9.10.09 UPDATE – Hidden Agenda: The FCC’s Diversity Officer by Brian Jennings
Obama’s media diversity czar says we should follow the example set by Hugo Chavez when it comes to managing journalism. Hugo’s approach: shutdown radio and television and print media opposed to his regime. Read more here.
Never mention to anyone at the Center for American Progress that talk radio is largely conservative because listeners and advertisers like it that way. Over at CAP, freedom must always bow to their idea of fairness, and private property must therefore always give way to the public interest, as defined by you know who. (In the interests of fairness and balance and accuracy please note big liberal corporate money funded Air America radio and other attempts to counter the conservative talk radio juggernaut, and they all failed, because, well, people didn’t want to listen. Is Mr. Lloyd and Friends insisting government force people to listen?)
Now that we have the Fairness Doctrine personified in the FCC, who needs the legislative branch, or the courts for that matter?
Listen to how diversity officiating must be installed to save the democracy and fulfill the Founder’s vision.
According to Mark Lloyd, the greatest problem facing America today is not the economy, not terrorism, not even global warming or nuclear proliferation. No, the great problem is: MEDIA BIAS, video testimony here.
Now, before you start applauding Mr. Lloyd, you must hear him out, in the interests of fairness of course.
“Media bias is the ideological distortion of information,” proclaims Mr. Lloyd. So far, so good. However, Mr. Lloyd asserts bias transcends partisanship. (Wouldn’t want to do any indepth studies of the imbalance of Leftist ideology mucking up televison and print journalism would we? Might foul up the narrative.)
“The problem of bias is built into our current system. Our communication system supports a vibrant commerical media but IGNORES the needs of a government of the people. The bias inherent in such a system promotes the bias of corporations, not citizens. Our peculiar American system of communication says that who ever has the most money will be the loudest voice in the public debate. Is this the sort of system that leads to fairness? The Founders of our democracy would say debate dominated by any one faction in our society is not sufficient to the needs of democracy.”
(Government run media will no doubt involve bias from that quarter as well. Since when did government propaganda serve the interests of democracy? Note in these opening remarks Mr. Lloyd tells us we have only recently focused on the 1st Amendment, that he is not suggesting we censor bad speech but we should rather call for better speech, and he credits the Founders establishing the post office system for the encouragement of early media diversity yielding equality and fairness. He asserts we have strayed far from the Founders’ ideal. )
“Multinational corporations dominate the political conversation in the United States today.” (Is the singular corporate voice heard at MSNBC or over at Fox? Is it heard on NPR or over at CBS? Does Mother Jones have a corporate advertiser here and there?)
Mr. Lloyd claims Congress supports these multinational corporations through a tax structure that promotes their life blood—advertising. We give them free licenses, “access to our streets and alley ways,” and their only motive is profit. (So the profit motive causes a monolithic media? Is that how Mr. Obama got elected?)
“If Americans do not understand one another because of the distortions or omissions in the news, NBC will not lose their access to public property, if Americans and countless civilians in other countries lose their lives because of the drumbeat for war, Fox will not be punished, the New York Times will not be held responsible for focusing on White Water, and passing on lies about weapons of mass destruction.”
[Wow. Will a diversity czar independently indict, try and convict Fox for war mongering, and meat out punishment? Reporters and producers hauled before the FCC for war crimes, genocide, murder by news report?]
“Let me be clear that I believe in the importance of a competitive commercial press, unrestrained by government, but we need more. We need a media responsible to promote democratic dialogue. We need media independent of corporations.” (Media independent of private ownership falls squarely in the lap of a restraining government, for where else can it reside?)
He says if we want “news we can trust,” we must build a structure, and “we must pay for it.” One way to do this is to “require commercial media to pay full fare for their access to public resources, and use that money to fully support public service media. A modern equivalent of the post office would be independent from both partisan and corporate pressure, unlike our current structure. And unlike our current structure [this new media structure] must be accountable to local communities through democratic means. I would say these steps were radical if they were not consistent with the Founders, and unless we take these steps, we can only expect a continuation of the sort of Yellow Journalism we are experiencing today.”
My notes: Mr. Lloyd makes a few good points about the problems with corporate media and the interference of the commercial interests with the journalistic pursuit. News budgets are ordinarily scant until you get into the larger organizations in the big cities, investigative reporting is rare, television talking heads do tend to read press releases, or lift information from newspapers, and radio is not so much a news medium as it is news commentary. Most people understand if you want to get to the heart of matters you have to research print media and the internet.
The problem with commercial media however is not solved with ‘government as editor. ’ Strong and independent news organizations in a rich, diverse and competitive atmosphere will serve the public best. The key is well-trained journalists, strong and independent news organizations, citizens who are sophisticated consumers of news, and the least amount of government involvement. If you think corporations bring undue bias, just wait until the politicians and the bureaucrats get their hands on the ‘free’ flow of information.
What Mr. Lloyd proposes is a new structure to encourage diversity and news independence but he would have media taxed and give government that revenue to insure we have fairness.
One man’s fairness is another man’s bias. Is a government official in a better position to evaluate issues of objectivity, fairness, accuracy, balance and thorough treatment compared to a professional editor or news producer?
Mr. Lloyd suggests central control by government through regulation, fines, penalties and taxation and in the same breath claims to promote a vibrant, commercially viable, independent press.
How does one have it both ways?
You will notice his language. Corporations and profits are the problem, fairness is the ideal, an unreachable ideal so long as greedy capitalists determine what you read and see and hear. Sounds very much like the healthcare debate: greedy doctors, and drug companies and insurance companies are the problem, and fairness and equality are the ideal, and the only solution is govenrment intervention.
Medicare on steroids to solve healthcare problems.
The modern Post Office to solve the problem of media bias.
So often, our efforts to solve one set of perceived problems creates a new strain of problems more resistant to our problem-solving acumen.
Government is no solution. It is rather a purveyor of problems, problems which multiply when we stray from the Founders’ vision of limited central authority restrained by the people via the Constitution.
The problem with Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Obama and Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Axelrod and Mr. Alinsky is they distill all problems down to a root cause—-corporate greed—-and render up all solutions residing in—-government bureacracy, or worse, the ‘paradise of communism,’ in Alinsky’s words, hardly the Founders’ vision.
Of course corporate greed can be a problem, but does it indict the entire captialist universe considering 70% of our economy is fueled by small business?
Did the ‘solution’ of government regulation save us from Wall Street derivatives, or Madoff , this go around? Did the ‘solution’ of Fannie Mae give us egalitarian mortgage markets? Did big government deliver a successful Cash for Clunkers program? Has $25 billion per year for 30+ years improved public education? After a similar amount spent during a similar period of time via the Dept. of Energy, are we independent of foreign oil?
The Post Office is fairly good at delivering the mail, at huge deficits, but is nowhere as trustworthy as FedEx or UPS.
Just as it contradicts the vision of the Founders to suggest a government agent overrule the family doctor, so it contradicts their vision to sweep aside the First Amendment, even if Mr. Lloyd finds it convenient in his personal crusade to install a ‘new structure’, a statist journalism.
1st Amendment: ”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
There are many who see FCC diversity officiating as a definite abridgement of the freedom of speech and of the press. There are many ways for government to make laws violating rights by skirting Congress, and if Congress concedes, it becomes a party to abridgement.
Finally, it is simplistic to say only money talks in media today. It is simply not true. Citizen journalists have exploded on the scene thanks to technology. There has never been more accountability, transparency, diversity, or independence, in or out of the commercial realm, whether we are talking about radio, television or print. Besides, taxpayers already subsidize media, in the main, media decidedly left of center—NPR, PBS etc. Additionally, even a casual listening of conservative talk radio demonstrates a routine practice of inviting liberal voices and airing them. One wonders where that dimension of fairness exists in studies concerning imbalance in political talk radio?
The last thing we need is more government control which always diminishes diversity and stifles independence. What we need are more fully engaged citizens, people with fine-tuned discrimination to select good from bad journalism, astute news consumers who will support those who engage in balanced, accurate and thorough communication. Competition in an atmosphere of freedom tends to make the cream rise. The Daily Kos makes Fox look all that much better! (Fox may be right of center, but it does one helluva lot better job bringing more sides of the story to the table than all competitors, and that’s why they are number one.)
We also need old school reporters who love the truth more than celebrity, public service more than profit. Government can never make journalism more professional. Journalists must do that. The consumers of news must hold them accountable. And the universities that turn them out must step up and take responsibility, as well.
It appears Mr. Lloyd wants government to spoon feed information, ignoring government too brings a bias to the table, a bias determined by the kind of people who happen to pull the levers of power in any given cycle.
BTW: when did the KGB ever provide the Russian people with fair and reliable news? And since when is a Czar constitutional?
PS: Mr. Lloyd is roundly critical of journalists, but journalists brought attention to the injustices of poverty and racism, the question of war in Southeast Asia, and the problems presented by Yellow Journalism in the 19th century. It seems Mr. Lloyd paints with a broad, single-stroke brush. And he appears to focus on television, perhaps because it is most powerful and most largely consumed. The problem there Mr. Lloyd is television itelf. It is not a medium warm to contemplation. It is rather an entertainment medium enslaved to the 8 second sound bite and rapid eye movement. There is no journalism on television, and therefore, there is no room for the FCC, in either radio or television regulation, to usher in a new age, or a new structure of unbiased media. Television is bias, commerical or commercial free, independent or government-run, but from its inception, television has been predominately a leftist organ, so why the beef about conservative radio? Perhaps the interplay between radio and television provides market-driven balance?
As to the efficacy of government-insured news you can trust, just ask your average Venezuelan, Cuban or North Korean. On the other hand, most of them won’t be able to tell you, because freedom of the press either never existed to provide them perspective, or it was murdered by government decree. All they know is statist journalism. They will tell you trust is not the general byproduct of government media.
IT Blogwatch: Obama’s ‘emergency’ powers over Internet: Cybersecurity Bill
It’s proposed that the White House should have emergency powers to control the Internet. A bill would give Barack Obama ‘cybersecurity’ authority to disconnect users and professionally certify IT people.
Update: White House sued for free speech violations
A physicians’ group and a social policy think tank are suing the Obama administration for privacy and free speech violations over a recent attempt to get people to e-mail the White House about any “fishy” misinformation they hear regarding health-care reform.