FCC’s Muzzling the Media is Stopped for a While, At least
When Government Agents Want a Look at Editors, Reporters
By Harry M. Covert
Consider for a moment if local jurisdictions decided to join the federal government to send agents, inspectors or political operatives into newsrooms of all newspapers, broadcasting houses and every online blog outlet.
“Can’t happen,” most journalistic professionals would probably be spouting and shouting.
Remember the time not so long ago when the idea of same-sex marriages was deemed impossible? Unthinkable? Reprobate? And other negative adjectives?
Remember the time not so long ago when pot-smoking was illegal and deleterious to society?
Remember the times not so long ago when religious liberty was considered sacrosanct; that churches were pillars of every community; and prayer encouraged for everyone?
Remember the times not so long ago when the Pledge of Allegiance was repeated in every school, public and private, and no one objected?
So what’s the point here?
It appears few people, including the vast array of reporters, writers, newspaper, magazine and broadcasting owners, and other wags expressed any concern that the Federal Communication Commission, at the urging of the current national regime, was planning to send agents to broadcasting venues.
Why the FCC? Well, the FCC can’t jump into the printed news rooms, yet, but can exert its authority over those using the public airwaves — radio and television stations, cable networks, and, yes, users of the internet. The latter includes the internet giants and those individuals and institutions that disseminate news of all sorts.
No way would or could that happen to newspapers? Hog wash and don’t think for one second it can’t happen.
On every level of government, the professionals, the bureaucrats and the electeds, have long worked at keeping the public ears blocked from what they do. Governments only want taxpayers and “regular” citizens to hear what they designate as good stuff. Don’t be blindsided. This is the game.
Reporters do have a difficult time finding facts and figures, unless they are in the best interests of government. Reporters are more often than not considered pariahs to government and only to be “used.” Scandals are not just the imaginations of reporters.
One of the best jobs in government today is public information officer. PIO’s are well schooled and remunerated highly and know how to avoid answering any inquiring nosey news people; how to keep things out of the public domain. Listen to the press secretaries.
News organizations certainly differ in interpretation of the news. Listeners, viewers and readers have a right to choose favorites and how and when events are slanted or not slanted. That’s freedom of the press. Thankfully, by and large, censorship is still a bad word. That’s not always been the case.
Along the same avenue censorship of any form must be out of the question for any publication. Don’t buy those publications that are offensive to any individual taste. Don’t listen or watch those to whom personal beliefs find disagreeable.
Friday Afternoons and the News Dodges
In case the latest report out of Washington escaped notice, the FCC recently decided to put a hold on any “study” of “perceived station bias.” This is a sneaky way for the government, though its agency, to creep into the news environment and cause great fear and panic. Note, too, the FCC took this delaying tactic on a late Friday afternoon hoping to miss any reporting, at least on a broad scale.
It’s proven. Government’s best way to avoid reporting unpleasant news is on Fridays and late. The pros want to get away too for a weekend.
Isn’t that “hold” nice and soothing for the public? If such activity is resumed, it will infect and effect everybody in a country built on free speech, guaranteed. At present the current administration of “progressives” could benefit. When another crop of conservatives or socialists or tea baggers or what-have-yous find themselves in charge, obviously they would find the “creep intos” a thrill.
Wouldn’t be long before the threat of federal, state and local prosecutors finding some creative ways to finally jail reporters, writers, editors, producers and bloggers they don’t like for what’s “in their hearts.” They have been looking.
Dictionary writers and publishers would be subject to deleting words.
Americans should never forget the dirty work of the House Un-American Activities Committee and its blacklisting of writers, authors, movie makers and others.
Governments should not be telling news organizations, or pressuring them, how to cover certain subjects.
The first test of this FCC plan was to begin in a few months in South Carolina. The idea is reprehensible. How long will the “hold” remain is not known. Hopefully the Supreme Court would put the kibosh on this. That would take a long time.
Imagine any local governments pursuing such conduct? Yes. Disagreeing is one thing but freedom of the press and free speech is inviolate. There’s a something called trust and sometimes the latter is on mighty thin ground.
Copyright ©2014 Harry M. Covert