Warning to Howard Stern: Mess with Michael Powell, and his dad will fire back at you. Secretary of State Colin Powell responded on Wednesday to Stern's accusation that his son got his job as head of the Federal Communications Commission as a favor to his influential father. The elder Powell called the shock jock's charge ''just so much nonsense'' during an interview on CNBC.
Michael Powell, whose commission has levied record fines for indecency over Stern's broadcasts, took an unexpected call from Stern during an interview on a San Francisco radio station on Tuesday. The King of All Media charged Powell with benefiting from nepotism and carrying out a vendetta against Stern and Viacom (parent company of Infinity, which syndicates Stern's radio morning show, and of CBS and MTV, the programmers of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl appearance). Powell denied Stern's charges, noting that President Clinton appointed him to fill a Republican vacancy on the commission, where he served for four years before President Bush promoted him to the top FCC post upon taking office in 2001.
On Wednesday, Colin Powell defended his son's credentials, saying, ''My son is an enormously qualified individual, and I think he has served if I may say so as a father and as a not-so-distant observer with great distinction.'' He added, ''For all I know he might have had influence in getting me to become Secretary of State.'' (Um, right, Mr. Secretary, the president appointed you to oversee the nation's foreign policy in order to curry favor with an FCC commissioner.) In any case, the Powells won't have Stern to kick around much longer; starting in January 2006, he's decamping for satellite radio, where he can be as indecent as he wants without being subject to FCC rules.