COMMENTARY | According to Fox News, conservatives and civil libertarians are alarmed at a proposal by the FCC to insert researchers in news rooms across the country to find out how news stories are selected and reported.
The purpose of the study is to, “identify and understand the critical information needs of the American public, with special emphasis on vulnerable-disadvantaged populations.”
The fear is that this is an attempt by the Obama administration to pressure news organizations to cover stories that it favors. Even just having researchers in the behest of the FCC, which hands out licenses to radio and TV stations, asking questions of reporters and producers is seen as exercising not so subtle pressure. It is a small step from that to having government minders in every news organization, approving and disapproving what goes on the air or gets into print.
The question arises, how is it that anyone thinks that this is a good idea? The answer lies in the record of the Obama administration of flouting the Constitution, ranging from IRS harassment of tea party and conservative groups, NSA spying, and the president’s tendency to be his own legislative branch with his pen and his phone.
The news media has undergone a revolution in recent decades, with a wide variety of viewpoints and way in which the news is seen, ranging from the left with MSNBC and NPR to the mainstream right with Fox News, talk radio, and certain parts of the Internet. Just about everything that can be covered is covered somewhere. All one has to do is to google and see.
So, in a sense, this proposal is a study of a problem that doesn’t actually exist. The media universe is a vibrant, sometimes contentious place, with lots of argument and lots of diversity. That may be the actual problem, from the point of view of the Obama administration. Too much media diversity means too much criticism of the current regime and its policies. Clearly they need to find out why that is and, if possible, put a stop to that.