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In the Crossfire

Polluted air: Did shock jocks deserve to be fired?

(CNN) -- Two New York City disk jockeys are looking for work. WNEW-FM canceled the "Opie and Anthony" show after they urged listeners to have sex in public places. Last week, a man and a woman, encouraged by the shock jocks, were arrested and accused of having sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral. The station is owned by Infinity Broadcasting, a Viacom subsidiary, which owns 180 radio stations in 22 states. Did "Opie and Anthony" deserve to have the plug pulled?

Radio personality Doug Tracht, known to listeners as "The Greaseman," and Tom Marr, who hosts a talk show on Baltimore's WCMB radio, step into the "Crossfire" with hosts James Carville and Tucker Carlson.

CARVILLE: Greaseman, do they put pressure on you for ratings?

TRACHT: They do.

CARVILLE: Do they come in, and do they...

TRACHT: You know what it's like? It's like being a police officer where they say, we have some crime, we need aggressive policing. We want you out there aggressively tracking the bad guys down.

You get out there, you aggressively do it. The next thing you know, whoops, someone's head went through a plate glass window. Ooh, a little too aggressive.

The next thing you know they say, we don't want -- we don't tolerate ... this police department. We don't want officers like that; we don't want any of this kind of thing going on.

It's similar in the radio. You've got to get out there. You've got to battle them. And then when something happens, OK, here's your publicity, we don't want any part of it.

CARLSON: But they didn't push anybody's head through a plate glass window. They said if you like us, you'll go out and, you know, mate in a vestibule of a church. So isn't it -- they're not the ones who committed the crime -- I guess if it was a crime -- the radio show hosts weren't.

I mean, this does get back to the "if I ask you to jump off a bridge" question, doesn't it?

MARR: These guys are irrelevant now. They're done. They're finished. They'll never be back.

The point is, what is the sanction that's going to be handed out by the FCC? And ratings, let's talk -- you've got to do sex to get ratings.

The most successful -- and I know you're not going to like this, James -- Rush Limbaugh is the most successful radio talk show host, syndicated, in the world. He doesn't do this potty mouth sewer radio. And neither...

CARLSON: But there is a sexual undercurrent.

MARR: Well, every once in awhile.

But neither does G. Gordon Liddy. And they get good ratings.

CARVILLE: Let me go and say this: If I told this audience right now, I will give anybody $10,000 to go urinate in the Lincoln Memorial, if they go, who's at fault? I'll say I am.

And that's the problem. You can go -- and I disagree with you. I think these guys -- but getting fired from radio is like getting fired as a baseball manager. They just come back...

MARR: They're not coming back.

CARVILLE: Who is at fault here? The people that did this, or the people that say, we're going to give you money if you jack your ratings up, we don't care?

They knew this campaign was going on. They didn't do anything to stop it. The company people didn't do anything to stop it. They were publicizing. They only did something when it got caught and there was a huge outcry.

MARR: That's why they've got to -- you think Viacom would miss a million-five if they got fined? They've got to snatch that license.

CARLSON: Well, Greaseman hold on. Please answer this question: Why won't they be back? They seem talented. Why won't they get a job again?

TRACHT: If the station wants to take a chance that's outside the companies, the gargantuan companies feel the threat of boycotts and problems of stock holders, they can find a station that's owned by an individual and that individual says, all right, we've told you what the envelope is, don't cross this envelope, still be the same wacky duo that you've always been. We'll take the heat right now. They've said their story, they can come back that way.

Whether they'll come back as the spearhead of another gargantuan company in the next few years is unlikely.

MARR: Listen, they're not going to get that offer from the owner of my company. We'd have been out on our keister within 25 seconds of saying anything like that.

They're not going to get an offer. They're done. Those two are finished as a team in radio.




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