Last spring, in the aftermath of revelations that the Obama administration was actively intimidating members of the Associated Press and FOX News, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) worked together on legislation that was meant to “protect” members of the media from government interference and harassment when doing their jobs. Unfortunately, as is usually the case in Washington, this legislation created an indirect and highly undesirable side effect.
As we documented in our piece, Joseph Goebbels would love Lindsey Graham, Senator Graham was having a great deal of trouble figuring out exactly who should receive this protection:
“Who is a journalist is a question we need to ask ourselves,” he said. “Is any blogger out there saying anything—do they deserve First Amendment protection? These are the issues of our times.”
So, while the need for providing special protection for the media may or may not be necessary—I’m pretty sure the Bill of Rights already addresses this issue—Graham felt it was necessary for the government to decide who is, or isn’t, a member of the media. Or, to put it another way, only government-sanctioned members of the media deserve protection.
And if you’re a blogger exercising your rights to Freedom of Speech? Well . . . to paraphrase the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld, No speech for you! Funny how the word Nazi keeps showing up so much these days when discussing our government, wouldn’t you say?
At about the same time that this was going on, the Obama administration’s FCC developed their own plan for dealing with the media when they announced that they would conduct a “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs.” Fox News reported that the intent of this study was: to understand the process of which stories are selected, station priorities, content production, populations served, perceived station bias and perceived percent of news dedicated to each of the “critical information needs” in a community.
So far, the Senate legislation hasn’t gone anywhere. And since Der Führer, I mean the President, has no tolerance for Congress when it doesn’t do his will, his plan to spy on, I mean monitor, the media is about to proceed. This should trouble everyone who believes in our rights under the Constitution.
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), worries it could be used to intimidate certain news organizations into only covering issues that the government feels are important:
“This is an extremely troubling and dangerous development that represents the latest in an ongoing assault on the Constitution by the Obama administration,” Sekulow said in a statement. “We have seen a corrupt IRS unleashed on conservatives. We have seen an imperial president bypass Congress and change the law with executive orders.”
The FCC only has jurisdiction over the broadcast industry, not over cable news or print publications. They have no jurisdiction on broadcast news content, and absolutely no jurisdiction on newspapers. This study could eventually turn into an opportunity for the government to determine what is, and isn’t, news. And at the very least, it’s likely to bring the type of government intimidation and oppression the Constitution was meant to protect us from. As Jay Sekulow concluded:
“Now we see the heavy hand of the Obama administration poised to interfere with the First Amendment rights of journalists,” Sekulow said. “It’s clear that the Obama administration is only interested in utilizing intimidation tactics – at the expense of Americans and the Constitution. The federal government has no place attempting to control the media, using the unconstitutional actions of repressive regimes to squelch free speech.”
As if intimidating the media wasn’t enough, the FCC is about to play the Goebbel card in another arena as well, the internet.
After suffering their second defeat in their efforts to define the internet—also known as Net Neutrality—the FCC will try a third set of rules to regulate the content of the internet. Funny how liberals accept the ruling of the courts for things like murdering babies and socialized medicine, but refuse to do so when it comes to a pesky thing like the free market . . . but I digress.
Net Neutrality is supposedly meant to prevent internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against web content that competes with the providers’ own services. Sounds like a nobel until you consider what could ultimately happen.
Besides allowing the government to pick the winners and losers in the free marketplace, Net Neutrality ultimately gives the government unlimited power to regulate the internet. Judge Silberman came to this conclusion in his dissent opinion. He noted that Section 706 “grant[s] the FCC virtually unlimited power to regulate the Internet.” There are those who favor Net Neutrality who will tell you that there are safeguards to prevent this from happening. Silberman calls these limitations “illusory.” Most notably, he states that if Section 706 justifies “any regulation that, in the FCC’s judgment might arguably make the Internet ‘better’” — what limit is there?
Joseph Goebbels was a German Nazi Party member who became Adolf Hitler’s Propaganda Minister. His position gave him total power over all German radio, press, cinema, and theatre. Under his guidance, the Nazi government controlled the timing and content of government communications with the German people, censoring any message they didn’t approve. Germans could only see what the Nazi hierarchy wanted them to see, hear what they wanted them to hear, and read only what the Nazis permitted them to read.
Sounds a lot like the FCC to me.
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