Saturday, February 22, 2014

Press Happily Surrender their Freedoms to Obama

Even though the executive branch of the federal government is currently occupied by the most hostile, anti-Second Amendment administration in my lifetime, the last few years have seen Second Amendment advocates reclaim ground from those who would deprive them of their freedoms. With a few exceptions, gun owners have been winning in legislatures and courts.

Meanwhile, even though the press placed the man of their dreams in the White House, they have watched their First Amendment freedoms erode.

According to Reporters without Borders, an international organization dedicated to preserving and extending freedom of the press, the United State dropped another 13 places last year and now ranks only 47th in press freedom worldwide.

The news media have themselves to blame. While Second Amendment advocates have fought relentlessly for their cause, the news media have not. When James Rosen of Fox News was named a co-conspirator by Attorney General Eric Holder for purposes of tapping his phones, there was little outcry. It was after all, Fox News. And Fox News occupies the wrong region of the ideological spectrum. Rosen got what was coming to him.

The mainstream news media have also appeared quite comfortable with attempts to place restrictions on alternative media. Two decades ago, when Democrats tried to re-impose the ironically misnamed “Fairness Doctrine” on conservative talk radio, the leftist media raised no objection.

As governments attempted to restrict the freedoms of alternative media, such as bloggers, the mainstream media were onboard. US Senator Dianne Feinstein recently authored a law that would limit First Amendment freedoms to those whom the government deems legitimate journalists. This would leave bloggers and other non-traditional news sources vulnerable to lawsuits and government persecution.

If there was any outcry from the mainstream news media against these restrictions upon freedom of the press, it was too faint for my ears to detect.

Obama’s Federal Communications Commission recently granted itself oversight authority over newsroom editorial decisions. The FCC planned what it euphemistically called a “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs” or CIN. It was, in fact, government intimidation.

Aside from the Wall Street Journal, the mainstream news media protests about Big Brother looking over their shoulders were drowned out by chirping crickets. According to the Journal, the CIN planned “to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.”

“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.’”

So far as I can determine, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, the New York Times, The Washington Post, Reuters, the Associated Press and the rest of the mainstream news media were, at the very least, indifferent to the idea of having a left-leaning federal government bullying press organizations. They were confident that the jackboot would press down on the throats of others.

When Congressional Republicans stood up to Obama’s FCC and forced it to back down, the news media showered little or no praise on those who defended their independence from government thuggery.

Was this defense of press freedom coming from the wrong side of the aisle? Or, was the press hoping that Obama’s FCC would intimidate the competition?

With a very few exceptions, the mainstream news media have shown little interest in pursuing the story about the targeted harassment of conservative political action committees by Obama’s IRS. The Justice Department has let it be known that it has found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. That’s hardly surprising since not a single target of the harassment has been interviewed.

If there were no crimes, then why did Lois Lerner, the IRS supervisor who oversaw the harassment, take shelter behind the Fifth Amendment?

These were attacks on the same First Amendment that protects journalists, but the news media seem satisfied with Obama’s declaration that there was “not a smidgeon of corruption” at the IRS.

And so it’s hardly surprising that press freedoms have eroded in the age of Obama. The mainstream news media have been silently complicit in many of the attacks. What they fail to grasp is that such invasions against cannot be reliably aimed at ideological foes. An FCC, IRS or Justice Department capable of serving as a weapon against your competition can just as easily be turned against you.

Here's the latest version of the FCC survey. The only appropriate use is as toilet paper.  

The Washington Post finally weighed in Thursday night. By the way, the original title of this piece was, "Proposed FCC Newsroom Study Sparks Conservative Outcry."


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