It’s only taken seven years, but a member of the mainstream media is finally asking “what are they thinking?”
That would be the formerly “respectable” Howard Kurtz, the Columbia J-school grad who wrote for the Washington Post and worked for CNN and the Daily Beast, before he fell from grace and landed at Fox News, where he writes:
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?
Keep in mind that the commission has the power to renew or reject broadcast television licenses. During Watergate, Richard Nixon’s FCC challenged two TV licenses of stations owned by the Washington Post. So mere information gathering can become a little more serious, given that enormous clout.
Well, read the whole thing, because it’s worth it (and read FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai’s rather heroic bit of whistleblowing on the matter, dated February 10, and finally getting some attention beyond the blogs) but before you go, allow me to answer Kurtz’ opening query:
“What are they thinking?” Mr. Kurtz, it’s pretty obvious; they’re thinking no one in the mainstream press has asked them a difficult or challenging question in 7 years, so why would they start now.
- They’re thinking an obsequious press that couldn’t be bothered to sustain outrage over intrusions into its own phone and internet records won’t have a problem with the government parking itself into the newsroom.
- They’re thinking that if the mainstream press could forgive them for considering espionage charges against a member of the press — for doing what reporters are supposed to do — and then re-commence their habitual boot-licking, there is no real risk of media folk suddenly calling out a “red line”, or even being able to identify one.
- They’re figuring that with this president, the mainstream media has no idea what “a bridge too far” might mean. Nor, “abuse of power”; nor “cover-up”; nor “mendacity”, “incompetence”, “ineptitude” or “constitutional illiteracy.”
- They know that half the people in the newsroom are either married to (or social buddies with) influential members of this government, and that everyone is all comfy and nicely settled in for the revolution.
- They know that the press willfully surrendered its own freedoms some time ago, in the interests of ideology, and so they really won’t mind a little editorial supervision from the masters:
. . .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.
- They know that if they like their newsroom, they can keep their newsroom, once it has been correctly updated. A Mad Man might sell the scheme as Prexy-Clean. Journalism “new and improved with powerful cleansing agents!”
I hope that helps, Mr. Kurtz.
And you are correct, by the way, when you write “if George W. Bush’s FCC had tried this, it would be a front-page story.” I expressed a similar sentiment in relation to this story, back on February 13, thanks to Instapundit.
But we have seen repeatedly that what was objectionable under a president with an R next to his name is barely worth a sigh when he or she carries a D. T’was ever thus.
Oh, you thought the press was serious when it ranted about “constitution shredding” and “the fierce urgency of now?”
Well, this is how career trajectories are ended, when one’s bright naivete cannot come to appreciate “nuance.”
Some may disagree, but I will dare to repeat myself, because I think I am right: 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 future Clinton or Warren Administrations. Our biggest problem is that the press has voluntarily surrendered its freedoms for the sake of idols and ideologies..
Because this is true, our government is either factionalized, fictionalized and bombarded with daily media outrage and indignation, or it is given an utterly free pass, with no accountability required. Either way, it is a process of illusion, which gives assist to the necessary distraction, and that’s all.
I didn’t want to write about this today. The truth is, I don’t even want to write about politics, anymore, because it’s all distraction and illusion and theater. I’d be happy to write about prayer and scripture, and nothing else, for the rest of my life, and maybe that’s what I’ll be doing, soon enough. But I am passionate about journalism, passionate about the need for a free press, and so I had to write, today. Without a curious press interested in protecting its own freedoms, there is no there, there. We might as well just put down the mics and turn out the lights, because it’s over.
UPDATE: Ace O’ Spades HQ has linked. Thank you!