Government ‘Monitors’ in Our Newsrooms?

Barb Wire

According to a recent article by Matthew Clark over at Red State, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has revealed that the Obama Administration is ready to take another glaring power grab by placing Federal Communication Commission (FCC) monitors in our nation’s newsrooms.  In what he refers to as “an absurdly draconian attempt to intimidate and control the media,” Clark continued:

Before you dismiss this assertion as utterly preposterous (we all know how that turned out when the Tea Party complained that it was being targeted by the IRS), this bombshell of an accusation comes from an actual FCC Commissioner.  FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai reveals a brand new Obama Administration program that he fears could be used in “pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.”

As Commissioner Pai explained in the Wall Street Journal:

Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

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.”

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Matthew Clark also wrote:

The FCC has apparently already selected eight categories of “critical information” “that it believes local newscasters should cover. That’s right, the Obama Administration has developed a formula of what it believes the free press should cover, and it is going to send government monitors into newsrooms across America to stand over the shoulders of the press as they make editorial decisions.

In a related story over at Mediaite, the jaw-dropping scope of this intrusive and abusive program was further revealed:

There are also a number of questions that they pose in the study to news managers and staffers, including the following:

  • What is the news philosophy of the station?
  • How do you define critical information that the community needs?
  • Who decides which stories are covered?
  • Have you ever suggested coverage of what you consider a story with critical information for your customers (viewers, listeners, readers) that was rejected by management?

Finally, as Matthew Clark contemplated:

Is it any wonder that the U.S. now ranks 46th in the world for freedom of the press?  Reporters Without Boarders called America’s precipitous drop of 13 places in its recent global rankings “one of the most significant declines” in freedom of the press in the world.  Freedom of the press is proudly extolled in the First Amendment, yet our nation now barely makes the top fifty for media freedom.

As most of you can remember, we’ve seen similar assaults upon our freedoms with the Fairness Doctrine and the Grassroots Lobbying Bill.  Each of these were defeated, but they also clearly illustrate the Left’s repeated campaigns to endanger the First Amendment.  Likewise, this latest attempt by the FCC to begin monitoring U.S. newsrooms must also find itself on “the ash heap of history” or else freedom will be relegated to a distant memory.

There is a report out there now by Adweek stating that the FCC has just recently put this initiative on the back burner, but I can almost guarantee that this underhanded ploy continues to simmer in Obama’s mind.  This is stuff that liberal dreams are made of, and it’s also how repressive regimes thrive.  As Clark’s report further indicated, the FCC is, in fact, still planning to expand its regulatory powers to include newspapers in its “new government monitoring program.” The fact that the Obama Administration even considers such an appalling program speaks volumes.  Therefore, we must continue to remain vigilant in our guard against any attempted governmental limitations or intimidation of the constitutionally protected freedom of speech and the press.  No matter what happens in this case, the Left will definitely live to fight another day, and so should we.

Read More:  Red State

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Jeff Allen is both a senior editor and columnist for BarbWire. He also serves as senior pastor in a mainline Christian church in Indiana. He is an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene. Jeff is involved in several community ministries.

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