WASHINGTON — More than 30 House Republicans have asked President Bush to appoint a new FCC chairman who will fight to keep the nation’s airwaves free of indecency.
In a letter delivered to the White House on Friday, 33 GOP representatives filed the first congressional attempt to influence the president’s impending decision, which media analysts and virtually all sides of the indecency debate are watching closely.
“With the resignation of FCC chairman Michael Powell, there is a unique opportunity to fill this vacancy with someone who will remain strong on enforcement of current indecency standards,” the letter said. “We would like to express our belief in the need for a chairman who will continue to uphold the laws passed by Congress and continue to crack down on patently offensive material on public airwaves.”
The letter arrived at the White House after Bush told a C-SPAN interviewer last week that parents should play the primary role in protecting children from indecent material. “While we acknowledge the importance of parental controls over children’s viewing habits,” the letter said, “Hollywood and certain media companies work to ensure that children are exposed to it whether they or their parents like it or not.”
Candidates said to be in the running for the job include current FCC commissioner Kevin J. Martin, a Republican; Becky Amendariz Kline, former chief of the Texas Public Utility Commission; Michael Gallagher of the Commerce Dept.; and Pat Wood, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman who has been criticized for his agency’s response to the Enron scandal.
While endorsing no specific candidate, the letter made clear the type of chairman the signatories want.
“The next FCC chairman will oversee an important time in our nation’s history, and they must be ready to aggressively enforce the laws that Congress has passed. We encourage you to nominate an individual of boldness, strength, and vision who will continue the work already begun. We must not let immorality become normalized nor federal laws ignored.”
The letter originated as a collaborative effort between Reps. Joe Pitts (Pa.) and Charles Pickering (Miss.). Among others signing it were Dave Weldon (Fla.), Steve King (Iowa) and Jim Ryun (Kan.). No Democrats signed it.