Americans are ignoring a crisis of monumental proportions as the 1st Amendment continues a downward spiral. From the incestuous relationship progressives engaged in with media in the 2008 and 2012 general elections to the weaponization of the Internal Revenue Service in persecuting government reform groups, few Americans have experienced the disregard for freedom of speech we are seeing at present.
The latest attack originated in the Federal Communications Commission, with commissioner Ajit Pai warning the public about the agency’s intrusion into newsrooms, including those of print newspapers.
More attention was directed at the initiative by the American Center for Law and Justice. The only conclusion a logical person can come to is that it is time to replace the chairman of the FCC.
“The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about ‘the process by which stories are selected’ and how often stations cover ‘critical information needs,’ along with ‘perceived station bias’ and ‘perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.’”
DOES THE FCC PLAN TO SHAPE OUR NEWS?
The FCC decided on 8 categories of “critical information” as a paradigm. Among them are the environment—perhaps a nod to President Barack Obama’s reignited climate change debate as his approval ratings have declined largely due to the government’s inept takeover of healthcare—and economic opportunities.
Along the way, the FCC has likely been influenced by a lengthy report from the Knight Commission on the “Information Needs of Communities.” A report from Knight included a progressive policy model [boldface added]:
“’A community is a healthy democratic community—it is an ‘informed community’—when:
People have convenient access to both civic and life-enhancing information, without regard to income or social status.
Journalism is abundant in many forms and accessible through many convenient platforms.
Government is open and transparent.
People have affordable high-speed Internet service wherever and whenever they want and need it.
Digital and media literacy are widely taught in schools, public libraries and other community centers.
Technological and civic expertise is shared across the generations.
Local media—including print, broadcast, and online media—reflect the issues, events, experiences and ideas of the entire community.
People have a deep understanding of the role of free speech and free press rights in maintaining a democratic community.
Citizens are active in acquiring and sharing knowledge both within and across social networks.
People can assess and track changes in the information health of their communities.’”
Knight isn’t a government entity, so the organization’s decision to express opinions is appropriate, and some are commendable. However, if opinion from a think tank moves a government agency such as the FCC to dictate content, that is not appropriate. It is in fact a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
WHY SHOULD YOU WORRY?
Some who read this may believe there is nothing to be concerned about—can’t a government agency go on a fact-finding mission in the interest of serving the public? Yes. However, broadcasters have to renew their licenses through the FCC.
Considering the tactics the Obama administration and Democrats past and present have employed in an effort to control media and the powerful IRS, does anyone think for a minute a broadcaster might not draw negative attention if he or she is opposed to status quo government policy?
Is the progressives’ Balkanization approach in play here? Does it have to do with the political meme of diversity? Not if reality is considered.
A study undertaken by experts at Howard University, published on the FCC website, noted that cross media ownership did not negatively impact minority or women-owned broadcast stations. The only problem that appears to have arisen in the context of diversity involved “the issue of the FCC’s lax monitoring of obscene and pornographic material in Spanish-language radio and the lack of racial and national-origin diversity among Latino staff in Spanish-language television.”
“[T]he Obama Administration has developed a formula of what it believes the free press should cover, and it is going to send government monitors into newsrooms across America to stand over the shoulders of the press as they make editorial decisions…This poses a monumental danger to constitutionally protected free speech and freedom of the press.”
Commissioner Pai appears to agree:
“The FCC also wants to wade into office politics. One question for reporters is: ‘Have you ever suggested coverage of what you consider a story with critical information for your customers that was rejected by management?’ Follow-up questions ask for specifics about how editorial discretion is exercised, as well as the reasoning behind the decisions.”
This intrusion into the newsroom across media spectrums is as bad as if not worse than the failed Fairness Doctrine socialist-progressives wielded so successfully to help them retain control of the U.S. House for decades, after the doctrine’s inception under the Democrat president Harry Truman.
FIRE THE CHAIRMAN
That the FCC even entertained these ideas indicates a new chairman is warranted. There is no ambiguity whatsoever about limitations on government when it comes to the press and free speech. That leading progressives are silent about this suggests they are acquiescing to the loss of citizens’ rights purely for political reasons.
Reporters without Borders recently placed the U.S. as 46th in the world for freedom of the press—a drop of 13 places compared to previous rankings.
More than 2 dozen “journalists” have gone to work for the Obama administration since 2009. We should remember the collusion of “journalists” via a network called “Journolist” started by a Washington Post blogger enabling media and academics to strategize coverage that largely benefited Obama.
No free country should tolerate this behavior in media, and no free country should take seriously any media engaging in such matters or cooperating with the FCC’s CIN willingly.
Americans often ignore news like this because it isn’t sexy, doesn’t appeal to greed, and isn’t related to a natural disaster. However, no issue is more important because if the First Amendment is undermined, all liberties suffer.
Americans should demand the FCC chairman’s removal—in the interest of the “general Welfare” specified in the U.S. Constitution.
(Analysis by Kay B. Day/Feb. 19, 2014)