A war quietly pursued on many fronts.
Any doubts about the administration’s designs on reducing First Amendment opportunities may no longer exist due to officials’ remarks and government actions including a recent decision by President Barack Obama. The administration’s resolve to tamp down dissent was signaled in a June 28th presidential memorandum that would lead to the end of all free, over-the-air television.
Fortunately for Obama he has various federal agencies, the Democrat-controlled Congress, a judiciary hostile to the Constitution, and a compliant liberal media at his disposal to help him usher in speech controls.
Obama’s disdain of political dissent is well documented. He has differentiated himself from all other modern presidents by publicly calling out by name the handful of journalists that have criticized his presidency. Senior White House staff have served as his Praetorian Guard against media critics.
While presidential name-calling is indeed troublesome, it does not rise to the level of the concern created by the administration’s plans to control the nation’s telecommunications platforms.
Obama’s Harvard Law School classmate and current Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has been directing a multi-pronged effort aimed at increasing government control of news, information and entertainment.
First, is the FCC’s ill-conceived , which is designed to end local television broadcasters’ use of the electromagnetic spectrum (i.e. the radio spectrum) to deliver free, over-the-air television and eventually move the nation’s 1,600 TV stations to subscription-only platforms such as cable. Cable is a much easier to control than 1,600 geographically dispersed television transmitters.
The goal, claims Genachowski, is to make the spectrum available to other wireless platforms such as cellular telephones. The single largest beneficiary of the FCC scheme would likely be Verizon. Unfortunately for Genachowski, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg panned the NBP and found the FCC’s “looming spectrum shortage” claims to not be credible.
“I don’t think the FCC should tinker with this,” Seidenberg the Council on Foreign Relations in April. “I don’t think we’ll have a spectrum shortage the way [the National Broadband Plan] suggests we will.”
To bolster support for its National Broadband Plan, the FCC announced a broadcast engineering panel to examine the technical aspects of its proposal. The June panel convened by the FCC was notable for who the Commission excluded — broadcast engineers. The FCC relented at the last moment after the Society of Broadcast Engineers waged a fierce PR campaign to be added. To exclude broadcast engineers from the panel would have been the functional equivalent of bureaucrats rewriting detailed medical procedures without consulting a single doctor.
In all fairness, convening the engineering panel — even with the technical experts — was a moot point. Days earlier, the FCC inadvertently disclosed a report prepared by staff bureaucrats that had reached conclusions before the engineering panel had met. The after-the-fact panel may have been an attempt to rubber stamp the FCC proposal. However, the FCC’s report was criticized as being flawed on several technical accounts including having omitted key data.
Another point of concern is the FCC’s inquiry. Not only does this effort fall well-outside the agency’s statutory charter but the FCC does not have any of the expertise to properly evaluate the information the agency intends to collect such as company business models, corporate debt levels, newsroom staffing policies, and even print industry operations.
According to an FCC , the project “will produce a report providing a clear, precise assessment of the current media landscape, analyze policy options and, as appropriate, make policy recommendations to the FCC, other government entities, and other parties.”
Former Newsweek reporter Steve Waldman, who is the public face but not the hand behind the study, told a skeptical industry gathering in April that the FCC was merely preparing a report and had no plans to initiate a regulatory rulemaking.
The FCC is not the only government agency inappropriately “studying” journalism. The Federal Trade Commission, also singularly unqualified and without statutory authority, launched its own effort. The FTC’s “Reinvention of Journalism” discusses several proposals to “reinvent” journalism, including some that would drastically alter the media landscape and severely impede a free press.
For example, the FTC offers the possibility of copyrighting “facts or ideas” that would not only severely restrict the press and the public but could also lead to the government releasing “facts” only to politically allied news organizations. The FTC study contemplates various subsidy options, primarily for the newspaper industry. Other FTC proposals include expanding AmeriCorps into journalism and growing the size and scope of the Corporation of Public Broadcasting; in other words, vastly increasing government control of news.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online