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H--l To the Chief

The President's open-mike s-word at the G8 Summit got reported without dash or substitution by CNN, though the Web site used "the sh-t heard 'round the world" as the type description of the clip on its media player, while the President's phrase: "Get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over," was clearly heard and reproduced.

Broadcasters were in a different situation, however. The FCC has said that the s-word may be indecent, and news is not necessarily a shield, though it is still arguably a higher hurdle than entertainment programming.

Some broadcasters may have used it, but some probably didn't for fear of the FCC, or perhaps to make a point like those who didn't air Private Ryan a while back. The CBS Evening News, for example, decided it had to bleep the president and dash-dash the text in its report.

Either way, while the Mideast explodes and North Korea goosesteps towards who knows what, broadcasters are forced to waste time, even if it is only minutes, deciding whether or not they can report what someone says, even if that someone is the President, even if it is on a crucial subject like the above-mentioned crisis.

Yes, I know it is highly unlikely that any station would get hammered by the FCC for it, but nothing is a slam-dunk certainty any more.

How ridiculous. How stupid. This is the example we are settling to our children, the ones legislators are always invoking to defend their own prudish excesses. Listen up, bipartisan Congress, this is the byproduct of your hearings and saber-rattling on the issue.

Way to go.

By John Eggerton