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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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February 20, 2014 - 1:50 pm

Good piece from Howard Kurtz at Fox. Well, mostly good. First, the positives:

What on earth is the FCC thinking?

The last thing we need is the government mucking around with news content.

The title of this Big Brother-ish effort by the Federal Communications Commission sounds innocuous enough: “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs.” But it’s a Trojan horse that puts federal officials in the newsroom, precisely where they shouldn’t be.

Don’t take my word for it. The FCC says it wants to examine “the process by which stories are selected,” as well as “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”

Perceived station bias? Are you kidding me? Government bureaucrats are going to decide whether a newsroom is being fair?

Kurtz notes that the FCC can approve or deny broadcast licenses, so its innocuous little study isn’t so innocuous. There may be teeth behind the smiley face.

But then Kurtz does that thing where he blocks out all the other evidence that this administration is energetic in its efforts to cage things up.

Now some of the commentary about this is overheated, with talk of an FCC “thought police” and so on. The effort is beginning in a single city. But already there are signs that the commission is backing off.

Adweek reports that “controversial” sections of the study will be “revisited” under new chairman Tom Wheeler. An FCC official told the publication that the agency “has no intention of interfering in the coverage and editorial choices that journalists make. We’re closely reviewing the proposed research design to determine if an alternative approach is merited.”

The FCC should keep its alternative approaches to itself, as even the posing of these questions carries an intimidation factor. The government has no business meddling in how journalism is practiced. And if George W. Bush’s FCC had tried this, it would be a front-page story.

Indeed, and the fact that it isn’t presents one reason that this effort is a serious threat. It just doesn’t look like the media will put up much of a fight, because roughly 90% of them are progressives. Some in the media might even go along, if there was a chance that the FCC could end up re-instating the Fairness Doctrine, which is really what this exercise in snoopery is all about.

Ever since President Reagan scuttled the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, Democrats have been trying to get it reinstated. It shouldn’t be. It was an Orwellian system by which broadcast speech in America was never truly free. The reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine might, if applied to the current media landscape, force Fox to become more like MSNBC, while at least under this administration, MSNBC would not be required to become more like Fox. It might force stations that currently air conservative radio shows back to back to back to air liberals, despite the fact that liberal talk radio is a proven loser in the ratings and revenue. If the FCC gets the full reach that it wants, it might even force conservative web sites like this one to go left, always without reciprocity from the other side. Could the FCC even get its hands on Drudge? I’m sure that the Democrats who support the Fairness Doctrine would love to do just that. It has already signaled how it would justify forcing right outlets to go left without forcing left to go right. The justification would be in forcing right outlets to serve the “underserved populations” that the FCC has already identified. Conservatives, who have always been underserved by the national media, will never get a place among those groups, but every conceivable leftwing group will.

There’s an even crazier long-run possibility in all this: The modern newsroom is often virtual. It’s a home office or corner in the bedroom or a spot at the local cafe, with a laptop, tablet and cell phone. I work a thousand miles away from my newsroom. Just how intrusive does the FCC plan on getting?

Given this administration’s history of wiretapping and monitoring reporters who were just doing their jobs, and given this administration’s penchant for asking Americans to spy on and report on each other (remember Attack Watch?) there is no reason to believe that it has benign intentions here. There are many reasons to suspect that it is up to no good.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
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Remember, this is how the Paranoid-in-Chief treats those friendly to him and his agenda. Imagine how he would treat those who oppose him if he could do so with impunity.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
FCC Chief: We’re Not Going to Police Your Newsroom

“If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. Period.”

“If you like your newsroom, you can keep your newsroom. If you like your freedom of press, you can keep your freedom of press. Period.”
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is the most depressing news I've heard in the last six years, and that's saying something.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
What's depressing is that we have a citizenry who is prepared to bend over and take whatever dear leader gives them, so long as he provides enough free stuff.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is a corrupt effort, by this administration, to affect the 2014 midterm elections. They are using as many of the federal agencies as they can. Amongst them, the IRS investigating conservative organizations, the DOJ filing suit against states that have passed voter ID laws, and now the FCC trying to muzzle the 1st Amendment. You can be sure, that FOX news will get more attentions than MSNBC, CNN, ABC, etc. This blatant attack on the Bill of Rights is enabled by weak Republican responses to these abuses.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
I suspect this effort is aimed not mainly at fox, who has the resources to fight back, but at small local radio stations who broadcast conservative talk radio, and small local TV that is not sufficiently leftist and not sufficiently serving "underserved populations", which is basically a euphemism for minority grievance groups. These small local stations do not have the resources to fight back, and are very dependent on FCC good will, and much easier to intimidate.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
The only things I think broadcast media should be forced to cover are weather emergencies and Amber Alerts. Beyond that, the government shouild butt out.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
And normally they do, because these things are news, and people want to hear about them. This initiative, with its talk about "underserved populations" is basically a way to force local TV to serve dem racial grievance and identity groups, and local leftist groups.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
The "Your papers please" fascist police state culture doesn't belong in America at all. Not at the airport, not in the schools, not in taking a job, in getting health care, and not in the newsrooms.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
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