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Ari & I: May 4, 2001

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer gestures as he speaks to reporters at the White House briefing room April 2, 2003 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mokhiber: Ari, I have a question about commercialism's reach into areas that were previously off limits to commercialism. Alcatel, the French telecommunications firm, has procured the rights to Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech. They are running ads nationwide to use his speech to sell telephone equipment. They have also procured the rights to Lou Gehrig's farewell speech at Yankee Stadium in 1939 -- to sell telecommunications equipment. I know the Yankees were here today, and the [Yankee's] radio announcers are required to say on a double play -- "there's a Jiffy Lube double play," or on a home run,"there's a Coor's Light [Silver] Bullet blast." Does the President believe there are any limits to commercialism in terms of where it can and cannot go?

Ari Fleischer: There are of course a series of laws that govern communications activities. That's a question that you need to address to the Federal Communications Commission.

Mokhiber: Well, I was actually interested in the President's beliefs. For example, would he be offended by an oil ad on the back of a Texas Rangers shirt?

Ari Fleischer: The President believes that the law needs to be followed within the bounds of the free enterprise system.

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