The FCC is launching an initiative to question the priorities and decisions of newsrooms and potentially crack down on “perceived station bias,” according to one of the agency’s commissioners.
In an op-ed piece for The Wall Street Journal, Ajit Pai says the Federal Communications Commission plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run, as part of a “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” reminiscent, he says, of the now-defunct controversial Fairness Doctrine.
“The FCC says the study is merely an objective fact-finding mission. The results will inform a report that the FCC must submit to Congress every three years on eliminating barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the communications industry,” Pai writes.
“This claim is peculiar. How can the news judgments made by editors and station managers impede small businesses from entering the broadcast industry? And why does the [Critical Information Needs] study include newspapers when the FCC has no authority to regulate print media?”
Pai argues that the government “has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories,” and says it’s a “dangerous” first step toward “newsroom policing.”
House Republicans raised similar concerns in December about the agency’s study, claiming it was an attempt to impose “Fairness Doctrine 2.0,” The Hill reported.
“Given the widespread calls for the commission to respect the First Amendment and stay out of the editorial decisions of reporters and broadcasters, we were shocked to see that the FCC is putting itself back in the business of attempting to control the political speech of journalists,” the lawmakers wrote at the time in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
“It is wrong, it is unconstitutional, and we urge you to put a stop to this most recent attempt to engage the FCC as the ‘news police.'”
The Fairness Doctrine introduced in 1949 required radio and TV stations to air opposing views on controversial issues. It led to lawsuits throughout the 1960s and 1970s arguing that the rules infringed on the freedom of press. The FCC abandoned the regulation in 1987 after admitting it did not serve the public interest.
An FCC official said Tuesday, however, that the agency may rework the study to address the concerns that have been raised.
“The commission has no intention of interfering in the coverage and editorial choices that journalists make,” the official told the National Journal. “We’re closely reviewing the proposed research design to determine if an alternative approach is merited.”
It could not be any clearer that this effort is taking place under O’s instructions. For years it has been obvious how he feels about the media, so it’s only natural that he would seek to edit what’s being reported, beyond the scripted interviews and briefings.
This is the broadest and most blatant attack on our Constitutional rights that’s come to light in a long time.
Allen West had this to say about it:
“The federal government has absolutely no business determining what stories should and should not be run, what is critical for the American public and what is not, whether it perceives a bias, and whose interests are or are not being served by the free press. But there’s no retribution when Obama summons liberal media personalities to the White House who then parrot his talking points. This is Orwellian beyond belief! In this universe of deceit, truth will indeed be a revolutionary act.”
The FCC’s Mr. Pai says this is an objective fact finding mission, but it is neither objective nor are they in search of facts. That is merely the cover story to get them in the door.
In the WSJ piece Pai says:
“A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring. The purpose of the CIN 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.”
That is butt-deep bullshit and we all know it. We must put a stop to this. Period.
This one really pegged the meter.
(h/t to Mrs. AL)