They've since backed off, however as late as last month the Federal Communications Commission was putting forward a plan that would have put federal monitors in radio and television newsrooms.
"The Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs (CINs) initiative was proposed last May. The FCC explained that it wanted information from television and radio broadcasters 'to ascertain the process by which stories are selected, station priorities (for content production quality, and populations served), perceived station bias, perceived percent of news dedicated to each of the eight CIN's and perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.'" Fox News reported. "The FCC has identified eight CINs, or key topics that the government believes should be covered."
Words fail. I mean seriously, I don't even know where to start.
Let us begin with the First Amendment, which reads: "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."
I'm not sure what might abridge the freedom of speech or of the press _more_ than having government political officers sitting in on your newsroom staff meetings taking notes about what you intend to cover and why — or worse, making "suggestions" about what to cover. Note above: "The FCC has identified eight CINs, or key topics that the government believes should be covered."
I can just see some Soviet Zampolit saying: "Comrade! We have story ideas for you!"
And if that seems alarmist, consider that this administration has already admitted to spying on the American public and on journalists as well.
Consider as well that America has slipped to 46 on Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index. Seriously, Namibia ranks higher than we do.
What's more frightening to me is that there has been very little outcry among journalists, beyond the right-leaning new media.
Where is CNN flipping a biscuit over this? ABC? CBS? I leave out MSNBC and NBC News as they would probably welcome a Commissar to make sure they were not deviating from the approved message.
Leaving politics aside, I simply cannot fathom the media even 10 years ago laying down like this for _any_ administration.
After the initial furor over the reports that the Department of Justice was wiretapping the Associated Press, the story has died away. I cannot imagine any other president — of either party — surviving that sort of Constitutional infringement.
But the press has been strangely silent on this. I will not speculate as to why, although I could do so, but I will say the lack of reaction is at least as chilling as the suggestions.
A free press is as necessary to the security of a free state as the right to keep and bear arms. Without a free press the government is free to do as it wills, when it wills without regard to the legality of its actions.
Given that the natural tendency of government is to expand its power and to arrogate ever more authority unto itself, some check on its ability is required. The press was designed to be this.
We cannot function effectively — indeed at all — with government monitors watching our every move. The national media should be ashamed of their lack of outrage at this unprecedented intimidation by the FCC.