitty bands they would be forced to book! And, Ted Nugent is SUPER BUSY these days.
More importantly, here’s Randy:
I apologize for mass email but I feel that it is important to get this out to as many people as possible. I have recently come under what can only be called extreme censorship. On Oct 2nd No Age was scheduled to perform on the Late Late show with Craig Ferguson, to be broadcast on CBS later this month. I felt it was important to voice my choice for presidential candidate, Barack Obama, seeing as the episode would air 8 days before election day. We rehearsed on the stage and were waiting to film our performance when I was told that I would not be able to wear my Barack Obama t shirt. I was shocked, it seemed like some kind of joke, especially coming from a show like the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, produced by David Letterman’s production company World Wide Pants. The representatives of CBS said that by wearing an Obama T-shirt I would be violating the FCC rule of equal time for all candidates. However there there is a doctrine of fairness that former President Ronald Reagan and current president George W Bush supported the repeal of in order to allow themselves more time in the media. Regardless, the Equal Time Rule clearly favors candidates with more financial support. Ralph Nader and Ron Paul are not seen nearly as much as Obama and McCain.
I had to look at what I was up against and with 5 minutes before we were supposed to shoot I had only a handful of options. I could either A) walk away from the show and decline from appearing on the show, or B) change my T-shirt. My first choice was A. However, after talking way past the 5 minute mark, Dean and I decided that it would be better to take advantage of the stage we had at our disposal. I decided to make an appeal for “Free Health Care” on my T-shirt seeing as I was unable to voice my support for Barack Obama. Access to affordable health care is an issue very near to my heart for many personal reasons and I am sure that many of you can relate. I have lost and stood by as many of my close family members have battled with terrible illnesses. I have myself gone through traumatic hospitalizations only to come out the other side alive but horribly in debt.
I encourage all of you to speak out about your political views and your feelings about the many issues that are up for discussion at this crucial time in American history. CBS and major media outlets DO NOT speak for me. I do not look to corporate media to inform my views on the issues. Together through our communities we can make a difference and make it a point to express our views in order to shape our world into a better place.
And, here’s Arthur ed. Jay Babcock’s response:
1 The photo that now accompanies this post was taken by Joshua Pressman, back when No Age played at the LA River. You can read more about that here.