California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on "The Tonight Show" last night and his opponent in the gubernatorial election, California State Treasurer Phil Angelides -- who wasn't invited to appear on the program --argues that's a violation of the Communications Act of 1959, a provision of which includes the "equal-time rule." The Angelides campaign fired off letters to NBC affiliates, urging them not to air the program or to provide Angelides with equal time. Under the rule, the FCC requires that broadcasters give an equal amount of air time to political candidates running for office. There are exemptions, however, for news programs, interviews or documentaries. And that's why NBC says the network is not required to provide equal time to Angelides. The Washington Post notes NBC's statement:
"Consistent with 'The Tonight Show With Jay Leno's' previous practice, NBC is following the news guidelines for interviewing a political candidate," the network said yesterday in a statement. "Under the news guidelines, the scheduled appearance of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the Oct. 11 broadcast is not subject to the FCC's equal-time provisions."On behalf of Angelides, Rep. Xavier Becerra, (D-Los Angeles) wrote a letter of complaint to the president of the FCC. It appears, however, that NBC's position is not necessarily without precedent. According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications Web site, "The FCC has also labeled shows such as "The Phil Donahue Show" and "Good Morning America" news interview programs," and therefore exempt from the equal time rule.
In other news, running for president has reached three. In addition to George Clooney's declaration last month that his political candidacy would be "a bad idea," Warren Beatty recently informed The New York Times that "rather than run for public office, I would prefer to eat my own knee." For his part, Jon Stewart told an audience in New York City: "Nothing says, 'I am ashamed of you, my government,' more than 'Stewart/Colbert '08.'"