Howard Stern hasn't even begun his judging stint on "America's Got Talent," and already he has at least one conservative group frothing with outrage.
The professional moralizers in the Parents Television Council issued a strongly worded letter to 91 companies that have advertised on "America's Got Talent," cautioning that they might not want to advertise on the NBC series again once Stern joins the judges' panel for the May 14 season premiere of the show.
As PTC president Tim Winter sees it, the inclusion of shock jock Stern will dirty the waters of the talent competition shows, which heretofore have served as a squeaky-clean oasis of family-friendly viewing.
"Programs like 'AGT' have offered millions of American families a brief respite from the otherwise-ubiquitous stream of violent, profane and sexually-explicit content on primetime broadcast television," Winter's letter says. "Talent/performance competitions like 'American Idol,' 'Dancing with the Stars,' 'The Voice' and 'AGT' are among the highest-rated programs on the air. A key reason is that these programs have been relatively safe for family viewing. NBC’s decision to add Mr. Stern to 'AGT' will likely result in a sharp increase in explicit content, and we urge you to be mindful when considering a media buy."
Winter goes on to chronicle Stern's "reputation for sleaze and misogyny," including a critique of former "American Idol" contestant Fantasia Barrino that lamented that she's "not getting little boys hard … Little boys want boners.”
Winter adds that, beyond a penchant for salty language, Stern might be unqualified for the "America's Got Talent" job: "[T]o our knowledge his only previous judging experience consisted of looking at insecure, naked young women and telling them whether or not they were hot enough to pose for 'Playboy.'"
NBC has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment.
Though Winter, like everyone else, has no idea how Stern will conduct himself on "America's Got Talent," he assumes the worst anyway and stops an inch short of calling for a boycott of the show.
"Unless and until his conduct consistently reflects and respects the time, place and manner of an 8:00 p.m. broadcast television program, we would urge you and your advertising agency to consider alternate network television programming for your media dollars," Winter writes. "The risk of associating your hard-earned corporate brand image with such “shock” is not worth the cost involved – a cost not just in terms of wasted media dollars, but also in terms of countless millions of dollars in customer goodwill."
A reliable player in the culture wars, the Parents Television Council has waged campaigns against NBC's "The Playboy Club," Fox's "Glee," MTV's adaptation of the British series "Skins," the Billboard Music Awards and many, many others.