How do you have freedom of the press if the Federal administration is actively looking into how you do things in the newsroom?

Recently the FCC announced a Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs  saying that it wanted 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.  It all sounds rather benign on the surface, they just want to make sure people are getting the news that is relevant to them.  However, it could set a dangerous precedent with regard to freedom of the press.  One would think it more practical to survey the people receiving the news, but not this administration.

Within the description above, who defines the “critical information needs” of a community?  In rural Kansas the critical needs might be weather, tornado and farm reports; while in downtown New York it might be the latest in gun control legislation, recently banned foods and stock prices.  From my knee-jerk perception of the present administration, it sounds to me like they will determine what the “needs” are, which creates a serious bias because the United States of America administration is based from Washington D.C., a defined non-state district nestled on the border between Maryland and Virginia; a veritable concrete and steel jungle of urbanization having priorities vastly different from about half the population, at least those living rurally.  This is really no more than a survey to find out if news organizations are reporting on the things the administration wants them to.  And what if news organizations aren’t?  What if the news outlets have different priorities than the administration?

Is the next step censorship of the news?  If the administration feels a news organization is not meeting the “needs’ the administration has defined, will the administration place controls on the news organization?  Would we be entering a stage of state controlled media?  Will they execute Executive Orders to define what kind of news can be broadcast, when and where?  Will it dictate the whim of the Federal government or will it serve the people’s needs?  What happened to First Amendment freedoms?

If you don’t think it can happen, listen to this newscaster

Or maybe This One

It is not the job of the administration to run the press.  It is the job of the government to ensure the press is free to work as it is designed, which is to say the government should stay out of the press room.  The job of the press is to critique the administration and inform the population.  If the administration doesn’t like the critiquing it’s getting, then it should work harder to be more responsive to the people rather than suppress or attempt to control them.  Suppressing the First Amendment is akin to propaganda control by a communist regime.  Next step… control what the people can do, where they can live, what job they have, when they have to work, when they can play, how much they make.  Meanwhile the political elite get to do what they want, safely regulating what everybody has to do, even though the elite don’t have to.

Since the above mentioned article appeared, the administration has backed off this survey for a couple of reasons, the FCC’s response and the media’s reaction.  The FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai is the person who apparently derailed this by bringing it to the public in a published opinion piece.  He doesn’t know how the survey came about.  It wouldn’t surprise me however if it was totally driven by the current administration through a committee that doesn’t involve the FCC Commissioner.  It sounds as if it was something he was being directed to do, that he was never involved in the process of setting up the survey or the contractors who were going to administer it (probably ACORN volunteers).  It sounds as if the FCC Commissioner had a conscious, something rare in D.C. these days, understood the Constitution and blew the whistle on the program because he knew it was wrong and the American public shouldn’t stand for it.  However I would caution all those in the media industry to be vigilant because I would not put it past this administration to simply wait for the issue to die down and then carefully and stealthily administer it anyway.  Just remember, the answer to all their questions is… none of their business, read the constitution,

This administration continues it’s assault on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.  When the administrations can’t find acceptance when they blatantly violate the tenants of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, by all appearances they feel compelled to violate citizen’s rights through stealthy back-door deals and executive actions.  This administration is teetering on the same edge that King George the III found himself on in 1774.  It’s very close to the brink faced by Abraham Lincloln when he was inaugurated as President and facing a civil conflict.  If this administration doesn’t bring itself back from that brink, the Patriots will rise again, it will be a fight of left versus right, of liberal versus conservative, of the haves and the have-nots.  It may by all indications leave the country bloodied and bruised, ripe for foreigners to take a shot at intervening and possibly control.  Is that what we want?  Might it all start with the media?  Has it already?

The pen has been known to be mightier than the sword, but also consider it shall be the sword which protects the right of the pen to be mighty.


Asa  Jay

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Copyright 2014, Asa Jay Laughton