Government Watchdogs to Hound Newshounds

The first, initial reaction to the news that the FCC, a bureaucracy instituted by FDR in 1934, wants to install human monitors in television, cable television, and print media newsrooms to make sure they comply with the government’s social engineering program, was laughter from this Conservative.

 

The Media already does their bidding; what more does the Government want them to do?  The Media does everything but put on cheerleader costumes and wave pom-poms.     

 

Nevertheless, the Federal Communications Commission is sending out investigators to radio and TV stations throughout the country — and to daily and weekly newspapers too — asking intrusive questions about how they decide what news to cover.

The questions, being sent to assignment editors, on-air reporters, print correspondents, editors, publishers, and owners all ask who makes the decision and based on what criteria.  

The FCC will also do a content analysis of every radio and TV station and newspapers to see if they are covering each of 8 areas of  “critical information” adequately including the environment, economic opportunity, poverty etc.

Since radio and TV stations must apply for licenses every 8 years, the questions are highly intimidating and could lay the basis for federal censorship.

The FCC is basing its study on a “finding” by the Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Southern California that news media now does not adequately cover the news of importance to minority populations.
8 years, the questions are highly intimidating and could lay the basis for federal censorship.

The FCC is basing its study on a “finding” by the Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Southern California that news media now does not adequately cover the news of importance to minority populations.

 

According to PJ Media:  “In its most radical move in decades, the Federal Communications Commission is looking to insert its officers into newsrooms around the country.  Fox News Wednesday that the FCC says that it has identified eight “underserved populations” and is now looking for ways to make sure that those communities get more new coverage.

 

“The Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs (CINs) initiative was proposed last May. The FCC explained that it wanted information from television and radio broadcasters “to ascertain the process by which stories are selected, station priorities (for content production quality and populations served), perceived station bias, perceived percent of news dedicated to each of the eight CIN’s and perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”

 

“The FCC has identified eight CINs, or key topics that the government believes should be covered.  The possibility of the FCC even suggesting topics for media news coverage is chilling.

 

“The FCC claims that the study is ‘voluntary,’ but the commission licenses the broadcasters that it seeks to monitor. The threat of penalties and even license revocation is real.

 

“FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai warns that the study has the potential to become a heavy-handed means of pressuring reporters into making editorial decisions that fall in line with government wishes.

 

“Last May, the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

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.’

 

“The study was supposed to begin this week, but so far the FCC’s officers have not shown up. Republicans in Congress are urging the FCC to scuttle the monitoring plan.

 

“The study comes at a time when the Department of Justice has been caught tracking the movements of reporters and bugging their phone lines. It comes after Americans have learned that the National Security Agency has been scooping up information on our online and social media activity and our cell phone metadata.

 

“The FCC has repeatedly sought to expand its authority over the Internet via “net neutrality,” and over newspapers, which have never been subjected to FCC scrutiny before. The FCC was created to regulate broadcast transmissions via radio, television, wire, satellite and cable, but not content of media reports. FCC commissioners are presidential appointments. All of the commission’s five members were appointed to their posts by President Obama, but only three may belong to the president’s political party at any one time.

 

“The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech individually and for the media, stating that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of the press.” The FCC’s CIN study appears to be a means of getting around the First Amendment.  Congress is not being tasked with passing a law allowing the monitoring of newsrooms.  No such law would get through both houses of Congress, and if one did, it would never stand up in court.

 

“The United States under President Barack Obama has fallen to 46th place in the world in press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders.”

 

When I worked in company public relations, every word we wrote underwent scrutiny.  Did we do enough “branding” (mention the company’s name enough).  Was the company positively represented?  Were the employees properly vetted through two managerial levels?  Were they employees of good standing?  If a claim was pending (I worked for an insurance company), had the lawyers thoroughly reviewed it?  We always knew when they had because the stories came back unreadable.

 

We writers understood and had no problem with it.  This was the company’s magazine or website; it was their dime.

 

But for the government to be demanding oversight of public newspapers and radio and television outlets reaches way beyond their mandate as provided for by the Constitution’s First Amendment.  What they’re trying to do is one of the reasons the American Revolution occurred in the first place.

 

Low-information voters may never have heard of Peter Zenger (the other morning, TheBlaze tried an experiment on the streets of Manhattan, with a reporter asking people on the street if they knew that Franklin Roosevelt had died.  Their responses were appalling and risible:  ‘Oh that’s terrible.  He was a great man.  Our prayers go out to his family.  He did a lot of great things for America, like Manifest Destiny.’).

 

Pete Zenger.  Oh yeah, yeah.  He played bass guitar with the Grateful Dead!  Uh – no.  Benjamin Franklin wrote in his “Apology to Printers” that, ‘If all printers were determined not to print any thing till they were sure it would offend no body, there would be very little printed.”

 

John Peter Zenger (October 26, 1697 – July 28, 1746) was a German American printer, publisher, editor, and journalist in New York City.  Zenger printed The New York Weekly Journal.  He was a defendant  in a landmark legal case known as “The Zenger Trial,” in which his lawyer, Andrew Hamilton, established that truth is a defense against charges of libel. In late 1733, Zenger began printing The New York Weekly Journal to voice his opinions critical of the colonial governor, William Cosby.  In November 1734, Zenger was arrested by the sheriff on the orders of Cosby and after a grand jury refused to indict him was charged with libel in August 1735 by the attorney general Richard Bradley.

Upon his arrival in New York, Cosby plunged into a rancorous quarrel with the Council of the Colony over his salary.  Unable to control the state’s supreme court he removed Chief Justice Lewis Morris, replacing him with James DeLancey of the Royal Party. Supported by members of the popular party, Zenger’s New-York Weekly Journal continued to publish articles critical of the royal governor. Finally, Cosby issued a proclamation condemning the newspaper’s “divers scandalous, virulent, false, and seditious reflections.”

Zenger was arrested and charged with seditious libel on Nov. 17, 1734. After more than eight months in prison, Zenger went to trial defended by illustrious Philadelphia lawyer Andrew Hamilton. The case was now a cause celebre with public interest at fever-pitch. Rebuffed repeatedly by Chief DeLancey during the trial, Hamilton decided to plead his client’s case directly to the jury. After the arguments for both sides were finished, the jury was retired, only to return in ten minutes with a verdict of not guilty.

 

In his defense, Zenger wrote, through his New York Weekly Journal:

“Government is that sacred Institution, the Late Chief Justice called it, and the Magistrates and Ministers of it, the Channels thro’ which the Blessings intended by it flow to the Society, and the Protectors of them  in the Injoyment of them; and to speak irreverently and disrespectfully of Magistrates and Government, considered as such , was and is, always will be, criminal in the Sight of God and Men.  – A good Magistrate  is one of the greatest temporal blessings, and an ill one is one of the greatest Curses, God can give to Men; and while Magistrates Act suitable to the good Intention of their Institution, they will acquire (as they deserve) a suitable Return of Praise, and gratefull Acknowledgments of, the good they do.  But when a Magistrate acts differently from the Ends of his Institution, and in Stead of Protecting of me uses his Power to oppress me, when he warps the Laws, which were made for the Preservation of the Society, and turns them to their Destruction, and makes Power, and not Right, the Rule and Measure of his Actions, he cannot, nor ought not, to claim any Respect, because he deserves none.  To give such a Magistrate publick or private Respect, is acting against the Ends of Government and common Sense; is joyning with him in making those miserable that he was sent to make happy.  And to speak well of him when he is know to do Ill, is right down Lying; which the greatest Advocates for Tyranny, how much so ever they desire it, won’t have the Face to own, that any Man is under a natural or moral Obligation to do, but the contrary, I am sure the People of England thought so, in the latter end of the Reign of Charles the 2nd, and in the Reign of King James the 2nd, when the Liberties of the Nation were given up by the Judges, whose Names and Memory will be infamous, while Liberty and History remain.  If they had not thought it lawfull to speak of Men as they deserved, and had not spoke, AND ACTED TOO, against that King and his Ministers (not withstanding their high Stations) we should not now have been sensible of the blessed Effects of a GLORIOUS REVOLUTION, where the Hand of God (as if often has done) as well as Man, appeared on the Side of Liberty…

“I don’t well know what the Observer means by Libels against the Government.  Some People have a Knack of calling any Paper they don’t like, that treats of Governours or Magistrates, a Libel against the Government; or if an ill Governour or Magistrate is described, or the ill Actions of any such, they (by a Happiness of Intervention peculiar to themselves) presently think it is leveled at the Governour and Magistrates for the Time being.  Ask them why they think so?  They’ll immediately reply that the Thing is very plain.  Ask them wherein?  But to that they’ll make no Reply, but that it is so.”

The Colonists were fighting back against the British Crown, whose argument that any criticism of the government was seditious libel.  But Zenger’s lawyers argued that if the criticism was true, no matter how damaging it might be to the subject, it was not libel.

Joe Wilson was censured by the Senate for calling our Dictator-in-Chief a liar when he promised that the Affordable Care Act would make health care affordable for all Americans.  We have come very far from the foundation of the Constitution, if reporters, radio and television hosts, and even bloggers must live in fear that they might offend the government, or fail or refuse to comply with the government’s mandates, the result being that their license to broadcast, print or post is revoked.

This FCC “experiment” is bad news for all Americans.  We TEA partiers knew something was wrong when Republican operatives told us to take down our signs.  Some of us knew.  In a separate move against website operators, the FCC is considering the Net Neutrality Rules.

All this is being done without the consent of Congress, by a bureaucracy unaccountable to the people of the United States or their Congress.  The FCC is under no obligation to abide by the Constitution.  All broadcasters can hope to do is bring a lawsuit against the FCC in the future and hope that by that time the Supreme Court isn’t backed with Liberal, Progressive magistrates.

We need to act against this usurpation of our First Amendment rights before it’s too late.  For once this kind of regulation is implemented, we will have no recourse to the truth or justice.  We will hear only what the Government wants to know and say only what the Government wants to hear, and if a broadcaster or publisher does not comply, they can be fined, imprisoned and put out of business.

The last free words you’ll hear or read will be:  “The End.”

 

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Published in: on February 21, 2014 at 3:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

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