WASHINGTON — Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D) of Connecticut decried a "culture of carnage" surrounding America's young people and told a Senate committee Wednesday that the government should stop the marketing of violent movies, music, and video games to children if the industry fails to police itself.
Parents feel "locked in a losing competition with the culture to raise our children," said Mr. Lieberman, a longtime opponent of violence and sex in the media who helped bring the issue into the presidential campaign as Democratic nominee Al Gore's running mate.
The hearing followed a scathing Federal Trade Commission report this week that asserted the entertainment industry was peddling adult material to underage audiences. Federal media regulators have announced they'll take a closer look at the amount of sex and violence on TV networks.
Senators used the hearing to accuse entertainment executives and to criticize them for failing to show up to defend themselves. "Their hubris is stunning," said Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona, head of the Commerce Committee, who convened the hearing.
He called another hearing in two weeks specifically to hear from the heads of Time Warner, Walt Disney Co., Newscorp, Viacom, Miramax, and others.
Lieberman reiterated a pledge by the Gore campaign to crack down on the industry if it doesn't shape up in six months. His Republican opponent, George W. Bush, has questioned Gore's credibility on the issue and said the solution should rest with parents and political persuasion, not new federal regulation.
The FTC report decried the entertainment industry's "pervasive and aggressive marketing" to children of adult material - such as R-rated movies or video games intended for mature audiences. Music distributors and video-gamemakers said they have worked hard to implement voluntary ratings.
Lynne Cheney, wife of GOP vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney, zeroed in on the lyrics of rap star Eminem's song "Kill You": "They could not be more despicable. They could not be more hateful." Eminem's album, "The Marshall Mathers LP," is one of the hottest-selling music releases.
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