Newt Minow Getting Presidential Medal of Freedom

DeGeneres, Scully and Michaels also honored
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The White House will be giving out 21 Presidential Medals of Freedom Nov. 22 at a White House ceremony and several media figures have made the grade, including former FCC chairman Newt Minow. The event will be live streamed at www.whitehouse.gov/live.

The medal is the highest civilian honor and is for individuals—including athletes, activists and artists—who have made "especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors," the White House said in naming the recipients Nov. 16.

President Obama said the 21 honorees "have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way."

The White House said Minow—who famously dubbed TV a "vast wasteland" in calling it to the better angels of its programming nature in 1961—"helped shape the future of American television and was a vigorous advocate for broadcasting that promoted the public interest," adding: "In the five decades since leaving the FCC, Minow has maintained a prominent private law practice while devoting himself to numerous public and charitable causes." That includes a pioneering role in presidential debates.

Other media figures included sports broadcaster Vin Scully, who retired this year as the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers; SNL producer Lorne Michaels; and talk show host and Ellen DeGeneres. DeGeneres got White House props for her turn as the "unforgettable little fish" Dory in Finding Nemo, as well as hosting the Academy Awards and her syndicated talk show.

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