The Devil and Andy Rooney

According to a brand new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, 75 percent of Americans support stricter rules regarding nudity and sex on television. Just 19 percent say no. And 56 percent say the Jackson-Timberlake Super Bowl (search) exposition was disrespectful. Twenty-nine percent disagree.

Andy Rooney is with the 29 percent.

The 85-year-old CBS commentator is perhaps TV's most visible pundit. Mr. Rooney often takes a secular viewpoint. Here's what he said Sunday night.


ANDY ROONEY, “60 MINUTES”: Sorry I missed seeing Janet Jackson with her shirt off. I did see reruns on television after in my hotel room. And I thought the guy grabbing his crotch with his clothes on was more offensive than Janet Jackson's breast with her shirt off. With all the filth on television and in the movies, I don't know what the uproar was all about anyway. We all know what a breast looks like. They say children were watching, but there's nothing most kids haven't seen by the time they're about seven.


Now we respect Mr. Rooney's opinion, even though he won't talk with us. But "Talking Points" believes the man is completely out of touch with the folks. And so is the elite media in general.

Only three major newspapers editorialized against the Jackson incident: Newsday, The Miami Herald, and The Seattle Times. Those papers each cited the collapse of American culture and the inappropriateness of the venue where Ms. Jackson did what she did.

The reason the culture is in such trouble is that elites like Rooney, network news in general, liberal pundits and cowardly politicians have all failed to make judgments about obvious bad behavior encouraged by the media. So we have now as a culture that drowns children with sex and violence and a society that largely looks the other way.

The culture war in America should be a primary issue in the upcoming presidential campaign. The federal government's mandate is to protect Americans from harm. Surely, what kids are exposed to in the media today is largely harmful.

President Bush and Senator Kerry can promise you stuff all day long, but if they are not engaged on the culture war, they're doing you a disservice. In my newspaper column this week, I make the point that this isn't about sin or body parts, Andy. This is about a culture that encourages Americans to be irresponsible and libertine. And if an American buys into that, he or she will have a very hard time making a decent living.

A tattoo on your neck is not going to get you a white-collar job. Thus in 10 years, kids who are now embracing piercings, gang signs, and obscene language are going to be at a tremendous disadvantage. Life is tough even for those who figure it out. Those who buy into the cesspool that is popular culture today are going to be really sorry.

And that's The Memo.

The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Some housekeeping.

Tuseday morning, your humble correspondent -- that's me -- will appear on "Good Morning America" at 7:30 a.m. -- ugh -- because my novel, "Those Who Trespass," is being re-released tomorrow. That's the book Mel Gibson has optioned for the movies.

It's an R-rated thriller, not for children, not for adults who find strong situations objectionable. The book accurately reflects what goes on inside the television news industry and inside the New York City Police Department.

Again, it is not for kids. My nonfiction bestseller "Who's Looking Out for You?" is for everybody and rises to No. 4 next Sunday on "The New York Times" bestseller list where it's been for nearly five months.

Industry people tell me lots of folks are buying the book as a Valentine's gift. That makes me very happy. Everybody should be looking out for their Valentine!

Finally, "The Radio Factor" is now available on for premium members. We're going to stream it every day. It will be posted at 9:00 p.m. ET.

“The Factor” on the radio is heard on more than 400 stations all over the country, but now everybody can hear it on the Net. And it's a little rowdy. It's a little more rowdy than the television program so you might enjoy that, all right.