News Corp. President-Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin was at the Media Institute's annual Friends & Benefactors event last week, where he was honored with the group's Freedom of Speech Award. He used the occasion to blast the Federal Communication Commission for pursuing indecency fines. "I vow to fight to the end for our ability to put occasionally controversial, offensive and even tasteless content on the air. ... As a media company, we have not just a right but a responsibility to stand up to the government when it crosses that First Amendment line in the sand." He warned that if the government "gets its foot in the censorship door with respect to unpopular entertainment content, it is the beginning of the steep slide toward censoring unpopular political content."
His remarks came just days after the Oct. 19 airing of the animated series "Family Guy" (a self-described equal-opportunity offender) on the entertainment network Fox. The episode featured a sequence in which two of the main characters, Stewie the talking baby and Brian the talking dog, time-traveled to Poland in 1939 during the invasion by Germany. In order to arrange an escape, Stewie and Brian steal some Nazi uniforms, one of which sports a McCain-Palin campaign button.
Fox the news network quickly jumped on the story, writing on its website the next day, "'Family Guy' is no stranger to controversy, but on Sunday night the show went into uncharted territory as it seemed to weigh in on the presidential race by likening the McCain/Palin ticket to the Nazi party in World War II." The story went on to note, "The show's creator, Seth MacFarlane, is an ardent supporter of Barack Obama.
The incident also became the question of the day on the Fox Forum: "Did 'Family Guy' go too far with Nazi 'McCain' pin? Are you troubled by the active support the show's creator has shown for Barack Obama?" Some respondents said liberals are the ones who are like Nazis.
Clearly Fox is more than capable of policing itself when it comes to "unpopular political content."