June 22, 2012 6:26am PT by Eriq Gardner
MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell Taunts FCC by Showing Nudity on His Show (Video)
Television networks won a victory at the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday when the justices decided that the FCC violated due process by not providing enough notice to ABC and Fox of a new policy on isolated instances of fleeting profanities and nudity on television. The win, however, wasn't the Big One that broadcasters had wanted. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy decided the high court wouldn't address whether the time had come to reexamine whether regulation of indecency passed First Amendment muster in an age when pretty much anything goes on cable television, satellite and various new media.
But on further reflection, might some in television be aggressively reading Kennedy's opinion as a statement against indecency regulation? At very least, broadcasters could put the FCC in a tough spot to either get tough or get out of the nanny business.
Witness this segment last night from MSNBC's The Last Word, hosted by Lawrence O'Donnell, who despite evidence that the high court had merely addressed due process and not free speech, told his viewers, "Today, the United States Supreme Court officially and unanimously rewrote what we could say and do and show on television. Now, profanity is OK. And nudity is OK. All thanks to Cher."
O'Donnell then celebrates by showing some nudity -- specifically, the same scene from NYPD Blue that got ABC in trouble in the first place.
Watch the clip below.
Of course, this is cable (and a 10 pm news show) so there's probably nothing the FCC can or will do about this. But if broadcast networks wanted to follow up on this sentiment and offer up profanities and nudity, could they? The justices said that the networks didn't have proper notice. Do they now? If networks really believed that the FCC has acted arbitrarily and capriciously, has anything changed? Perhaps they still believe the FCC's guidelines are vague.
Meaning, the FCC might soon have to spell out more detail about their indecency protocol soon.
And in the meantime, there's 1.4 million indecency complaints that have been backlogged at the FCC. This could create quite a headache as FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell said in a statement on Thursday, ""It is now time for the FCC to get back to work so that we can process the backlog of pending indecency complaints — which currently stands at just under 1.5 million involving about 9,700 TV broadcasts."