Over FCC Plans, MSM Finally a Bit Curious re Obama Admin – UPDATED

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!

Image courtesy of shutterstock.com

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Manny

    “MSM Finally a Bit Curious re Obama Admin”

    I’m sure they’ll get over it quickly :-)

  • Steve Billingsley

    It has been determined a long time ago what most of these so called “journalists” are. The Obama administration is just haggling on price.

  • Lee Johnson

    I’ve worked in editing and publishing, including newspapers, blogs and magazines, for nearly 30 years. I can tell you that you could see 20 years ago things were going very wrong. There was bias from the older generation, but they also had a sense that you had to be at least somewhat fair, and you should get the story right. And you should have independence and speak clearly. They leaned liberal, yes, and some very liberal. But there was professionalism.

    Not so now. The lockstep thinking is astonishing, and the bias and double standards beyond the pale, but for about 15 years or so, journalists themselves have been willing to abuse language, to use words and phrases that PR firms use in order to spin the news. “Reproductive rights” and “Ban same-sex marriage” are just two examples.

    What’s particularly galling is that it’s in the past 20-25 years that there was a diversity push — hire a more diverse newsroom. The result was an embarrassing lack of diversity in thought. One reason is that elite journalists often came out of the same schools. And that’s not always good.

    Journalism used to be an anti-BS profession, but it’s not one you needed to go to college for. You could learn it on the job and through wide reading and life experience. Those folks knew the neighborhoods, knew their way around a police station, or a sewerage board meeting … think Ezra Klein ever covered a school board meeting? Yet he and others like him knew it all by age 19 and haven’t changed since.

    I believe, ultimately, it’s a spiritual delusion, though. Journalists who don’t believe leave themselves open to spiritual manipulation. We struggle not against flesh and blood …

  • http://www.agoyandhisblog.com/ AGoyAndHisBlog

    “…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.”

    Hey… if one Standard is good, a Double Standard must be even better, right??

    Amercian journalists defined themselves years ago, with their relentless attack on Bush, based on the serial lies of one Joseph C. Wilson IV.

    http://wapo.st/Iug6tB

  • ConstantineX1

    The good news: The Establishment Media is in decline, has a lot less power than it used to, and IS doomed to eventual extinction.

    The bad news: The Media that is replacing it is still in it’s infancy and won’t be dominant for at least a generation more.

  • Babylonandon

    And they’ll be applauding the Presidents boldness when long columns of body-armored, black uniformed, masked DHS SWAT teams are marching thru the streets of DC with machine guns at port-arms followed by a train of black MRAPS with their white lettering … passing in parade before our leader standing on the Capitol Steps … smiling.

  • Brian

    http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/03/28/did-vice-president-joe-biden-really-lock-a-reporter-in-a-closet/

    Don’t forget that Joe Biden while VP locked a journalist in a closet for several hours so he couldn’t see what was going on at a fundraiser.

    Truth be told, in retrospect the journalist may have locked himself in the closet to protect Biden.

    Above is Time Magazine making excuses for Biden’s staff’s behavior which was wrong and won’t happen again but Time says was no biggie. They gave him food and water. Tools.

  • newguy40

    One of your best articles. And, I’ve been reading your writing since you used to post your recorded rosaries on your old web site….

    I think you’ve nailed it. The MSM surrendered their freedoms. They’ve also helped to surrender ours too.

    “You can pray freely. But just so God alone can hear.
    –Russian poet Tanya Khodkevich who was sentenced to ten years by the Soviets for writing this.

    “A Saint keeps watch over his country and obtains it’s salvation. His prayers and virtues are more powerful than all the armies of the world.” –St Peter Julian Eymard.

  • Larry Brasfield

    The Democrat-promoting press is not the country’s biggest problem, but a symptom of it. The biggest problem is a populace which is content with the idealogical press you lament, which is more interested in having their favored ideas confirmed and being entertained than in being informed of facts which work against the MSM/DNC agenda. Without the support of the lulled populace, the present MSM would fade into obscurity and the political scene would be much different.

  • MrAnonMouse

    we are doomed

  • aquarias2

    hmmm…as for Kurtz…wouldn’t trust that guy as far as i could throw him..like Scalia insinuated…”where the hell you been the last 7 years Howie…???”

  • Unsooper

    Thank you Elizabeth. I have two thoughts: First, in 2003 I wrote my first ever angry note to a journalist. I had just had coffee at a local coffee shop when behind me the local editor of the ‘Free Weekly” (national chain) underground paper struck up a conversation with a man, who as it turned out, was the Opinion page editor of the local Daily paper. I listened in as they described how each paper was using ‘an angle’ to ‘really sink Bush’. At that point I turned around, got up and moved across the room. The local daily editor realized I had overheard and literally scowled at me from across the room for over an hour. I mean in a menacing way. Shortly after I read a supposed straight news piece by a WaPo reporter that was so incredibly slanted, full of hate for Conservatives and empty of real content that I was actually stunned it was published. It in essence called for the outlawing of the Republican Party in America. I don’t recall exactly what I said but I wrote an email saying that someday soon she would realize that by completely giving up any credibility or personal integrity someday she would have a government minder and would be told directly what to write and furthermore she may welcome their protection. That was only 10-11 years ago.
    The second thing I wanted to say is that I have a relative who is a publisher of a Left-leaning magazine. He feels that those that have ‘explored’ socialism and communism are far smarter than those on the Right and dismisses all thought from that direction completely. To be clear, he firmly believes that Leftist thinkers are intelligent whereas others are inferior mentally and actively censors his publication that way. I wonder what he would do with a ‘minder’?

  • cormac_mcroadie

    It used to be reporters were left-wing, but patriotic. Then they were just left wing, highlighting stories that tended to advance a leftist agenda. Now they’re all-in on specific candidates, for or against. This is the progressive corruption of the Progressive Press.

  • Rob Crawford

    “You can pray freely. But just so God alone can hear.”

    Seems to me that’s exactly what the modern American left means by “freedom of worship” while opposing the liberty to live by your beliefs.

  • Matt

    Good points. I think the other thing to remember is the mainstream media- from the alphabet news channels to CNN to msnbc to most newspapers see themselves as being on the same side as Obama and his administration. They don’t foresee an Obama representative in their newsroom as really changing anything, since they’re essentially a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party and this administration. What the MsM is salivating about is the Obama regime sticking a representative in the Fox newsroom and in Limbaugh’s EIB studios and maybe sitting next to Hannity, thus limiting what can be said in opposition to the narrative and taking those successful conservative outlets down a peg. Like liberal consider their fellow conservative Americans to be the enemy, so too does the MsM consider conservative media the enemy despite the fact that any fate that could befall the Fox newsroom could also befall CNn the first time CNN reports something in contrast to “the narrative” or that makes the Obama regime look bad. Shortsightedness is one if the biggest liberal weaknesses.

  • Malcolm_Kirkpatrick

    Big media corporations will welcome government oversight. With IRS and FEC help, Democrats may calculate a reasonable chance to keep control of the Executive branch in 2016. The FCC will hobble the competition (Fox, talk radio) and restore the comfortable world of State-worshipful croadcasting. It’s called “regulatory capture”.

  • Jeremy Barwood

    “We might as well just put down the mics and turn out the lights, because it’s over.”

    If that isn’t a mic dropping line, I don’t know what is. This article nails it.

  • iconoclast

    Weren’t there commissars at Pravda and Izvestia (sp?) during the reign of the USSR? Rather like political officers in the military they were to ensure correct thinking by all “journalists”.

  • londondave

    They’re also thinking… IT WON’T AFFECT THEM!
    I doubt the big Democrat donors who run the newsrooms at ABC, CBS, NBC, et al are worrying that the FCC is going to be asking them why they don’t represent conservative views in their news coverage.
    Let’s talk about a newsroom that “looks like America”.
    Guess what, about 80% of Americans claim allegiance to the Christian faith of varying degrees of practise.
    You think 80% of reporters are “Christian”. YOu think the FCC will be concerned about that?

  • SarahKentucky

    Can’t believe this is happening in the U.S.

  • SarahKentucky

    “any fate that could befall the Fox newsroom could also befall CNn”

    Could and will!

  • obocaj

    Anyone still paying for (and presumably watching) TV or cable is helping to fund government sponsored lies and deceit.

    The National Ritalin Tube (TV) is the logical extension of our abysmally failed public education system. So what if some government dupe sits in the corner and picks her nose all day watching the media whores at work? It won’t change a thing. Did you think they were ever going to report the truth anyway, even without some government prole in the corner? Really? How utterly naieve.
    Time to get a life, America. In fact it’s way passed that time. Time to realize we’ve been collectively and cooperatively and continually lied to by both big media and big government.
    Unplug from the NRT and quit funding the government indoctrination of your children.
    “Time to beat those plowshares back into swords.” –R.A. Heinlein

  • halfacarafe

    If we can just get Matt Bevin elected, or someone, all this will stop. Because Marco Cruz Lee Ryan are all over this problem. And if we keep them all in DC they promise not to raise our taxes ever again and bring a quick end to this. Also Daryl Issa is probably going to investigate this. So we got that. And hey did you see Michelle on the Tonight Show. She is so beautiful and classy, Knucklehead.

  • Kungfoochimp

    Note that the FCC has claimed it will no longer survey media outlets with respect to content/editorial choices. What remains? The racial/ethnic aspect of the survey.

    Note the survey firm – Social Solutions, Intl. – states on their website that they are, “dedicated to the creation of positive change for underserved populations.” Furthermore, they have zero experience in media/content studies. So why were they selected?

    Remember back to 2008….Mark Lloyd was Obama’s “Diversity Czar” appointee at FCC. As well as being an outspoken fan of Hugo Chavez, he is also quoted as saying that Whites needed to “step down” and give their power to minorities.
    Lloyd is now the Director of the “Media Policy Initiative” at the leftist New America Foundation.

    On May 6, 2013 he published “Cleaning Up the Airwaves” (http://prospect.org/article/cleaning-airwaves)

    In it he rails on the FCC for not promoting “minority ownership” of media outlets. That’s what I believe this study is about. Hire a radical leftist firm who will undoubtably call for ownership changes because minority “critical information needs” are not being met.

  • TerryC

    I had a correspondence, online, with a Catholic who is a supporter of the Democratic party. Though personally pro-life, this person uses the dodge of claiming because democrats support programs which address poverty (his words, not mine) that they reduce abortion, which is a pro-life position (again his words not mine, and not supported by the facts.)
    I pointed out that while I could not agree with the every policy of every Republican in office and agreed that some might indeed be engaged in unconstitutional or even illegal and immoral behavior that as a party their policies are enshrined in their party platform. I then went on to say that enshrined in the democratic party platform are support for not one, not two, but three intrinsically evil or disordered activities.
    I then asked him how any self-declared orthodox Catholic could support the Democratic party and its candidates under any circumstances. The answer was resounding silence.

  • John Morris

    Sorry to be such a downer, but I think you are making a basic mistake. You presume we still have a ‘press.’ Assume for a moment that we don’t, that the Long March has long since passed through and left only a Party PR shop behind; does this explain observed reality better or worse than the popular view?

    PR shops only mention problems with their client’s products when control lapses and require damage control. Of course since the Party currently controls the ‘narrative’ this is only rarely needed.

    If the the ‘MSM’, the Academy and the Democratic Party are all assumed to all be one entity with a single unified org chart it isn’t surprising they aren’t objecting. The political officers won’t make any difference to their own work product but will solve a problem; the recent attempts of an actual press to redevelop.

  • http://pennyrobinsonfanclub.net/ PennyRobinsonFanClub

    So . . . if we like the TV station we have now, can we keep it?

    /ObamaNews, from the same people who brought you 404Care.

  • http://pennyrobinsonfanclub.net/ PennyRobinsonFanClub

    So . . . if we like our news channel, will we be allowed to keep it?

    /Great. ObamaNews, from the same team that brought you 404Care.

  • Stosh

    You stated “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 if we’re losing freedom of the press, would freedom of religion be far behind?

  • KyPerson

    It’s not just the media. It’s education, libraries, entertainment and more. I look through many selection aids for books for the university library where I work. It’s hard – very hard to find good books with a conservative point. I buy as many as I can, but they are far outnumbered by books authored by those with a progressive/authoritarian view.


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