An Inclusive Litany

11/8/01

Norah Vincent in the Los Angeles Times, November 8, 2001. (Ms. Vincent responds to a Wall Street Journal column in which Gregg Easterbrook examines the concept of prior restraint.)
Yanking advertisements from network television shows should also be unconstitutional. This happened recently to Bill Maher, host of the late-night talk show "Politically Incorrect," after he said a few politically incorrect things about the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack.

Why do I believe that rescinding ad revenue constitute censorship? Don't advertisers have the right to advertise when and where they please?

Because Maher's show depends on advertising money for its survival, the advertisers were not just registering their discontent (they could have done that in a written statement), they were knowingly jeopardizing the show and thereby attempting to silence the speaker by forcing him off the air.

Of course, there is no law that prevents advertisers from revoking their support for shows. But if we are going to remain true to the spirit of the 1st Amendment, we should pass one.

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