To bleep or not to bleep. That was the question facing KARE-TV (Channel 11) news director Tom Lindner before the station aired its "Extra" segment on the 10:00 p.m. news this past Wednesday, November 14. The story documented the reunion of two long-separated brothers, Tom and Dean Weisser. As the camera captured the pair's first embrace in more than two decades, an overcome-by-emotion Dean sobbed to his wayward brother, "I'll say this again: You could have called, asshole."
When the story aired, nary a bleep was to be heard. "We agonized over using the word," Lindner recounts. "It's not normal for us to include language like that in the newscast. But we thought in the context of the story it made sense. Guys say things like that to each other. It was a natural moment."
According to Lindner, the station has no written policy on censoring language; calls are made on the basis of context. "I don't know if asshole has aired," he says. "I know in times past we've let ass and shit air on the 10:00 p.m. newscast."
In the days following the broadcast of the Weisser brothers piece, Lindner reports, the station received more than 50 phone calls and e-mails. Many were from people searching for their own lost relatives; others called to compliment the story. No one, Lindner says, made any mention of the use of the word asshole. -- By Mike Mosedale
About a dozen exercisers are cycling away in the back corner of the weight room, taking part in that torture regimen known as Spinning Class. As the bikers sweat and strain, their jovial leader offers the requisite pep chatter.