Surprise! GOP Fights FCC on Behalf of MSM Freedoms – UPDATED

It’s true: if I only got my news from the Mainstream Media, and did not stop in at Instapundit’s place every single day, I’d never know what was going on. My day is just too busy to read everything, even though I subscribe to many news sites. Glenn Reynold’s editorial eye and pithy — often hilarious — commentary are invaluable to me.

Take this story, for instance. I had no idea that the Obama Administration was going all “Let’s Create Pravda” on news outlets. Somehow, the major networks weren’t talking about it. But there was this column that ran last Monday in the WSJ: The FCC Wades Into the Newsroom; Why is the agency studying ‘perceived station bias’ and asking about coverage choices?

. . .everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.

Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission, where I am a commissioner, does not agree. 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.”

You read that right. A commissioner at the FCC went to the oped pages of the WSJ about this — something of a whistleblower, Ajit Pai is — yet this story didn’t open any of the news shows I watched yesterday.

Perhaps the story didn’t get attention because people thought, “well, that’s such a ridiculously unconstitutional overreach that even our ‘constitutional scholar president’ would never be allowed to go there.” And perhaps that is true.

But shouldn’t it have been a story — a big story — that his administration even considered it?

I think so. But the same press that carried Obama into the White House on its shoulders (twice, while asking nary a question) seems to have developed a case of beaten-wife syndrome. The administration disrespects them, considers charging them with espionage for doing their jobs, spies on their peeps, and they barely manage an objection through their pleading eyes or trembling lips.

Fortunately, the FCC is now backing off. The headline at AdWeek: FCC Backs Off Study of Newsroom Editorial Practices; GOP said study violated freedom of the press

The Federal Communications Commission is quietly changing course on a controversial study after parts of the methodology were roundly criticized by GOP lawmakers and commissioner Ajit Pai for encroaching into editorial decisions and content at TV stations. . .Regardless of the study’s intent, it’s hard to fathom why the FCC sent its minions into newsrooms of the stations it licenses and ask questions about how stations exercise their First Amendment right.

So, the FCC, busted by an op-ed and obliged to respond to a GOP letter-of-inquiry dated…January 10, 2014…is “closely reviewing the proposed research design to determine if an alternative approach is merited.”

This has been a story for over a month, with no blaring headlines, and the FCC — who cannot have helped noticing the silence — will now go back to the drawing board, to design a more discreet means of bringing the administration’s brand of hope and change in the newsroom.

How interesting. And the GOP — despised and actively worked against by many in the heavily-Democrat-voting mainstream media — is responsible for at least slowing down the TASSing of our news outlets, because they pointed to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Well, good for them. They have to know that it will matter not even a scintilla to the press that the GOP has, for a time, saved their proverbial bacon, and yet they’ve gone ahead and done the right thing, anyway. Because it is absolutely the right thing to do, whether or not the GOP gets so much as a curt nod of thanks from the mainstream press.

Seems to me the only way to get the press to do its job, anymore, is to elect Republicans, because you can bet that if a Republican administration had thought of invading newsrooms, you’d have heard about it. There would be justifiably outraged cries of “constitution shredding” and “Orwellian oversight” and (although Nancy Pelosi won’t believe it) political cartoons with brownshirts and men with tiny mustaches.

Too bad the Republicans are so messed up, creating and destroying new “saviors” every six weeks or so in search of the elusive re-incarnation of Ronald Reagan — a man who, when he was president, was often castigated by the right for not being pure enough. As we gear up for an overlong series of “Everything Hillary!”, the only GOPer who seemed capable of mounting a challenge against her was Chris Christie — that Planned-Parenthood-defunding-bully — but he’s been duly taken out by the press with an assist from the Tea Party, and various GOPers he managed to piss off. So it goes.

The press needs a GOP administration in order to save them from themselves, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing one any time soon. Not with mainstream media control over the national conversation, and the GOP/Tea Party World O’Hate and Recrimination Traveling Schism.

You know what else you’re not reading much about? The dry run attack against power transformers, and ultimately the grid. This guy admits to having heard nothing of it, before reading bad old Peggy Noonan’s piece last week. And you know, that big data base of information which, as Glenn Reynolds notes, could be used so artfully to break opposition.

You’re also not reading about that Little Sisters vs the Admin story? Why, that’s in the process of being spun and rewoven by the industrious and loyal wives. If they get it just right, he’ll love them again!

Nobody’s talking much about those things. Not the press, not even the GOP who argued for their sakes.

I’ve said it many times, and it’s worth saying again:

. . .we no longer need wonder why the mainstream media seems unconcerned about possible attacks on our first amendment rights to freedom of religion and the exercise thereof. They have already cheerfully, willfully surrendered the freedom of the press to the altar of the preferred narrative. People willing to dissolve their own freedoms so cheaply have no interest in anyone else’s freedom, either.

The biggest problem in our nation is not the Democrats, or the Republicans; it is not the Obama Administration, just as it wasn’t the Bush Administration, and it won’t be the Clinton or Warren Administrations. Our biggest problem is that the press has voluntarily surrendered its freedoms for the sake of idols and ideologies.

And they won’t have the clumsy GOP around much longer, to guard their weak flanks, as they did, this time.

Thank God for alternate media outlets — political, religious, and otherwise — for as long as they last.

Jonathan Turley is very concerned
about the enabling of the ever-expanding powers of the president:

I am astonished by the degree of passivity in Congress, particularly by Democrats. You know, I first came to Congress when I was a young page and there were people that fiercely believed in the institution. It didn’t matter what party held the White House. But what we’re seeing now is the usurpation of authority that’s unprecedented in this country.

I can’t help but wonder how much the “unprecedented” data base has to do with that.

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About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Gail Finke

    AMEN to everything, Elizabeth. The power grid story has me scared stiff. An obvious coordinated attack by people who knew what they were doin g– they had to get into an underground bunker to do it! — any the only reason we know about it was that whistleblower who is concerned that no one, anywhere, is doing anything. What has happened to our government? The press is indeed cheering them on, and a lot of people like it that way because they are happy their enemies (they are the ones who have declared them to be enemies) are being crushed under their feet to usher in the brave new world of whatever-you-want-to-do-as-long-as-it’s-liberal… It’s frightening. I used to be a liberal and the reason I’m not anymore is that I eventually noticed the totalitarian aspects of it crushing other people who I did not assume were evil monsters because of their existence. And so I started listening to the people being crushed to see if maybe they were evil after all. But they not only weren’t evil — they were also right.

  • Manny

    I whole heartedly agree with Turley. There is too much partisan bickering and not enough bickering between the branches. Congress should jealously guard its power regardless if the President is from the same party.

  • Nonameworks

    Countdown on Ajit Pai’s IRS audit has started.

  • higgins1990

    “Perhaps the story didn’t get attention because …”

    ABC/CBS/NBC/CNN understood that this would only affect FOX.

  • ronwf

    “.we no longer need wonder why the mainstream media seems unconcerned about possible attacks on our first amendment rights to freedom of religion and the exercise thereof.”

    Why would atheists care about freedom of religion? Seriously. Take a look at the statistics of how many “journalists” are believers.

  • Bill Gryan

    Hard to decide who is creepier: the President, or the media who intentionally ignores stories like this. It seems that we have a state-controlled press, but one that doesn’t even need to be told what to do.

    WaPo and NYT were happy to leak state secrets during the Bush administration. Even though it threatened national security, it was largely celebrated in the media as a triumph of free press. It’s the duty of the press to keep the government accountable to the citizens, after all. But here we are, just a few years later, and the MSM seems happy to see the government attempting to stifle the press, evident by their lack of reporting.

  • Selling us out again

    Chris Christie – little difference from Hillary there. It will make McCain’s run look successful.

  • Neo

    You can tell, by who didn’t respond to the FCC story, who would not have been affected the the FCC adventure into unconstitutionality.

  • davod

    You should not worry about the power station attack because the administration has already stated that there is no evidence of terrorism.

  • timmaguire

    I also disagree with Ms. Scalia on that odd digression. Christie never had a snowball’s chance of winning a general election. He may have been fun on YouTube years ago, but he’s not much of a Republican. Opposed to guns, opposed to fracking, happy to torpedo his old friend Mitt for the chance to glad-hand with the president the week before elections. Bloomberg told the president he had more important things to do than pose for pictures, not so the New Jersey governor, slobbering all over himself in his eagerness to sing Obama’s (mostly undeserved, it’s worth noting) praises.

    It takes a stilted view of the current state of politics to make bad guys out of the Tea Party for opposing Christie (assuming they do–I notice no link to go with that attack).

  • derf

    ” They have already cheerfully, willfully surrendered the freedom of the press to the altar of the preferred narrative”

    Truer words have not been spoken…

  • Augustine

    At least the Russians could see through the two official news outlets of the USSR, for, as the saying went, they knew that there was as no news in the Pravda (i.e., “truth”) nor truth in the Izvestia (i.e., “news”).

  • Dan13

    “Perhaps the story didn’t get attention because people thought, “well, that’s such a ridiculously unconstitutional overreach that even our ‘constitutional scholar president’ would never be allowed to go there.” And perhaps that is true.”

    Broadcast television channels operate under a different analysis. Broadcast TV channels are a limited commodity and stations operate under license from the government. So, the FCC can, to a certain extent, regulate speech for political balance. This does not apply to cable stations like Fox News and non-TV media like newspapers. This is also why the FCC is able to fine broadcast television and radio stations for risque content (e.g., nudity, profanity).

  • Beaux Weevil

    Regarding the last snippet, Turley is right. In the past many if not most Congressional representatives believed in the institution, and fiercely guarded its power and its role. Those are a shrinking number now. I think most of them are all too happy to cede the power and the tough decision making to the executive and the bureaucracy. As long as they maintain the perquisites of their offices they are quite content to put onthe occasional little show for their constituent base. Maybe meet a Fox reporterette in the Rotunda on the way to the gym or to meet with a deep pocketed crony over a $400 wagyu and $1200 bottle of wine.

  • john smith

    Was it a youtube video? If you like your power grid you can keep your power grid. What difference, at this point, does it make?

  • Callawyn

    “Surprise” There’s NO surprise here. The R’s have always been the one’s standing up for our Civil Rights, with the D’s always trying to abolish them.

  • Red_Right_Returning

    You can tell who THOUGHT they wouldn’t have been affected. Eventually the guns are turned on the faithful who deviate slightly. “First they came for Rush Limbaugh and I was silent, because I was not a right-wing talker….”

  • Gail Finke

    My husband’s theory is that most of the media ignored this because it was meant as an attack against Fox. Don’t know if I agree but an interesting theory…

  • Frank McManus

    Your links to the story about the FCC all go to opinion pieces — none go to a story that actually attempts to be objective. So I’m unable to determine what exactly the FCC thought it was doing, and why it thought it was justified. I also don’t see any evidence this was cooked up by the White House for the purposes you allege.

    In addition, your Pravda/TASS analogy is vague and frankly ridiculous, as ridiculous as the brownshirt analogy you claim the media would be using if the president were Republican. First you seem to be saying Obama is using the FCC to coerce the media into becoming an administration mouthpiece — presumably you think they’ll be sending John Stossel to the gulag if he won’t cooperate — but then you say the media have already adopted that role without coercion. So which is it?

    A stronger factual basis and less overwrought rhetoric would be welcome here. More light, less heat.

  • Tapestrygarden

    Another spot on column. As someone who (at the time a liberal Democrat) watched the media investigate Richared Nixon to the end of the earth over what seems like quite a silly event, I am stunned at the way the media is uninterested in reporting ANYTHING that is opposed to their preconceived notion of “the way things ought to be….” I believe the complicit media elected Obama the first time and hid the many scandals, lies and constitutional over reaching that allowed the ignorant to vote again for this incredibly incompetent and corrupt politician. I recoiled in horror when I first learned of Obama’s defense of allowing babies born alive after botched abortions to be ‘exposed’ in the tradition of ancient Sparta. You aren’t supposed to get between a woman and her doctor was his lame excuse for allowing infanticide. From that day on I have raged against the machine that ignored the many lies, the bizarre and corrupt associations with marginal characters. Yet the media sits idly by allowing lie after lie after lie to stand. They used to protect free speech, now they prevent it. We need to ignore the MSM until they disappear into the dustbin of history.

  • Tapestrygarden

    Nice run down an irrelevant rabbit trail but Chris Christie is not the issue. The issue is the media, complicit in allowing Obama to be elected, to lie and to attempt to destroy our country. We have to quit the circular firing squad. Arguing about Christie is pointless. We need to stand together and get the media to do their job.

  • Engineer 100

    NPR, of all folks, should be concerned about the phrase “perceived station bias.”