Charles Krauthammer Recommends Congress Defund FCC's Outrageous Newsroom Study

When the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to send researchers to monitor newsrooms was brought to light in the WSJ,  the MSM was mostly mum. But Fox News, and the conservative media have reacted with outraged disbelief that such a thing would even be tried.

Wednesday night on Greta Van Susteren, the Hill’s AB Stoddard spoke for many when she said, “it seems so ludicrous – so unAmerican – that I can’t believe that it would ever become real, but the fact that someone had an idea about it and it didn’t get slapped down – is more than strange.”

What the FCC wants to do, explained Republican FCC Commissioner, Ajit Pai in his WSJ piece, is send “researchers” to newsrooms to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.

The agency identified eight “critical information” subjects, including public health, politics, transportation, the environment and “economic opportunities” that it believes local newscasters should cover. 

Surveys were to be be distributed to reporters, news editors, assignment editors, publishers, owners, on-air reporters, film editors and other station or newspaper staff, asking them a number of invasive questions about their “news philosophy” and how they selected stories.

Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, was struck by how “very reminiscent” the questions were of the kinds of questions that were asked of his clients in the IRS targeting scandal.

“Same kind of questioning process of content, determination on point of view, and I think this government, this administration is bent on aiming and targeting those they don’t like,” Sekulow told Megyn Kelly on Wednesday night’s Kelly File.

Which explains the lack of outrage from the MSM – ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, WaPo, the NYTs  (the Democrat Media Complex as Andrew Breitbart used to call them.) They already tailor their coverage to meet the stated PC requirements of the Obama administration. They understand that they are not the ones being targeted in this survey.

Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi wrote yesterday that the FCC’s proposed government study has sparked a conservative outcry.

A proposed government study of how media organizations gather news has incited a powerful backlash, particularly among conservatives, who said that it could be part of an official effort to intimidate or second-guess journalists.

It’s profoundly sad that journalists in the MSM can’t muster up any outrage over this, but as Elizabeth Scalia astutely noted at Patheos, “an obsequious press that couldn’t be bothered to sustain outrage over intrusions into its own phone and internet records won’t have a problem with the government parking itself into the newsroom.”

… if the mainstream press could forgive them for considering espionage charges against a member of the press — for doing what reporters are supposed to do — and then re-commence their habitual boot-licking, there is no real risk of media folk suddenly calling out a “red line”, or even being able to identify one.

At any rate, there was enough of an outcry that the Federal Communications Commission’s chairman said Thursday that he would “amend the effort.”

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler responded to the growing furor Thursday by ordering the removal of questions about news philosophy and editorial judgment.
Last week, in a letter about the study to Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House committee that oversees the FCC, Wheeler said that the commission had “no intention of regulating political or other speech.”
Wheeler inherited this project from his predecessor, former interim chairman Mignon Clyburn.

Mignon Clyburn is the daughter of  Rep James Clyburn (D-SC),  an outspoken proponent of reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.

The removal of the questions doesn’t change the spirit of the whole flawed study that is premised on a concept Charles Krauthammer scornfully derided on Fox News’ Special Report Thursday night:

“Who decides what’s a critical information need? A critical information need is a concept that you have in Kiev or Moscow – not in the United States”, he declared. 

Krauthammer proposed that Congress pass a law withholding funding from the study.


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