Record execs stiff Senator

E! Online
Feb 20, 1997
by Jeff B. Copeland

The Recording Industry Association of America yesterday said no thanks to Senator Joseph Lieberman, who planned to meet with record executives in Washington Friday, as part of his campaign against "perverse" lyrics. R.I.A.A. President Hilary Rosen sent Lieberman a letter yesterday saying the executives didn't want to sit in the same room with former Education Secretary William Bennett and C. DeLores Tucker, president of the National Political Congress of Black Women, whom Lieberman had also invited.

The senator, Tucker and Bennett (now co-director of a group called Empower America), have slammed the industry in general and Universal in particular for peddling acts such as Snoop Doggy Dogg, Tupac Shakur and Marilyn Manson. Rosen said her group was willing to meet with Lieberman because he's an elected official--but not his unelected friends.

Anyway, she wrote, Bennett and Tucker "have berated our companies repeatedly in the press, they have aggressively sought public forums to denigrate the personal motives of our artists and executives and, most recently, they have gone to state legislatures to blackball company stock investments." That last comment was an apparent reference to the Texas Education Agency which recently dumped its $3.5 million stock holding in Seagram, Universal's parent, after state legislators made Bennett- and Tucker-like statements.

Rosen also reminded Lieberman that the industry puts warning labels on album covers but basically thinks that parents are responsible for what goes in their children's ears. "Music," she continued, "is expression only, not action. Streets are filled with guns, families are torn by violence and the news is full of atrocities. For artists to ignore this is impossible."

Take me, take my friends, Lieberman said in a statement of "anger" today. He, Bennett and Tucker "have always worked as a team in this effort (and) any meeting should include the three of us...All that we are asking for is an opportunity to be heard face-to-face."

Bennett added that "these record companies are proud to put out music that is extremely racist and misogynistic" but wouldn't meet with Tucker, a black woman. "That speaks volumes about where these recording companies are coming from."