home > archives > Dixie Chicks Blacklisting
December 18, 2006
New Movie Out On 2003 Dixie Chicks Controversy

I'm sure many of you remember the Great Dixie Chicks Blacklisting Controversy of 2003, when Natalie Maines said she was ashamed the president was from Texas, and then Clear Channel made a top down decision to ban her band from the airwaves.

Well Christoher Fleeger sent me a DVD of his new movie, Protesting the Dixie Chicks and I thought it was great!

There's a trailer available on the official website.

Another clip is up on YouTube, and Christopher promised that he would upload another clip about the FCC Radio Consolidation issues soon too.



Posted by Lisa at 07:26 PM
June 30, 2003
John Cougar Mellencamp Speaks Out

This interview could have been better (the guy could have asked better questions and stopped trying to pigeon hole Cougar's musical style -- I'm referring to the "are you the Creedence of today" line of questioning on page 3).

But no matter, at least someone gave John a chance to speak!

Ain't that America?
Denounced as un-American after he blasted Bush on his 21st album, John Mellencamp talks about the rise of Fox News, pay-for-play, what's wrong with the Rolling Stones and why most Republicans aren't rich enough to be Republicans.
By Eric Boehlert for Salon.


Salon: Talk about people's reaction to "To Washington."

John: Initially I was surprised. My album wasn't going to come out for a few months and I had the song
recorded so I put it up on my Web site and asked for people's comments. And there were some mean
damn comments coming back.

Salon: How about today?

John: It's changed. Now they're almost totally in favor of the song. Because people are starting to
realize, "Now wait a minute, what really happened in Iraq?" I see the climate changing
tremendously. But when people hear those drums of war pounding, and Fox News is showing it on
television, people got pretty riled up. People were afraid, and when people are afraid they make
emotional decisions.

Salon: Did that include people in your hometown of Bloomington, Ind.?

John: When the song first came out I was in the car one day and we were driving to the airport and I had
my kids with me and a radio station was playing "To Washington" and having callers call in. Some
guy comes on and says, "I don't know who I hate the most, John Mellencamp or Osama bin Laden." My
kids heard that and my 9-year-old said, "Dad, are they talking about you? Why are people mad at
you?"

... Salon: Were there discussions about not including the song on your record?

John: I was asked not to put it on the record.

Where did it go from there?

John: I think the people who asked me knew what my response would be, but they felt they had to ask. They
were polite about it.

Salon: Did they say it just didn't feel right, or the tone wasn't right for the record?

John: No, it was more, "You're asking for trouble, and look what happened to the Dixie Chicks, which was
based on just an offhand comment they made." And my point to them was, "Look, I'm John Mellencamp,
I've been doing this 25 years. For anybody to say I'm un-American is laughable."


Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.salon.com/ent/music/int/2003/06/30/mellencamp/index_np.html

page 1

Ain't that America? Denounced as un-American after he blasted Bush on his 21st album, John
Mellencamp talks about the rise of Fox News, pay-for-play, what's wrong with the Rolling Stones and
why most Republicans aren't rich enough to be Republicans.

- - - - - - - - - - - - By Eric Boehlert

June 30, 2003 | "The whole thing was surreal to me," says John Mellencamp. He's remembering the
three-month period during the winter and spring when America was wrestling with the notion of war
against Iraq. The roots-rocker found himself caught in the public fray after he released an antiwar
song at the height of the debate, with some radio listeners comparing him to Osama bin Laden.

It was a startling charge for the Hoosier recently dubbed "Mr. Middle America" by ABC News. After
nearly 30 years on the public stage, Mellencamp and his lunch-bucket rock and populist tales have
come to signify heartland values like faith, hard work and, yes, a healthy skepticism toward
authority. But anti-Americanism? "Get the fuck out of here," he scoffs.

His protest song "To Washington," with its thinly veiled jabs at President Bush, struck a chord
with listeners on the left and right alike. "Isn't it funny?" he asks. "A 51-year-old guy who's
made as many records as I have can still piss off the right wing."

Born in 1951 in Seymour, Ind., the son of a fundamentalist father and a Miss Indiana runner-up,
Mellencamp joined his first band at the age of 13. After graduation and a failed job installing
telephones for Indiana Bell, he landed a record contract despite, he says, having no discernible
talents. "I had a deal when I was a kid not because I could write songs or sing. It was the way I
looked," he says. "The idea of actually writing songs had not even dawned on me."


The songs, and the hits, came later, as Mellencamp honed his vocal and songwriting prowess and
fought his way onto portions of the pop charts usually not occupied by bar band singers. In 1986,
the top three selling artists of the year were Whitney Houston, Madonna and Mellencamp.

Through the years the headstrong Mellencamp has remained one of the few major recording artists not
to cash in by selling his songs for use in television commercials or to accept corporate
sponsorship for his concert tours, decisions that have cost him millions of dollars.

Wrapping his workmanlike rock in what he calls his "left-of-center" politics, in the '80s
Mellencamp teamed up with Willie Nelson to begin staging charity concerts and raise millions of
dollars for Farm-Aid. In 1989, at the height of commercial appeal, he penned "Jackie Brown," among
the most stinging indictments of American poverty ever put to record. ("We shame ourselves to watch
people like this live.")

As the late Timothy White, his good friend and the longtime editor of Billboard, wrote in 2001,
"Mellencamp's best music is rock 'n' roll stripped of all escapism, and it looks directly at the
messiness of life as it's actually lived. This is rock music that tells the truth on both its
composer and the culture he's observing."

More recently, Mellencamp has been tackling the topic of race relations. The title track to 2001's
"Cuttin' Heads" featured Chuck D. rapping about the word "nigger": "I connect the word with pain,
now some smile when they scream the name?/ Die, N-word, die. I want to live."

The album's second song, the sweet-sounding single "Peaceful World," was equally blunt: "Racism
lives in the U.S. today." Not exactly Top-40 fare.

While Mellencamp's radio hits in the '90s couldn't match such '80s anthems as "Pink Houses" and
"Lonely Ol' Night," they were always among the smartest on the airwaves, featuring his trademark
American Bandstand sound that's always easy to dance to: "Love and Happiness" (1991), "Human
Wheels" (1993), "Dance Naked" (1994), "Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First)" (1996) and "Your Life
Is Now" (1998).

Mellencamp has amassed 29 Top-40 singles in a career spread over 21 albums, including his latest,
the steel-tipped, blues-flavored "Trouble No More."

As the years pass, however, it's gotten progressively harder for Mellencamp to get his music heard
on FM radio, or even VH1. "I was standing outside a restaurant the other night," he recalls with a
laugh. "And a guy, about 37, says, 'Man, are you John Mellencamp?' I said yeah. He said, 'I love
your songs,' and then he said, 'Did you stop making records?'"

Thanks to "To Washington," fans have been likelier to read about Mellencamp in the news pages than
the arts section. Originally written in 1903 as "White House Blues," a commentary on the 1901
assassination of President William McKinley, the folk classic has previously been updated as
political commentary by the Carter Family and Woody Guthrie. Mellencamp continued that tradition:

So a new man in the White House With a familiar name Said he had some fresh ideas But it's worse
now since he came From Texas to Washington.

During a recent phone call from South Carolina, Mellencamp talked at length about the song, his
politics and contemporary pop culture, as well as the ailing music industry.

Talk about people's reaction to "To Washington."

Initially I was surprised. My album wasn't going to come out for a few months and I had the song
recorded so I put it up on my Web site and asked for people's comments. And there were some mean
damn comments coming back.

How about today?

It's changed. Now they're almost totally in favor of the song. Because people are starting to
realize, "Now wait a minute, what really happened in Iraq?" I see the climate changing
tremendously. But when people hear those drums of war pounding, and Fox News is showing it on
television, people got pretty riled up. People were afraid, and when people are afraid they make
emotional decisions.

Did that include people in your hometown of Bloomington, Ind.?

When the song first came out I was in the car one day and we were driving to the airport and I had
my kids with me and a radio station was playing "To Washington" and having callers call in. Some
guy comes on and says, "I don't know who I hate the most, John Mellencamp or Osama bin Laden." My
kids heard that and my 9-year-old said, "Dad, are they talking about you? Why are people mad at
you?"

I just thought that was really jerky and wrong. Why would you play a song on the radio and tell
people to call up and say what they think about it. What is this? Is this like a football game?
Tit-for-tat? I don't like this sporting-event mentality to people's lives, which is basically what
it became.

In retrospect, there were only a handful of famous musicians who opposed the war in their music.
Were you surprised, or is it just not feasible today for artists to put out songs like that on
major record labels?

Major record companies don't want those songs. You know, when the record company heard "To
Washington," it was kind of like "Whoa, wait a minute. We don't want you to do this."
Understandably so, because this record was on the same label that has the Dixie Chicks and that had
just blown up in their face.

Were there discussions about not including the song on your record?

I was asked not to put it on the record.

Where did it go from there?

I think the people who asked me knew what my response would be, but they felt they had to ask. They
were polite about it.

Did they say it just didn't feel right, or the tone wasn't right for the record?

No, it was more, "You're asking for trouble, and look what happened to the Dixie Chicks, which was
based on just an offhand comment they made." And my point to them was, "Look, I'm John Mellencamp,
I've been doing this 25 years. For anybody to say I'm un-American is laughable."

But people have said that recently, haven't they?

Oh yeah. But who knows what people are going to say. I read a list of un-American people and there
was Jimmy Carter on there. He's probably the most honest president we've ever had, since I was
alive, and now he's un-American?

page 2

You said earlier that when people hear the drums of war they react out of fear. Were you surprised
at the heights the rhetoric reached this spring?

Well, the whole thing was surreal to me. I have watched Vietnam and a bunch of other skirmishes,
but I've never seen another point in time where I felt that McCarthyism was rearing its head. And
that's how I felt.

But I don't feel it now. These [pro-war] people are having a hard enough time defending what they
did in Iraq, they don't have time to fuck with anybody about being un-American now.

You also mentioned Fox News and the role they played during what you call that surreal period.
What's your take on how they covered the war?

Today's Daypass sponsored by Blue from American Express


Concord Records - For 30 years bringing you the best in independent jazz


I did an interview two weeks ago for Fox News. They invited me to come on their national news show
and talk about "Trouble No More." And I thought, well wait a minute, am I going to have to go on TV
and argue with somebody and defend myself? That's not my job. I'm a singer, a songwriter, I'm not
going to go on TV and debate and all that bullshit.

They said, "No, no, no. This is strictly about the record." So I said OK. So I go in there and they
ask me a few questions about the record. Then all of a sudden the guy says to me, "You wrote a song
that took some potshots at the president." I said, "Whoa, motherfucker! I didn't take any potshots
at anybody, that's not my style. I'm not yelling from the back of the crowd or giving somebody the
finger. That's not what I do." I said, "Listen, I wrote a song and got the lyrics out of any
newspaper in the country." He said, "Well, you saw what happened to the Dixie Chicks." I said,
"Listen, people have died in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam and a bunch of
little wars in between so that people will have the freedom to speak out, and then the
administration gets on the news and says there's a price for freedom. Yeah, and these dead guys
have already paid for it. For people to drive by those women's houses [the Dixie Chicks] and call
them on the phone and threaten them is criminal. What the Dixie Chicks did was legal."

What's your take on George Bush?

Well, what I think of George Bush doesn't really matter, does it?

I think people would be interested to know.

I'm a songwriter. I kind of like the way he struts around sometimes. [Laughs.] Let's leave it at
that.

There was a recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the gap between the facts and people's
perceptions about the war, about how a majority of Americans thought Saddam was behind the 9/11
attacks, and that a large portion thinks we found the weapons of mass destruction.

There's no point in even talking about people's perceptions. I'm always amazed at what people think
about me, just a dumb singer in a rock band, let alone some important topic. People are really
involved, and rightfully so, in their own lives. You can't say anything negative about people not
being informed, because they don't have time to be informed. It's a hard world to get a break in.

Have your politics changed much over the last 10 or 20 years?

I'm proud to say they haven't.

Do you think the country's politics have changed?

I'm un-proud to say I think they have.

Your parents were Democratic Party activists in Indiana, weren't they?

Oh, they were active locally, in our county. My mother campaigned for Bobby Kennedy. I was
surrounded by Democrats. And I don't understand, in this day and age -- most people who are
Republicans, they're not rich enough to be Republicans! I don't get it. My best friend is a
Republican. He and I vowed a couple months ago never to talk about politics again. He's just a
normal guy with a normal job and I've known him since I was 5 years old. But I just said to him,
"Man, you don't have enough money to be a Republican. How can you afford this?"

When your friend Timothy White died a year ago, you said that rock 'n' roll had lost its
conscience. What did you mean by that?

Tim would stand up against the record companies when he felt they needed to be stood up against. I
remember one day Tim called me and said, "John, you're not going to believe what just happened. You
know on your recording contract, how your songs and your albums revert back to you after 35 years?"
I said yeah. "Well, they don't anymore." I said, "What?" He said, "Yeah, it was pork in some bill
that just got signed." Well, come to find out they did it. But it got overturned.

One of the things I've noticed about your music videos over the years is their racial diversity. So
many of them feature both black and white people, and it's unusual, in a rock video, to see black
and white people side by side, especially if they're real people and not extras in a dance line.
I'm assuming that's not just a coincidence.

I'll tell you, when I wrote "Peaceful World," one of the problems I had with the record company was
that they didn't understand why I was even writing a song about racism in America today. I found
that reaction to be awe-inspiring. That they thought there was no problem in America. What? You
guys live in New York City and you don't see any race problems? Once I heard that I thought, "Oh
shit. They don't like the record."

Because of the content? The lyrics?

Yeah, because it was about racism. And it mentioned being politically correct. They had a long
laundry list of problems. Their complaint was, "You have this beautiful chorus ['Come on baby take
a ride with me/ I'm up from Indiana down to Tennessee'], why do you have to fill the song with
these things that will agitate people?" Well, that's what the song is.

Did they come around in the end?

No. That's why I left Columbia Records.

Because you didn't feel you could work with people who felt that way?

Because I always thought it wasn't the record company's job to like the song. I thought it was
their job to sell them. And I just didn't see the point of me arguing with people about the
material.

But the fact that the disagreement was about race relations, was that particularly upsetting? I
mean, it seems to be a topic that has been running through your music for years.

Yeah, and I don't think many people get it either. I think people look at me in a different way. If
Elvis Costello writes a great song, nobody is really surprised. He writes a lot of great songs. But
if John Mellencamp writes a great song it's like, "Wow, what the fuck?" So I'm kind of a Hoagy
Carmichael.

page 3

How about this: You're more the John Fogerty, the Creedence Clearwater Revival, of today?

Well, I was a kid and very much into music when Creedence was popular on the radio. Critics tore
those guys up. They tore poor John Fogerty up.

Because he wrote pop singles.

Yep. The rock critics were so mean to that guy. I never really understood it.

Today's Daypass sponsored by Blue from American Express


Concord Records - For 30 years bringing you the best in independent jazz


If you look back now, the Creedence catalog is just amazing.

There's just one great song after another.

But with Creedence, there's a much closer fit with you, right? Very roots -- there's something
uniquely American about that sound.

John Fogerty was an American original, no question about it. But in the moment of the late '60s, he
just didn't fit. But now you listen to those records, like "Fortunate Son" -- there was a guy who
was saying something, saying it plainly. It was plainly played. Very American. People just didn't
get it.

Do you think that comparison could apply to your career?

I don't know. I just don't even want to think about it, because if I start thinking about it I'll
get pissed off. See, that's what happened to John. John Fogerty, through a long list of reasons,
got so mad that he really couldn't make records anymore. He just got so sick and tired of
everything, and when you get sick and tired of everything you can't put things in a way where
you're trying to learn.

I heard that not long ago you added "Gimme Shelter" to your playlist. What's that about?

Yeah, a couple tours ago I was starting the show with that. I don't really know why I did that. I
just like playing the song, I guess. I really don't think much of the Rolling Stones these days. I
don't mean to come off sounding pompous but I just think, I don't know, some of the stuff the
Rolling Stones say and stand for today is a little too corporate for me.

What do they stand for, do you think?

I don't think they stand for anything. Being the oldest rock band, I guess. And, "Man, didn't we
write some great songs when we were kids." But there's too much American Express. Too corporate.
Listen, I got nothing against people making money, don't misunderstand me. If you can make money,
go make it.

Do advertisers even bother calling you to ask about using your songs in commercials?

Sometimes we still get calls. Tim [White] and I used to fight about it, too. Because there have
been some offers over the years I've almost done, big money. I remember once I said, "Tim, goddamn,
this is a song, why are we being so precious about it?" I was so close to taking the money, and he
said, "If you fucking do this I'll never speak to you again." [Laughs.] I hung up the phone and
told my wife, "I can't do this." I decided my relationship with Tim was more important than that.

Are there any songs of yours where you think, "I don't want to play them this year?"

I don't want to play "The Authority Song."

Why not?

It just seems a little juvenile. Don't get me wrong, I've got a lot of fucking juvenile songs:
"Hurt So Good." Mike Wanchic, who is my guitar player and public conscience, he'll actually stand
there and argue with me about it:

"What do you mean we're not playing 'The Authority Song'?"

"Mike, I don't want to play that song."

"But do you see the audience, do you see what happens when we start in on that song?"

"Yeah, but I don't care. They're fucking perking up and I want to throw up."

One of the biggest changes in the music business over the last five years has been the massive
consolidation of the companies that own radio stations and control the tour business. A few weeks
ago the FCC voted to allow major TV and newspaper owners to consolidate.

Now you know why Fox was so supportive of the war.

You think there was a connection there?

I don't think, I know.

What's your take on Clear Channel Communications and its influence on the radio and concert
business?

I'm not going to single out Clear Channel, but I just think that when you control so much ... When
a person owns the horse, the track and the other horses in the race, it's probably not going to be
a fair race.

Another topic that's come up lately is pay-for-play in the radio business -- the way artists and
labels actually get songs on the radio by paying indie middlemen. I was just wondering if you had
any thoughts about that process.

You might be surprised about how I feel about that: That's the way it's supposed to be.

In what sense?

That's the way the music business has always been. And to take that away from a business that has
never really operated aboveboard? [Laughs.] Listen, there is no way that you can devise it so that
people are not going to figure out how to get around it.

When it comes to getting songs on the radio?

Sure. There is no way it can be done. Look, in the '80s when people were paying openly to get songs
on the radio, here's the way it worked. "We want you to play this record and we're going to give
you a spiff [kickback] of $100 to get it on the radio." OK, the guy plays it for a week and says,
"I've been playing the song for a week and nobody likes it." "Well, here's $200 to play it next
week." They've been playing the song for two weeks and nobody likes it. Guess what, they're done
paying. It's over at that point. You cannot pay your way into having a hit. It won't happen. The
only thing you can pay your way into is having the opportunity to have a hit. If you don't pay, you
don't even have the opportunity. That's the way it should be done.

What about the folks who can't afford to have an opportunity?

I hate to be cruel about it, but that's the way it's always been. Look, you're talking to a guy
right now who doesn't have a chance [of getting on FM rock radio]. What am I going to do about it?
What's Tom Petty going to do about it? We could write "God Bless America" and nobody wants to play
it. It doesn't matter what we do.

You've always been pretty upfront about the fact that you were playing this game to be on Top-40
radio, to have hits. Meaning if you're going to put time into a project, you might as well have as
many people hear it as possible.

You're right. I always said there's no reason to make these records if nobody's going to hear them.
What's the point, unless you can do something positive with the song, or entertain people? These
things are too hard to make, they take too long, they cost too much money and there's no reason to
make them unless the record company is going to support you and try to sell the fucking thing.

Is this your last album?

I don't know. Listen, I never planned anything in my life. It depends what comes my way. I'm not
out looking for a record deal. I'm not calling anybody up. I don't have anybody who represents me
calling people up. But I would imagine I'd make another record.

You've been doing this for a long time. If you do leave the stage, do you think it's not a bad time
to do it, considering all those things you just said?

Look, my reward for "Trouble No More" has already happened. The fact we had so much fun making that
record. It was challenging. It was interesting. That was reward enough. It would be like my
painting. I don't paint for anything other than enjoyment. I look at other artists like Neil Young,
that's the way he lives. I admire the guy. I don't know what goes on in his private conversations
with his manager, but I see Neil and he doesn't care. He doesn't go on television. He doesn't
promote these records. If they sell half a million or they sell 3 million, it's all the same to
Neil.

You're not there, though, mentally?

I'm not there yet, but that doesn't mean I won't get there. Let's not forget I'm the luckiest guy
in the world.

So you've had a good time?

Did I have fun in the music business? Are you kidding me? More fun than most guys deserve to have
in their life. I have laughed so hard at myself that I couldn't get up off the floor.


Posted by Lisa at 05:51 AM
June 25, 2003
Howard Dean On The FCC's New Media Ownership Rules

This footage is from the "Democratic National Candidates Forum" organized by the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition that took place on June 22, 2003 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers in Chicago, IL.

Here's the original question that was presented to the candidates (courtesy of Jesse Jackson).

Howard Dean On The FCC's New Media Ownership Rules

"...when the Dixie Chicks were kicked off the air for disagreeing with the President of the United States over the Iraq invasion, I suddenly realized that this was a corporation who was censoring our ability to get information on our airwaves." -- Howard Dean.

Complete transcript of the above video clip:

Q: Governor Dean. The FCC made this decision. The market's gonna react. Companies are going to be acquiring more outlets. What are you gonna try to do? Try to undo it?

Dean: Yup.

(applause)

Dean: Look, I'm not a big country music person. I like it alright. I don't know much about the Dixie Chicks. But when the Dixie Chicks were kicked off the air for disagreeing with the President of the United States over the Iraq invasion, I suddenly realized that this was a corporation who was censoring our ability to get information on our airwaves. So, yeah. Deregulation has been a failure. We need to re-regulate the media. They've behaved irresponsibly, and when people behave irresponsibly, they need to have the privileges that we're giving them using our airwaves taken away.

So yes. I would re-regulate the media. I would limit the ownership of stations in a particular market and limit the overall ownerships in the entire country. We made a mistake in deregulation. We need to re-regulate.

Uncropped photograph (linked to larger image):

Posted by Lisa at 05:11 PM
April 24, 2003
Bruce Springsteen Defends The Dixie Chicks

Bruce Springsteen has spoken out in support of the Dixie Chicks!

And he did it using his blog (of sorts):

Bruce On The Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks have taken a big hit lately for exercising their basic right to express themselves. To me, they're terrific American artists expressing American values by using their American right to free speech. For them to be banished wholesale from radio stations, and even entire radio networks, for speaking out is un-American.

The pressure coming from the government and big business to enforce conformity of thought concerning the war and politics goes against everything that this country is about - namely freedom. Right now, we are supposedly fighting to create freedom in Iraq, at the same time that some are trying to intimidate and punish people for using that same freedom here at home.

I don't know what happens next, but I do want to add my voice to those who think that the Dixie Chicks are getting a raw deal, and an un-American one to boot. I send them my support.

Bruce Springsteen

Posted by Lisa at 03:38 PM
March 25, 2003
The Truth About The Dixie Chicks Ban

Oligarchy:

1. Government by a few, especially by a small faction of persons or families.
2. Those making up such a government.
2. A state governed by a few persons.

Channels of Influence
By Paul Krugman for the NY Times.

Or perhaps the quid pro quo is more narrowly focused. Experienced Bushologists let out a collective "Aha!" when Clear Channel was revealed to be behind the pro-war rallies, because the company's top management has a history with George W. Bush. The vice chairman of Clear Channel is Tom Hicks, whose name may be familiar to readers of this column. When Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, Mr. Hicks was chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company, called Utimco, and Clear Channel's chairman, Lowry Mays, was on its board. Under Mr. Hicks, Utimco placed much of the university's endowment under the management of companies with strong Republican Party or Bush family ties. In 1998 Mr. Hicks purchased the Texas Rangers in a deal that made Mr. Bush a multimillionaire.

There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear, but a good guess is that we're now seeing the next stage in the evolution of a new American oligarchy. As Jonathan Chait has written in The New Republic, in the Bush administration "government and business have melded into one big `us.' " On almost every aspect of domestic policy, business interests rule: "Scores of midlevel appointees . . . now oversee industries for which they once worked." We should have realized that this is a two-way street: if politicians are busy doing favors for businesses that support them, why shouldn't we expect businesses to reciprocate by doing favors for those politicians by, for example, organizing "grass roots" rallies on their behalf?

Here is the entire text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/25/opinion/25KRUG.html

The New York Times The New York Times Opinion March 25, 2003
OP-ED COLUMNIST
Channels of Influence
By PAUL KRUGMAN

By and large, recent pro-war rallies haven't drawn nearly as many people as antiwar rallies, but they have certainly been vehement. One of the most striking took place after Natalie Maines, lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, criticized President Bush: a crowd gathered in Louisiana to watch a 33,000-pound tractor smash a collection of Dixie Chicks CD's, tapes and other paraphernalia. To those familiar with 20th-century European history it seemed eerily reminiscent of. . . . But as Sinclair Lewis said, it can't happen here.

Who has been organizing those pro-war rallies? The answer, it turns out, is that they are being promoted by key players in the radio industry with close links to the Bush administration.

The CD-smashing rally was organized by KRMD, part of Cumulus Media, a radio chain that has banned the Dixie Chicks from its playlists. Most of the pro-war demonstrations around the country have, however, been organized by stations owned by Clear Channel Communications, a behemoth based in San Antonio that controls more than 1,200 stations and increasingly dominates the airwaves.

The company claims that the demonstrations, which go under the name Rally for America, reflect the initiative of individual stations. But this is unlikely: according to Eric Boehlert, who has written revelatory articles about Clear Channel in Salon, the company is notorious and widely hated for its iron-fisted centralized control.

Until now, complaints about Clear Channel have focused on its business practices. Critics say it uses its power to squeeze recording companies and artists and contributes to the growing blandness of broadcast music. But now the company appears to be using its clout to help one side in a political dispute that deeply divides the nation.

Why would a media company insert itself into politics this way? It could, of course, simply be a matter of personal conviction on the part of management. But there are also good reasons for Clear Channel which became a giant only in the last few years, after the Telecommunications Act of 1996 removed many restrictions on media ownership to curry favor with the ruling party. On one side, Clear Channel is feeling some heat: it is being sued over allegations that it threatens to curtail the airplay of artists who don't tour with its concert division, and there are even some politicians who want to roll back the deregulation that made the company's growth possible. On the other side, the Federal Communications Commission is considering further deregulation that would allow Clear Channel to expand even further, particularly into television.

Or perhaps the quid pro quo is more narrowly focused. Experienced Bushologists let out a collective "Aha!" when Clear Channel was revealed to be behind the pro-war rallies, because the company's top management has a history with George W. Bush. The vice chairman of Clear Channel is Tom Hicks, whose name may be familiar to readers of this column. When Mr. Bush was governor of Texas, Mr. Hicks was chairman of the University of Texas Investment Management Company, called Utimco, and Clear Channel's chairman, Lowry Mays, was on its board. Under Mr. Hicks, Utimco placed much of the university's endowment under the management of companies with strong Republican Party or Bush family ties. In 1998 Mr. Hicks purchased the Texas Rangers in a deal that made Mr. Bush a multimillionaire.

There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear, but a good guess is that we're now seeing the next stage in the evolution of a new American oligarchy. As Jonathan Chait has written in The New Republic, in the Bush administration "government and business have melded into one big `us.' " On almost every aspect of domestic policy, business interests rule: "Scores of midlevel appointees . . . now oversee industries for which they once worked." We should have realized that this is a two-way street: if politicians are busy doing favors for businesses that support them, why shouldn't we expect businesses to reciprocate by doing favors for those politicians by, for example, organizing "grass roots" rallies on their behalf?

What makes it all possible, of course, is the absence of effective watchdogs. In the Clinton years the merest hint of impropriety quickly blew up into a huge scandal; these days, the scandalmongers are more likely to go after journalists who raise questions. Anyway, don't you know there's a war on?

Posted by Lisa at 08:51 AM
South Carolina Government Attempts To Intimidate Dixie Chicks Into Giving A Free Concert For Troops (Huh?)

Is this for real? Is South Carolina trying to force the Dixie Chicks to show up for a free concert so they can be booed and hissed by their former military fans.

I'm shocked I tell you. Shocked. Surely this is unconstitutional.

Don't do it girls! Start your tour from somewhere else, if need be. Sounds like they're crazy in South Carolina anyway.

You could probably sell out here in San Francisco for a week straight.

We'll stand behind you and your constitutional right to speak your mind!

(And you're pretty good at playing them instruments too.)

(S.C. State) House Resolution H 3818


A HOUSE RESOLUTION

TO REQUEST THAT THE DIXIE CHICKS APOLOGIZE TO THE MILITARY FAMILIES IN THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA AND THE UNITED STATES FOR THE UNPATRIOTIC AND UNNECESSARY COMMENTS MADE BY THEIR LEAD SINGER BEFORE THEY BEGIN THEIR UNITED STATES TOUR ON MAY 1, 2003, IN GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA, AND TO REQUEST THAT THEY PERFORM A FREE CONCERT FOR TROOPS AND MILITARY FAMILIES IN SOUTH CAROLINA AS AN EXPRESSION OF THEIR SINCERITY.

Whereas, the Dixie Chicks are a popular and influential country music group from Texas; and

Whereas, before a recent London concert, Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, said that she was ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas; and

Whereas, members of the United States Armed Forces are outraged at the anti-American sentiment expressed by the Dixie Chicks; and

Whereas, there is a large military presence in the State of South Carolina, whom the Dixie Chicks have offended by their comments; and

Whereas, before the Dixie Chicks kick off their United States tour in Greenville on May 1, 2003, the House of Representatives and the people of South Carolina request that Natalie Maines apologize and that the group perform a free concert for the South Carolina servicemen and women and their families.

Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.lpitr.state.sc.us/sess115_2003-2004/bills/3818.htm

South Carolina General Assembly
115th Session, 2003-2004

Download This Bill in Microsoft Word97 format

Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter

H. 3818

STATUS INFORMATION

House Resolution
Sponsors: Rep. Ceips
Document Path: l:\council\bills\bbm\9577sl03.doc

Introduced in the House on March 19, 2003
Adopted by the House on March 19, 2003

Summary: Not yet available

HISTORY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS

Date Body Action Description with journal page number
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3/19/2003 House Introduced and adopted HJ-15

View the latest legislative information at the LPITS web site

VERSIONS OF THIS BILL

3/19/2003

(Text matches printed bills. Document has been reformatted to meet World Wide Web specifications.)

A HOUSE RESOLUTION

TO REQUEST THAT THE DIXIE CHICKS APOLOGIZE TO THE MILITARY FAMILIES IN THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA AND THE UNITED STATES FOR THE UNPATRIOTIC AND UNNECESSARY COMMENTS MADE BY THEIR LEAD SINGER BEFORE THEY BEGIN THEIR UNITED STATES TOUR ON MAY 1, 2003, IN GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA, AND TO REQUEST THAT THEY PERFORM A FREE CONCERT FOR TROOPS AND MILITARY FAMILIES IN SOUTH CAROLINA AS AN EXPRESSION OF THEIR SINCERITY.

Whereas, the Dixie Chicks are a popular and influential country music group from Texas; and

Whereas, before a recent London concert, Natalie Maines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, said that she was ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas; and

Whereas, members of the United States Armed Forces are outraged at the anti-American sentiment expressed by the Dixie Chicks; and

Whereas, there is a large military presence in the State of South Carolina, whom the Dixie Chicks have offended by their comments; and

Whereas, before the Dixie Chicks kick off their United States tour in Greenville on May 1, 2003, the House of Representatives and the people of South Carolina request that Natalie Maines apologize and that the group perform a free concert for the South Carolina servicemen and women and their families. Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives:

That the members of the House of Representatives of the State of South Carolina, by this resolution, request that the Dixie Chicks apologize to the military families in the State of South Carolina and the United States for the unpatriotic and unnecessary comments made by their lead singer before they begin their United States tour on May 1, 2003, in Greenville, South Carolina, and request that they perform a free concert for troops and military families in South Carolina as an expression of their sincerity.

Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Dixie Chicks.

----XX----

This web page was last updated on March 20, 2003 at 9:33 AM

Posted by Lisa at 08:22 AM
March 21, 2003
My Mistake. Natalie Actually Did Apologize

How sad.

McCarthyism lives!. It worked then and it works now.


Statement from Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks
March 14, 2003

"As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect. We are currently in Europe and witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war. While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers' lives are lost. I love my country. I am a proud American."

Posted by Lisa at 05:05 PM
March 19, 2003
Remember To Request The New Beastie Boys, John Cougar Mellencamp and Dixie Chicks!

I just finished making my daily calls to my local radio stations to request the latest and greatest anti-war songs.

Remember these guys:

Beastie Boys - In A World Gone Mad
John Cougar Mellencamp - To Washington
Dixie Chicks - Traveling Soldier

Posted by Lisa at 09:34 AM
March 18, 2003
Crux Of The Dixie Chicks Situation

This situation just goes to show that it was the Music Programming layer of the system, not the listener layer, that pulled the Dixie Chicks from station playlists over Natalie's statements.

That's the issue here: programmers took it upon themselves to censor the Chicks before listeners had a chance to say anything. That's where the McCarthyism parallel kicks in. The Chicks got blacklisted by a few key people within a Monopolized Media: not by infuriated listeners.

Many thanks to Dale Carter, programming director at KFKF/Kansas City for rethinking the situation and speaking out on this important issue!


Country Radio Still Weighing Chicks Controversy


One major market programmer removed the Chicks from his station's playlist but changed his mind after considering why Americans have fought previous wars. In a letter to listeners posted on the KFKF/Kansas City Web site, program director Dale Carter wrote, "Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are over there fighting for our rights -- and one of those is our Constitutional right to express an unpopular opinion. The longer this has gone on, the more I had visions of censorship and McCarthyism. Two wrongs don't make a right. I agree with the 80 percent of you who abhor what Natalie said in London. On the other hand, I believe in the Constitution."

Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.cmt.com/news/feat/dchicks.031403.jhtml


Dixie Chicks
Country Radio Still Weighing Chicks Controversy

Calvin Gilbert
03/14/2003


With heated debate continuing over Natalie Maines' comment about President George W. Bush, country radio listeners may be determining the Dixie Chicks' future -- at least for the short term.

Just like postings on Internet message boards, phone calls to radio stations have been hot and heavy in the aftermath of the Texas-based trio's Monday night (March 10) concert in London. During the concert, Maines told the crowd, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." The band later posted an explanation on their official Web site outlining their views of a possible war with Iraq.

Some radio stations immediately dropped the Dixie Chicks from their playlist after news surfaced of Maines' remark. Rumors were circulating Friday afternoon (March 14) that one sizable chain of stations would be initiating a boycott of Chicks titles during the weekend. Most, however, appear to be taking a "wait and see" attitude as they seek input from their listeners. Several stations are running polls and asking for additional comments via their Web sites.

The Chicks' "Travelin' Soldier," is No. 1 on Billboard's latest country singles chart, but weekend boycotts at major market stations could easily prevent the track from remaining at the top when the next chart is compiled Monday (March 17).

"They're about where they were at this point last week, as far as spins," Billboard country charts editor Wade Jessen told CMT.com. "But with three more days left to go, depending on what happens, they could either stay at one or they'll get knocked out. At this point in the week, they're maintaining their airplay on 'Travelin' Soldier,' but we won't know until Monday morning what it looks like."

Noting that Americans were more unified in the early '90s during Operation Desert Storm, Jessen adds, "I think this is new territory, and it's very, very sensitive and very emotional. It's particularly sensitive in the country format because we're really where patriotism lives. Country is the format with the audience that expects patriotism. But at this time in the nation's history, there's a lot of confusion over just what patriotism is and what constitutes it."

In Bush's hometown of Midland, Texas, radio station KNFM's Web site offers a direct link to The Guardian, the London newspaper that first reported Maines' remark. The station has also stopped playing Dixie Chicks music as part of an on-air promotion billed as "Chicks Free -- Texas Pride Weekend." KNFM operations manager John Moesch said, "Natalie Maines certainly has the right to say whatever she wants, but it doesn't mean that the KNFM listener family here in George W. Bush's hometown have to listen."

Elsewhere in Texas, online polls are being conducted by KILT and KKBQ in Houston and at KSCS in Dallas. The KSCS poll has a bit of a disclaimer: "At 96.3 KSCS we disagree with her [Maines]. We're not only proud to be from Texas, but we're proud of President George W. Bush and the fact that he is from Texas."

One major market programmer removed the Chicks from his station's playlist but changed his mind after considering why Americans have fought previous wars. In a letter to listeners posted on the KFKF/Kansas City Web site, program director Dale Carter wrote, "Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are over there fighting for our rights -- and one of those is our Constitutional right to express an unpopular opinion. The longer this has gone on, the more I had visions of censorship and McCarthyism. Two wrongs don't make a right. I agree with the 80 percent of you who abhor what Natalie said in London. On the other hand, I believe in the Constitution."

Carter concluded, "In light of what our men and women are about to do, this whole controversy is very small. Let me close with the most important sentiments any of us can express: God bless our troops, pray for the people of Iraq and may God continue to bless the United States of America."


Posted by Lisa at 09:09 PM
March 15, 2003
Dixie Chicks Stand By Their Standments

Dixie Chick Explains Bush Bash


"I feel the President is ignoring the opinions of many in the US and alienating the rest of the world.

"My comments were made in frustration and one of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view."

Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://kvet.com/script/headline_newsmanager.php?id=128626&pagecontent=musicnewscountry

Dixie Chick Explains Bush Bash

A member of country group The Dixie Chicks is clarifying slating remarks she made about President George W. Bush.

Singer Natalie Maines reportedly told the crowd at a London concert "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas."

Her comments - which reportedly had the audience cheering - were reproduced in a review by British newspaper 'The Guardian.'

On the "There's Your Trouble" Texan band's website, Maines says, "We've been overseas for several weeks and have been reading and following the news accounts of our government's position. The anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding."

"I feel the President is ignoring the opinions of many in the US and alienating the rest of the world.

"My comments were made in frustration and one of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view."

But Maines is much more supportive of the United States troops.

She adds, "While we support our troops, there is nothing more frightening than the notion of going to war with Iraq and the prospect of all the innocent lives that will be lost."

Posted by Lisa at 06:23 PM
Dixie Chicks Under Attack For Expressing Their Views Against The War

The Dixie Chicks have been blacklisted out of major radio rotation for expressing their views about the Shrub.

So when you're calling the radio stations to request the new Beastie Boys and John Cougar Mellencamp Anti-war songs, you can also let them know that you'd appreciate hearing some Dixie Chicks!

Dixie Chicks pulled from air after bashing Bush


Country stations across the United States have pulled the Chicks from playlists following reports that lead singer Natalie Maines said in a concert in London earlier this week that she was "ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

Station managers said their decisions were prompted by calls from irate listeners who thought criticism of the president was unpatriotic...

One station in Kansas City, Missouri held a Dixie "chicken toss" party Friday morning, where Chick critics were encouraged to dump the group's tapes, CDs and concert tickets into trash cans.

Houston country station KILT pulled the band's records from its playlist -- at least temporarily -- after 77 percent of people polled on its Web site said they supported the move.

"We've got them off the air for right now," said Jeff Garrison, program director at KILT, which is owned by Viacom's Infinity Broadcasting Corp.

"People are shocked. They cannot believe Texas' own have attacked the state and the president," Garrison said.

Lead singer Maines said in a statement she felt the president was ignoring the opinions of many in the United States and alienating the rest of the world by pushing for war with Iraq.

"We've been overseas for several weeks and have been reading and following the news accounts of our government's position. The anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding," Maines said...

The Chicks have the number one country album in the United States on the Billboard charts called "Home" and the No. 1 single with "Travelin' Soldier", which is about a U.S. soldier who fought in Vietnam.

Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:

http://www.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/Music/03/14/dixie.chicks.reut/

Dixie Chicks pulled from air after bashing Bush

Friday, March 14, 2003 Posted: 7:45 PM EST (0045 GMT)
The Dixie Chicks: Emily Robison, left, Natalie Maines, center, and Martie Maguire
The Dixie Chicks: Emily Robison, left, Natalie Maines, center, and Martie Maguire
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DALLAS, Texas (Reuters) -- There are a lot worse things in country music than your wife leaving you or your dog dying. There's stations not playing your music because you done gone and said some things against the president.

Music superstars the Dixie Chicks are finding out that criticizing President Bush's plans for war in Iraq can cost you air play, big time.

Country stations across the United States have pulled the Chicks from playlists following reports that lead singer Natalie Maines said in a concert in London earlier this week that she was "ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

Station managers said their decisions were prompted by calls from irate listeners who thought criticism of the president was unpatriotic.

The group, which got its start in Texas, was one of the darlings of this year's Grammy Awards. The three-woman band that blends blue grass and pop hooks has spawned legions of fans who embrace the ideals of strong women celebrated in some of the trio's songs.

One station in Kansas City, Missouri held a Dixie "chicken toss" party Friday morning, where Chick critics were encouraged to dump the group's tapes, CDs and concert tickets into trash cans.

Houston country station KILT pulled the band's records from its playlist -- at least temporarily -- after 77 percent of people polled on its Web site said they supported the move.

"We've got them off the air for right now," said Jeff Garrison, program director at KILT, which is owned by Viacom's Infinity Broadcasting Corp.

"People are shocked. They cannot believe Texas' own have attacked the state and the president," Garrison said.

Lead singer Maines said in a statement she felt the president was ignoring the opinions of many in the United States and alienating the rest of the world by pushing for war with Iraq.

"We've been overseas for several weeks and have been reading and following the news accounts of our government's position. The anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding," Maines said.

One of the country stations in Dallas that helped champion the Chicks when they were scraping by in that city playing gigs on street corners for tips, "99.5 The Wolf," said they are listening to the listener's views but do not think it is right to immediately jump on the bandwagon and stop playing the Chicks, said program director Paul Williams.

Williams said it is too early to tell how strong a backlash may develop against the Chicks. He said the comments touched a deep nerve in Texas because they came from one of the biggest country groups to come out of the state and were directed at a president who calls Texas home.

"The listener outlash is probably bigger here than anywhere else," William said.

The Chicks have the number one country album in the United States on the Billboard charts called "Home" and the No. 1 single with "Travelin' Soldier", which is about a U.S. soldier who fought in Vietnam.

Posted by Lisa at 05:48 PM