Foul-mouthed radio personality Howard Stern has another Powell to reckon with: Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.
The nation's top diplomat came to the defense of his son, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael K. Powell, after Stern said the younger Powell got the job only because of his family name. Colin Powell labeled the accusation "just so much nonsense."
"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," Powell said Wednesday in an interview with CNBC.
Stern's raunchy radio show has brought repeated fines by the FCC, and the shock jock routinely rails against what he says is the Bush administration's desire to use the FCC to stifle free speech on radio and TV.
Stern made a surprise call to KGO-AM radio in San Francisco while Michael Powell was a studio guest Tuesday.
"How did you get your job?" Stern asked. "It is apparent to most of us in broadcasting that your father got you your job, and you kind of sit there and you're the judge, you're the arbiter, you're the one who tells us what we can and can't say on the air."
Stern added, "I really don't even think you're qualified to be the head of the commission."
Powell responded, "I think it's a cheap shot to say just because my father is famous, I don't belong in my position."
Powell, a Republican, was appointed to the commission by President Clinton in 1997 and became chairman when President Bush took office in 2001. Powell denied Stern's charge and listed his qualifications, saying he is an attorney and was chief of staff of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division.
Colin Powell noted that his son became a commissioner of the FCC "long before I became secretary of State. For all I know, he might have had some influence in getting me to become secretary of State."