As the nation's leading newspaper and a beneficiary of the American tradition of free expression, the New York Times would of course celebrate a First Amendment victory at the Supreme Court, right? Well, not exactly.
Friday's lead slot was dominated by the Supreme Court's expected but still momentous decision rejecting limits on corporate campaign spending in elections.
But the subhead to Adam Liptak's story, "Justices, 5-4, Reject Corporate Campaign Spending Limit," ignored the victory for free speech in favor of dour liberal fears: "Dissenters Argue That Ruling Will Corrupt Democracy."
Overruling two important precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.
The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment's most basic free speech principle -- that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.
A publicly-traded corporation, The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO) publishes a daily newspaper which includes daily editorials aimed at influencing public opinion inside the corridors of Congress, White House, and regulatory agencies, and ultimately over voter preferences at the polls.
Yet when it comes to conservative groups or non-mainstream media for-profit corporation engaging in the same use of "unlimited independent expenditures" to influence voters, that's an entirely different story for the Post, which slammed yesterday's Supreme Court ruling as "Judicial Activism Inc.":
UPDATE (below the fold): Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity referenced the video from this post on his January 20th show.
The Word of the Day is: Context.
First, as to the video at right. Its context is the May 9, 2009 White House Correspondents Association Dinner. At which White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel uttered the following:
"When you think about the First Amendment...you think it's highly overrated."
Emanuel said this to an unidentified entertainment reporter (I did not toil too strenuously to ascertain his identity). But said scribe seemed a little bewildered by Emanuel's assertion, despite the obvious mirth in Rahm's face as he delivers the line - at the Correspondents' Dinner. The irony appears to escape the man with the microphone.
But given how the Administration has gone on to handle all things First Amendment, perhaps this journalist is not humor-addled, but prescient. Let us now place Emanuel's remark into the proper Administrative context.
Fox News Channel and radio talk show host Glenn Beck has quickly risen to be one the most prominent targets of the Left. Radio Talk King Rush Limbaugh is Liberal Enemy #1; there's a strong case to be made that Beck is now running second.
One of the myriad feeble way's the Left attempts to deal with Beck - or any conservative - is to dismiss him or her as a liar, without any facts to back up said claim and often in the face of overwhelming evidence provided by the conservative in question.
Beck is spending this week on his FNC show revisiting the copious reams of evidence he compiled over the course of the last year - as he laid waste to one liberal nostrum and public official (Czar, if you will) after another.
And who did Beck choose to have bat lead off in his "Let's Hammer Home the Truth" week?
How Do You Know Mark Lloyd is Lying? Editor's Note: MRC President and NewsBusters.org Publisher Brent Bozell earlier today issued a statement on this.
Mark Lloyd, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s Chief Diversity Officer, made an appearance outside the confines of the communications Bat Cave yesterday. He keynoted a morning panel discussion entitled Social Media, Net Neutrality, and Future of Journalism for the liberal group (and FCC "Diversity" Committee member) Media Access Project.
I highlight his emergence because his boss, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, has declined to make Lloyd available for interviews, saying he as Chair speaks for the FCC and his staff. (A position which I think is completely fair and appropriate.) So it is rare to see him out and about.
Lloyd in fact began his talk by stating "The views I express today are my own. I do not speak for the Federal Communications Commission." Which is also fine.
What wasn't fine was his deep delving into untruths when he later attempted to defend himself against what he claimed were "exaggerations and distortions" of a wide range of his thoughts, positions and policy prescriptions, from what he called a "right-wing smear campaign."
In old school parlance, Lloyd lied. Quite a bit. And how do we know this?
Yesterday in a speech for the Media Access Project, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chief Diversity Officer Mark Lloyd claimed to refute numerous what he called “exaggerations and distortions” of a wide range of his thoughts, positions and policy prescriptions from what he called a “right-wing smear campaign.” What Lloyd did was offer numerous falsehoods and denials about things that are undeniably true.
For example, Lloyd has insisted that a "right-wing smear campaign" was "distorting [his] views about the First Amendment" when in fact, in his 2006 book "Prologue to a Farce," Lloyd plainly made clear his view that the freedoms of speech and press were "all too often an exaggeration" and that "the purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance."
In response to Lloyd's lies, Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell released a statement today [click here for the full press release]:
A powerful Democratic lawmaker has stated his willingness to intervene on the behalf of the federal government in the nation's news sector. Insisting that the newspaper business is vital to democracy, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., suggested that the government "resolve" the problems in the industry, potentially though misguided federal bailouts.
At a workshop on the future of journalism at the Federal Trade Commission, Waxman, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, suggested the federal government secure "public funding for quality journalism as a means to preserve a critical mass of resources and assets devoted to public media."
Though Waxman raised other options, he devoted more of his address to public funding for newspapers than any other avenue for preserving the medium. Newspaper bailouts could, he stated, "preserve and maintain key functions of modern journalism ... by cushioning the economic squeeze publishers are facing."
The imminent end of the world. Aliens (the ones from space, not the illegal kind). Witches and warlocks. Those are some of things Americans believe in.
Unbiased journalism? Not so much.
That's what the polling tells us. A 2008 Harris Poll reinforced that belief. More Americans believe in ghosts (44 percent), UFOs (36 percent) and witches (31 percent) than believe journalists. No major media outlet scored that high according to the 2009 Pew State of the Media report.
Hollywood must be paying attention. Nearly every top film of 2009 reflects those topics. Everything from the "Transformers" sequel to the "Night at the Museum" sequel to the latest "Star Trek" and "Twilight" movies has been a success. Top 100 films have taken in more than $8 billion according to Boxofficemojo.com. Nine of the top 10 are fantasy, science fiction or horror. They amount to more than $2.2 billion of that total.
You don't see Hollywood doing many big budget movies about journalism.
Bill Cathcart, Clearing Away the PC Clutter Bill Cathcart, Vice President and General Manager for CBS affiliate WTOC in Savannah, Georgia, took to the airwaves on November 9th with a blistering video editorial excoriating the hold political correctness (PC) has on our society (video and transcript below the fold).
It is certainly refreshing to hear and see a news executive say these sorts of things, given the prostraters to PC that so thoroughly inhabit his profession.
Cathcart began by speaking of the horrific Fort Hood, Texas murders by Islamist extremist Nidal Malik Hasan, and pointing out how it was political correctness (PC) that cowed everyone from talking to anyone about this obviously dangerous man.
Cathcart rightly points out that this oppressive PC regime dominates not just the Army, but the nation. "We've become so ridiculous with our political correctness. So afraid of offending, despite the truth. So overly tolerant and self-effacing, pandering and apologizing to be liked. Putting up with absurd challenges to our Constitution, laws, traditions and freedoms, that we've become a nation of enablers for those with evil intent."
Leading the charge on this are, of course, Cathcart's media cohorts. There are no greater PC enablers and enforcers than the men and women who allegedly deliver us the news.
Throughout the history of this country playing the role of a global power, the United States has faced down threats of fascism and communism. The country is now in the throes of a war against terrorism.
However, on ABC's Nov. 22 "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," a panel consisting of Washington Post columnist George Will, Liz Cheney of Keep America Safe, University of California, Berkeley professor Robert Reich and Walter Isaacson is the President and CEO of The Aspen Institute, warned the next ideological battle facing the country is that which China practices - an authoritarian market society or authoritarian capitalism.
"For 37 years, every administration has bet, since Nixon went to China, on a theory, and the theory was that capitalism, market economy, which requires a judicial system to enforce promises, which are called contracts, needs a vast dissemination of information and decision-making that capitalism by its mores and working would subvert the regime, that you could not have an authoritarian market society," Will said. "It's the Starbucks fallacy. It turns out to be a fallacy, that if the Chinese have a choice of coffees, they'll want a -- they'll demand a choice of political candidates. We may be wrong. It could be you can have an authoritarian system."
Want to know how the left really feels about free speech? Look no further than Huffington Post editor and co-founder Arianna Huffington.
Huffington appeared on MSNBC's Nov. 19 "Countdown" to discuss a report by the Anti-Defamation League that alleges Fox News host Glenn Beck is "the most important mainstream media figure who has repeatedly helped to stoke fires of anti-government anger" and therefore endangering society.
"It would be nice to think of Glenn Beck just as a joke, as fodder for this show and the "Daily Show" and others that point out how stupid some of this stuff is," "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann said. "But this report, you know, suggests something else, this is - fear-monger-in-chief term is frightening."
The Wall Street Journal's intrepid and very good Amy Schatz has a piece today updating us on the progress of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s National Broadband Plan.
With all that we have thus far seen, things look quite grim from a free speech, free market perspective. The groundwork for government information totalitarianism - favored by people like Hugo Chavez-loving FCC "Diversity Czar" Mark Lloyd and Marxist "media reform"-outfit Free Press founder Robert McChesney - is being laid in the Plan being crafted by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
As we first reported, the Center for American Progress (at which Lloyd was then a Senior Fellow) and McChesney's Free Press co-authored the deeply flawed, anti-conservative and Christian talk radio "report" entitled The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio.
But their shared disdain for free speech and the free market extend way beyond just this. These "media reformers" seek to eradicate most or all private ownership of all information delivery - be it by radio, television or the internet - thereby leaving the federal government as sole purveyor.
At the top of Monday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric teased a story on the President’s trip to China by casting him as Reaganesque: “Mr. Hu, tear down that firewall. President Obama challenges China’s government to allow unfettered access to the internet.”
Couric introduced the segment that followed by continuing to play up the idea that Obama took a hard line on Chinese censorship: “In China today, he challenged leaders of the communist government to give people greater access to the internet.” Correspondent Chip Reid reported that the President’s actual statement on the matter was hardly so dramatic: “It’s one of the touchiest topics in China and the President’s long answer took on the tone of a polite lecture.”
A clip was played of Obama declaring: “I have always been a strong supporter of open internet use. I’m a big supporter of non-censorship....I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me. I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger...” Reid described those comments as a “rebuke” that “was aimed at China’s leaders.” However, He went on to admit: “...if they were watching it on TV, most Chinese were not, because the government allowed it to run on only one local channel in Shanghai. In the rest of China, they aired a soap opera.”
Former CNN host Lou Dobbs stuck to his guns when questions were raised if he was forced out at CNN in an interview with Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly.
However, Dobbs did make one distinction - how his detractors decided to pile on when he was critical of President Barack Obama instead of former President George W. Bush. He elaborated on this on Fox News Channel's Nov. 16 "The O'Reilly Factor."
"I discerned more of a difference between then, which was under the Bush administration, whom I was criticizing and now when it is the Obama administration and an entirely different tone was taken, not so much in the case of CNN management certainly, because there is no - my contract is very explicit. I have absolute editorial control. What I reported is what I chose to report."
"I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable."
That was President Barack Obama speaking to college students as part of his current trip to Asia. The quote surfaced during a town hall discussion in Shanghai, and was widely regarded as a shot toward human rights violations at the hands of the Chinese government.
It's great to see that our President believes in free speech. But apparently, it should only be applied in countries where there is no Rush Limbaugh.
Associated Press reporter Charles Hutzler was quick to offer glowing coverage of the speech in an article titled "Obama to China: Uncensored Society is Healthy." The piece emphatically praised Obama's "animated defense" of free speech while completely ignoring the President's own record of attacking news outlets in the States and urging fellow politicians not to listen to talk radio.
Before continuing, readers are encouraged to set down all beverages and reach for the duct tape, for the blatant hypocrisy to come is unbelievably rich:
Forget Ford Hood and investigating the so-called "terror" connections of Nidal Hasan.
Yours truly has come across something the current crowd running our government might see as even more sinister. The Obama administration, the FBI, the Justice Department, and, most importantly, the White House's speech police simply have to get on this right away.
You see, General David Petraeus visited the Air Force Academy last week and may have uttered a word once thought to have been stricken from all speeches and discussions relating to military matters.
We wrote Monday of Leftist, George Soros-funded "media reform" outfit Free Press, and their extensive relationships with people currently in power at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and in the White House - up to and including President Barack Obama.
With current FCC Chief Diversity Officer ("Diversity Czar") Mark Lloyd and the Leftist, George Soros-funded Center for American Progress, Free Press co-authored the 2007 report The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio. Which calls for the FCC to enforce exceedingly broad (we would say warped) new definitions of the media diversity and localism FCC broadcast license requirements. These new definitions and their enactment are intended to force conservative and Christian talk show hosts off the air, to be replaced by those of a Leftist bent.
Free Press developed then-presidential candidate Obama's communications policies portfolio. Now-President Obama's FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski hired Free Press Press Secretary Jen Howard to serve in the same capacity for the FCC. And Marxist 9-11 "Truther"Van Jones - who was President Obama's "Green Jobs Czar" until his multi-layered, anti-American and paranoid past came to light, forcing him to resign - was a Free Press Board member until 2008.
We also mentioned Free Press's co-founder, college professor and avowed Marxist Robert McChesney. (Some fairly interesting video quotes from him at right; inordinately interesting print quotes from him below the fold.) If you have not yet already had enough Marxism and Marxists, please - read on (warning - there's a Reverend Jeremiah Wright on-video sighting beneath as well).
The broader public is finally being introduced to Leftist "media reform" outfit Free Press and its co-founder, avowed Marxist Robert McChesney. (I appeared on the October 7, 2009 edition of the Glenn Beck television show to discuss one and all.)
Founded in 2002, McChesney's Free Press seeks to transform the media landscape - on radio, television and the internet - via (amongst other ways) sweeping rules changes at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Changes that would dramatically decrease private ownership of the means of news and information delivery, with the federal government assuming an ever greater replacement role.
One intended effect of this shift away from free market media to government-owned media is to diminish what Free Press sees as the inherently right-wing slant of the news that results from corporate ownership. (Have they watched NBC, ABC or CBS - ever?). And in their warped view of the media landscape, conservative and Christian talk radio (which is not news but self-identified opinion) is the most egregious example of this alleged corporatist taint.
Free Press has spent the last seven years developing policy prescriptions and working with like-minded policy and public officials that would make this hoped-for transformational change a reality. And their allies are now in place and in power - at the FCC and in the White House.
A new report on the state of the newspaper industry in Argentina has found that federal appropriations for newspapers have resulted in less coverage of government corruption. This study goes to the heart of the 'newspaper bailout' debate in this country, and demonstrates the danger of supporting the news media with government funds (h/t Mark Tapscott).
Many liberal media commentators have called for direct federal subsidies for ailing newspapers, arguing that federally-supported news media are essential to democracy. The most prominent group in this camp is Free Press, founded by liberal media guru--and avowed socialist--Robert McChesney (incidentally, McChesney has avidly defended Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's crackdown on opposition media outlets in the country).
Let's say, hypothetically, someone was to make a disparaging statement about Fox News and conclude as a news outlet it is way outside of mainstream political thought. Well, then the follow-up appropriate question could be where does that put Fox News' competitors who get just a fraction of the cable news juggernaut's ratings?
Michael Wolff, a contributing editor and columnist Vanity Fair and CNBC regular, told MSNBC's "Hardball" host Chris Matthews on his Oct. 26 program the White House strategy was to marginalize Fox News the same way conservatives once did to liberals, making "liberal" a word with negative connotations. However, he also made the bizarre conclusion that Fox News, which dominates cable news on a regular basis, is "not very popular."
There's little doubt that at hand is an ongoing effort by the Obama White House to marginalize the Fox News Channel - especially after the administration attempted to leave Fox out of the White House pool last week. That is something conservative columnist Cal Thomas said is eerily comparable to Cold War tactics of the old Soviet Union.
On the Fox News Channel's Oct. 24 "Fox News Watch," Thomas alluded to an Oct. 21 column he wrote, which he compared what the Soviets did with radio signals that penetrated the Iron Curtain to deliver a message of freedom from Western Europe - they jammed them.
"I wrote a column on this, this week - if I can promote myself and my own column," Thomas said. "I likened it to what happened during the Cold War, when the Soviet Union especially tried to jam the signals of the Voice of America and Radio Europe, other entities that were trying to pump truth into the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc countries, the so-called captive nations."
Big shock here - MSNBC's Rachel Maddow agrees with the White House, which is the Fox News Channel is not really a news organization.
Sarcasm aside, on her Oct. 23 MSNBC program, Maddow attempted to justify the Obama administration's tack over recent months with Fox News. She laid out a series of events over the past few days that indicated an escalation of the feud between Fox News and the White House, specifically an effort to exclude Fox News from the White House pool.
"Well yesterday the White House said that Fox would not be among the networks invited to interview Ken Feinberg in one of these round-robin pool interviews and the other networks came to Fox's defense," Maddow reported. "They said they would bow out of interviewing Mr. Feinberg's themselves unless Fox was included, so Fox was included."
The cat is out of the bag at the New York Times. The Times has exposed, albeit passively, the true motivation behind the White House's Fox News attacks. Contrary to the administration's claims, it is deriding Fox not because it doesn't report the news, but rather because it does.
It is news, after all, when an organization potentially receiving billions in federal funds aids and abets what it thinks is a criminal organization. It is news when a high-level White House adviser, responsible for the distribution of $80 billion in federal funds, is outed as a communist and a 'truther' conspiracy theorist. It is news when the president's chief communications officer admits her admiration for a murderous dictator.
Throughout the previous administration, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann would nightly attack President George W. Bush and members of his administration and regularly bash some conservative personalities for being too cozy with Bush.
However, when he and his MSNBC colleague Rachel Maddow engage in the same brand of coziness, meeting with President Barack Obama earlier this week, it's no longer an indiscretion. Instead, it becomes justified - since Bush did it. Olbermann appeared on the Oct. 23 "The Rachel Maddow Show" and he and Maddow responded to critics. Maddow asked him to respond to particular comments from former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, now a Fox News contributor, that there would be an outcry had the Bush administration committed something similar.
Earlier, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., took on the issue and defended Fox and its audience. However, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, also took on the White House and questioned why it would be something Obama and his administration should be concerned with in comments from the floor of the House of Representatives on Oct. 20.
Just when you thought the White House couldn't possibly do anything to make their bizarre feud with the Fox News Channel an even larger spectacle - the administration manages to take it to another level.
On the Oct. 22 broadcast of Fox News Channel's "Special Report," host Bret Baier revealed a White House pool announcement was offering Kenneth Feinberg, the "Special Master for Compensation," better known as the White House "pay czar" for interviews - all except for one network - Fox News.
"You know, the American people cherish our freedom of speech and a free and independent press," Pence said. "That's why I found this morning's headlines so troubling. Goaded on by a White House increasingly intolerant of criticism, lately the national media has taken aim at conservative commentators in radio and television - suggesting that they only speak for a small group of activists and even suggesting in one report today that Republicans in Washington are quote, ‘worried about their electoral effect.' Well, that's hogwash."
CNN’s Carol Costello again omitted the liberal source of a statistic she touted during a report on Wednesday’s American Morning, that 91% of talk radio is apparently conservative. Costello also pushed the left-wing aim of localism in radio programming, playing three soundbites in favor of the proposal, versus two against it.
Near the end of her report, which aired at the bottom of the 7 am Eastern hour, the CNN correspondent cited ultra-left talker Randi Rhodes (all three clip in favor of localism came from Rhodes), who “says millions of Americans get their political talk from AM radio -- 91 percent of which is conservative.” Costello didn’t cite the source of the figure, which comes from a 2007 report by two liberal organizations -- the Center for American Progress and Free Press -- and co-authored by Mark Lloyd, who is now the FCC’s “chief diversity officer.” The correspondent touted the figure as well during a report on Monday’s American Morning, where she claimed that it came from “Talkers” magazine. The figure itself is misleading because, as MRC’s Culture and Media Institute pointed out, the CAP report ignored “non-commercial radio,” such as NPR and other public radio networks.
Is Barack Obama turning into Spiro Agnew? The White House's attacks on the Fox News smack of the distaste for media opposition espoused by Nixon's vice president almost 40 years ago but are being met with a decidedly different reaction today by the elite media.
Pundits have wondered aloud since last week why the White House would pursue a strategy that seems to be boosting the ratings of a purported 'opposition' news network. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough posited today that the White House's attacks on Fox News are designed to prevent the mainstream media from picking up on stories damaging to the administration (video embedded below the fold, h/t to NB reader Kirk W.).
Every time Fox breaks a story on the radical connections of a White House advisor or appointee, the news is potentially damaging to the administration. But damage is only really done if the rest of the media picks up on the story, reports it, and turns it into a national news sensation, a la Van Jones.
After another round of attacks from the White House, this time from higher levels of the Obama administration, Brit Hume, a senior political analyst for Fox News, went to bat for his network.
On the Oct. 19 broadcast of Fox News Channel's "Special Report with Bret Baier," Hume gave his best effort to rationalize why White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Obama Senior Advisor David Axelrod used two Sunday morning news show appearances to beat up on the highly rated news channel. According to Hume, it was because they disapproved of the stories his channel broke over the last few months.
"It is a little hard to discern a strategy behind the White House campaign of criticism of Fox News unless it's simply this - an attempt to quarantine Fox and thereby discourage other media outlets from following up stories did originate here," Hume said. "The White House is clearly stung by the revelations about former aid Van Jones. He turned out to have harbored views that were out there where the buses don't run and he was forced to resign. And the White House could not much have cared for the hidden camera expose of ACORN - an organization with which the president had a past association and one whose voter registration drives have benefited the Democratic Party."