May 27, 2005

An FCC Decency Casualty [8:27 am]

You’re #@&$% Fired!

A reporter for WCBS-TV, Mr. Chi’en was on a Midtown street doing a live standup on MetroCard swindles. This was for the benefit of however many New Yorkers happened to be awake at 6 a.m. and tuned to Channel 2. Behind him stood two dolts who taunted him on camera, gesturing vulgarly and holding up a sign for the Opie and Anthony radio show.

Opie and Dopey, you may recall, are the geniuses who once broadcast a live account of a couple supposedly having sex inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral. They’re still around, heaven save us, on satellite radio. Their idea of fun now includes sending dolts to torment hard-working reporters.

Mr. Chi’en, acting human, lost his cool. After finishing his report, he turned to his harassers and yelled something on the order of, “What is your problem, man?” That last sentence is sanitized here. [...]

That was Mr. Chi’en’s foolish thing. He thought he was off the air, he says. But he knew right away that he had gone too far. When he went back live moments later, he apologized, but to no avail. Before the morning was out, WCBS had fired him.

[...] SOME of Mr. Chi’en’s allies sense a climate of fear in the F.C.C.’s pumped-up campaign against indecency.

In parts of the country, television stations have refused to broadcast the film “Saving Private Ryan” because it shows soldiers at war being, of all things, violent and foul-mouthed. Some stations have rejected “Schindler’s List” for showing naked female prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp being herded to the showers. Never mind that any viewer sexually titillated by that scene probably needs a therapist.

It is in this climate that Mr. Chi’en lost his job, his supporters say. “It’s a gross overreaction,” said Al O’Leary, a spokesman for the police officers’ union, who used to speak for New York City Transit. “To sacrifice Arthur Chi’en’s career on the altar of political correctness is just wrong.”

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