It’s obviously always media kindergarten time, and the most basic lessons seemingly need to be repeated over and over. And here we go again. OK, bloviators – pay attention! See that microphone? Assume it is LIVE. This means you, Bob Beckel.
Beckel is a regular contributor on Fox News Channel and is also a columnist for USA Today.
According to reports, a spirited debate spilled over into the commercial break that involved fellow panelists Jennifer Stefano and Neal Boortz. Beckel and Boortz were also tossing a football back and forth, so Beckel didn’t notice the five-second warning that the program was returning to the air.
Upon the program’s return to the air, the first thing the audience heard was Beckel saying “You don’t know what the f**k you’re talking about.”
Hannity asked Beckel to apologize, but Beckel refused, saying he did not believe the program was live when he dropped his bomb. Hannity apologized for him, and said that kind of language was fine off-air but not on.
Beckel slowly came to the realization that he had in fact been on air. He tried to lay the blame on Hannity’s program management, and eventually stated his belief that he was on his way to being fired.
RBR-TVBR observation: Since this took place on cable rather than broadcast, there is no cause for the FCC to get involved. But even if it had been on broadcast, this is a classic fleeting expletive, for which there should be no punishment greater than possibly an admonishment.
Had the FCC been happy to leave enforcement policy at that, it would not have given broadcasters an excellent issue to use in court, and it likely would not have ended up being forced to defend its entire indecency enforcement policy.
Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell got this ball rolling when he decided to overrule his own Enforcement Bureau and go after a handful of f-bombs that were uttered during live awards shows, and he was motivated to do so because of one 3/16-second incident. And so the ripples from the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction continue to spread.
Here’s a clip of the incident shared from YouTube: