09.30.2009 0

The Fairness Police

  • On: 10/08/2009 09:39:03
  • In: First Amendment
  • By Howard Rich

    Imagine a world in which government-owned newspapers delivered sanitized, pro-bureaucratic talking points approved by government censors for “fairness.” Now, imagine a world in which talk radio and the new media – two outlets that Americans have been turning to in record numbers to escape the barrage of sanitized, pro-bureaucratic “news” – were also under Big Brother’s “regulatory” thumb.

    Now, imagine a world in which all of these outlets faced fines and the threat of being shut down if they failed to subscribe to the government’s definition of “balanced” coverage.

    Does that sound like America?

    Or does it sound more like a fundamentalist Islamic republic? A former Soviet satellite? Or a third-world nation run by a repressive military junta?

    Citizens at every point along this nation’s political spectrum should be horrified by such a scenario – where the information they receive is essentially owned by the government. Accordingly, they should be deeply concerned that supporters of government-run media are now assuming key positions at the Federal Communications Commission and other agencies.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (emphasis added).

    That’s America’s First – and foremost – Amendment. Pretty cut and dried, isn’t it? In fact, within those forty-five words lies the fundamental root of all American liberties – the guarantee that our beliefs, our speech and our Fourth Estate are expressly safeguarded from governmental control and interference.

    Apparently they are not safeguarded enough, though.

    In fact, of all the overtly socialist notions currently making the rounds in Washington D.C., one of the most diabolical and anti-democratic is an under-the-radar push by the administration of President Barack Obama to dramatically expand government control over the free flow of information.

    Leading this movement is Federal Communications Commission “diversity czar” Mark Lloyd and several current and former members of an oxymoronically-dubbed organization known as “Free Press.” Obsessed with the notion of removing America’s capitalist system “brick by brick” and creating a socialist nation, Lloyd and his “Free Press” allies view the leveling of the current media apparatus in America as a critical step in that process.

    In fact, they have supported Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez in his efforts to limit freedom of the press in that country.

    “Free Press” advocates aren’t even bothering to hide their ideological endgame, either. In an August 2009 interview with The Socialist Project, “Free Press” leader Robert McChesney acknowledges that the group aims to bring about a “marked shift to the political left.”

    In addition to Lloyd, former “Free Press” spokeswoman Jen Howard currently serves as the spokeswoman for new FCC commissioner Julius Genachowski. Also, former Obama “Green Jobs Czar” Van Jones – who was forced to resign his post last month after his communist past was exposed – is a “Free Press” board member.

    Beyond just appointing representatives of these radical, anti-democratic groups to critical positions in government, Obama is also beginning to reverse himself on critical policy positions related to the maintenance of a free press.

    For example, Obama originally claimed that he opposed the notion of a media bailout – which would dramatically expand governmental influence over the Fourth Estate – but he recently said that he was “happy to look at” a proposal to “rescue” U.S. newspapers.

    Also, in light of his appointment of individuals who favor government regulation of radio and new media content, there is also legitimate concern that Obama and his supporters will attempt to re-impose the failed “Fairness Doctrine,” which gave government the right to fine and censor media outlets that did not present a bureaucratically-established definition of “balanced” coverage.

    Over the last nine months, politicians in Washington have undertaken a systematic assault on the American marketplace. Sadly, it appears they are now turning their fire on the “marketplace of ideas.”

    The author is Chairman of Americans for Limited Government.

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