A multitude of organizations, hundreds of thousands of individuals join together to defend the First Amendment from a reinstatement of the so-called "Fairness" Doctrine
Editor's Note: You too can join the Free Speech Alliance. Click here and sign the petition, and stand at the ready for whenever any liberal again threatens the First Amendment with talk of reinstating the Censorship Doctrine.
Spreading the Word The Media Research Center today officially announced the Free Speech Alliance, a gathering of a multitude of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individual citizens dedicated to ensuring that the Censorship Doctrine, mis-named the "Fairness" Doctrine, is never again reinstated.
The Free Speech Alliance member organizations are themselves engaged in a wide array of issues, but they all recognize the preeminent importance of defending the First Amendment and protecting free speech from government censorship, a fundamental Constitutional safeguard.
The Free Speech Alliance member organizations thus far:
Governor: John? It's the Governor here. Say, you guys there at the Bristol Press are doing a great job. Top notch. But there is that one reporter of yours making a big stink over our proposal to increase the state income tax. He really doesn't get what we're trying to do to help our state move forward. And you know, that bill to renew your paper's subsidy is coming up next week. I'd hate to see it get bogged down in the fuss over this. Know what I mean?
Editor: Um, yes, I know, sir.
The conversation is imaginary but the possibility is real. At least, it is if the proposal of seven Connecticut state legislators were ever to be adopted. As reported at the BristolToday blog, the seven have written a letter to the state's Commissioner of Economic and Community Development asking for state "help" for two struggling local newspapers in their districts. [H/t FReeper abb.]
Remember the years of media flak President George W. Bush received for his alleged use for political gain of first the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and then the related Afghanistan and Iraq Wars?
Will the press be as vociferous now? Incoming Obama Administration Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, speaking on Wednesday on and to the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, stated outright his desire to make political hay with the ongoing travails of the U.S. and global economy:
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."
Wonder why President-elect Obama resigned from the Senate so early (while Vice President-elect Joe Biden remains an active member) and is hanging back, not wading into the debate over bailouts etc, and naming candidates for nearly every Cabinet post save Treasury (the man or woman who will have $350 billion to dispense when he/she walks through the door)?
What follows is an excerpt of my November 19 op-ed in the Washington Times. You can find the full article here.
The two stars of the recent election were Barack Obama and "mainstream media" bias. In this media climate, the terms "Republican" and "conservative" have been relegated to epithet status.
My Democratic-leaning friends argue, fairly, I think, that if the media are so biased, why have Republican presidents sat in the Oval Office for nearly 20 of the last 28 years? The answer is that while the media always play a huge role in presidential elections and their aftermaths, they don't play the only role.
Is MSNBC being rewarded for having backed Obama? That's what Jim Pinkerton suggests. On this evening's Fox News Watch, the columnist and New America Foundation fellow cited the news that GE Capital, a subsidiary of MSNBC's parent company GE, has received a $139 billion government loan guarantee.
Host Jon Scott opened this evening's show opened with a clip of Chris Matthews [in a story that NB was first to report], saying that he saw as his "job" making the Obama presidency a success. Pinkerton unloaded.
Jarrett, who hired Michelle Obama for a job in the Chicago mayor's office years ago, is one of the president-elect's closest friends and advisers. Her name has been floated for several top administration jobs. But Obama settled on the senior adviser role, said a person close to the president-elect and willing to speak only on background because the decision has not been officially announced.
A White House senior adviser can handle a range of duties. President George W. Bush's top political aide Karl Rove held the title in the current administration.
Jarrett has a background in real estate and politics in Chicago.
Less than a week after Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell said the newspaper had an "Obama tilt," we were reminded again today of the paper's institutional bias against conservatives. Two columnists, Howard Kurtz and Joe Davidson, are guilty.
Kurtz analyzes whether Sarah Palin has gone overboard in her attempt to dispel leaks from bitter McCain campaign staffers. He counters Palin's criticism of "the rumors, the speculation, even in mainstream media, that Trig wasn't actually my child." Kurtz says that's not true:
In fact, no mainstream outlet published the Internet rumors until the McCain campaign issued a statement, during the GOP convention, that Palin's teenage daughter Bristol was pregnant.
The November 12 story by staffer Michael Shear began by noting that Obama "campaigned as an anti-Washington candidate" and that his transition team "made it clear" that the president-elect "would seek to build on that theme over the next two months."
As evidence of that, Shear explained the transition team's rules "that restrict how federal lobbyists can participate" in the Obama transition. Yet Shear failed to note how the standard has shifted over the course of Obama's campaign (emphasis mine):
Barack Obama’s transition team has tapped former FCC Commissioner Henry Rivera, a longtime proponent of the so-called "Fairness Doctrine," to head the team looking for the man or woman who will soon give Democrats a 3-to-2 advantage on the Federal Communications Commission. [CORRECTION ADDED, 11/14]
It’s another troubling sign that Democrats are serious about trying to reinstate the long-defunct FCC regulation, which can more aptly be described as the "Censorship Doctrine" because of its chilling effect on free speech. In effect from 1949 to 1987, the Fairness Doctrine was an obstacle to open discussion of public policy issues on the radio; its removal in the Reagan years spawned the robust talk radio marketplace of ideas now enjoyed by millions.
While talk radio hosts often warned during the campaign that free speech could be trampled by an all-Democratic majority, the broadcast networks have failed to react to this dangerous threat to the First Amendment. A review shows the broadcast networks — whose affiliates could also be regulated — have failed to run even a single story mentioning the push for a new Fairness Doctrine.
British premier Gordon Brown, a former chancellor of the Exchequer -- analogous to the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury -- delivered a thinly-veiled entreaty to President-elect Barack Obama to eschew trade protectionism in a November 10 speech, reports Kevin Sullivan of the Washington Post Foreign Service. Post editors buried Sullivan's 18-paragraph article on page A15:
LONDON, Nov. 10 -- Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Monday warned that trade protectionism would worsen the global financial crisis, a remark widely perceived as aimed at U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.
In a speech lauding the "global power of nations working together," Brown called for "rejection of beggar-thy-neighbor protectionism that has been a feature in transforming past crises into deep recessions."
Obama's campaign rhetoric struck some allies as protectionist, particularly his calls for tax incentives to discourage companies from relocating jobs away from the United States.
Many members of the Democratic Party, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have stated their desire for a return of the so-called Fairness Doctrine, more rightly called the Censorship Doctrine for it would force conservative talk radio hosts off the air.
But no Congressional action is required to bring back the Fairness Doctrine. All the Obama Administration has to do is make one appointment to the FCC, turning a 3-2 Republican FCC majority into a 3-2 Democratic one, and it can again be reinstated. Republican Robert McDowell's term ends in June 2009.
Say what you will about President George W. Bush, but I don't recall him ever mocking an elderly widow in his pronouncements. But Barack Obama couldn't get through his first press conference as president-elect without doing just that.
Answering a question from Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times as to the presidents he has consulted during the transition, Obama took a gratuitous jab at Nancy Reagan, who was recently released from the hospital after breaking her pelvis in a fall.
BARACK OBAMA: In terms of speaking to former presidents, I've spoken to all of them that are living, obviously President Clinton--I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any séances.
Carl Cameron of FOX News reporting for the "O'Reilly Factor" took the low road yesterday in repeating rumors and gossip from unnamed staffers in the McCain camp about Sarah Palin: her knowledge, temperament, being a shopoholic, etc.
In failing to mention the names of the accusers, or input from staffers who disagree with the rumors, Cameron failed the 'fair and balanced' creed of FOX News. Plus Cameron's somewhat fevered manner in repeating the rumors, was not only surprising, but showed his lack of objectivity.
If I could be candid for a moment: Inside fighting is all to common in campaigns, I know. When my husband, Duane, ran for U.S. Congress and lost the last time we experienced the same thing from one person on his staff who, instead of pulling 100% with the candidate, turned and created dissent in the camp. The things said were untrue, and were the fruit of those who couldn't handle losing well. How do we know that this is not what is happening with these few (how many are they? we don't know, could be one instigator) McCain staffers?
Appearing on MSNBC shortly after 1 p.m. EST with anchor Andrea Mitchell, The Atlantic's Ron Brownstein rebuked House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) for drawing a legitimate criticism of President-elect Obama's choice of what he described as the "sharp-elbowed" Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) as his White House chief-of-staff (see video embedded at right, transcript is below page break).
Mitchell dismissed as "warfare" and Brownstein hit as "reflexive partisanship" Boehner's rather mild statement:
This is an ironic choice for a President-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center.
NBC political analyst Chuck Todd offered the Quote of the Day in the first few minutes of Today on Thursday, comparing incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to the legendary American generals Patton and MacArthur [audio excerpt here]:
President Clinton chose a childhood friend to be his chief-of-staff, Mack McLarty. What did that mean? That chief-of-staff never knew how to tell the President no. Never was a sort of behind-the-scenes guy. In Rahm Emanuel Obama knows he's gettingDouglas MacArthur, or General Patton. A guy who's a field general, who will keep all of the, keep everything running on time, the trains running on time and will go after Congress.
Fox News political commentator Juan Williams appeared on a panel for Tuesday's "Good Morning America" to predict that a decrease of Republicans in the Senate could actually make the legislative body more contentious and that a "hard right" minority might be reined in by a defeated John McCain.
After mentioning the possible losses of Senators Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, John Sununu of New Hampshire and Gordon Smith of Oregon, Williams asserted, "Those are moderate Republicans. And if they're gone, then, suddenly, you have a much more politicized and sort of, you know, antagonistic politics taking place in the Senate when people think, oh, this is an election where we have people coming to the middle."It's not clear who Williams is speaking of when he calls this an election about "coming to the middle." After all, Senator Barack Obama was the third most liberal senator in 2007. Secondly, John Sununu and Elizabeth Dole are not moderates. (The two have lifetime American Conservative Union Scores of 92 and 91, respectively.)
Matthew Vadum (Right) Speaking Truth to Flower PowerAs Bill Cosby said via Fat Albert and the Gang, it's like school on Saturday: No class.
NewsBusters.org Contributor, the estimable Matthew Vadum of the Capital Research Center, made an October 30th appearance on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, during which he discussed the many illegal activities of the community organizing group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and their long relationship with the media's all-time favorite candidate: Illinois Democratic Senator and Presidential candidate Barack Obama. Soon thereafter, Mr. Vadum changed his Facebook Profile photograph to one of him hamming it up with his Daily Show interlocutor John Oliver.
This was all too much for New York Times reporter Dan Mitchell. Mitchell sent Mr. Vadum a poison Halloween Facebook email, which is hostile from start to finish and in which he calls Mr. Vadum the aforementioned body part.
The Mitchell email in its entirety, with the one word redacted so as to maintain our G-rating:
In what could be seen as a disturbing sign for the future, the Barack Obama presidential campaign has blocked the Washington Times newspaper from traveling with the Democratic nominee in the final days of the election.
The ostensible reason given was a lack of space:
Times reporter Christina Bellatoni, who has covered the Democratic campaign since 2007 is being asked to leave the campaign plane starting Sunday. In defending its decision, the Obama campaign said it respected Ms. Bellatoni's reporting and simply ran out of seats on the campaign plane for the finale because of high demand. It also noted that the Obama campaign is allowing some news media critical of the democrat to travel, including Fox News.
The Media Research Center's Director of Communications and NewsBusters.org Contributing Editor Seton Motley appeared on the Fox News Channel's America's Election HQ with Megyn Kelley to discuss the Los Angeles Times refusing to release a video of Illinois Democratic Senator and Presidential nominee Barack Obama attending the apparently anti-Israel going-away party for anti-Israel professor Rashid Khalidi in April 2003.
The Times did write a story about it at the time, but recently knowledge of the tape's existence came to light and they have steadfastly refused to release it.
Motley pointed out that this is but the latest in a long list of things potentially damaging to Sen. Obama that the media has obfuscated or outright ignored in their coverage of the Presidential race, including his relationships with Khalidi, remorseless domestic terrorist William Ayers, his anti-American pastor and self-described "mentor" and "spiritual advisor" of two decades Jeremiah Wright and convicted felon Tony Rezko.
Here's a video contrast for you: Joe Biden being grilled by a professional news anchor vs. Biden being tossed a softball by a charming fifth-grader who said after his interview that the Democratic vice-presidential candidate "is now my homeboy."
Biden has refused any further interviews with Barbara West of WFTV in Orlando, Fla., or anyone else at the station, but the odds are good that he would chat at length with fifth-grader Damon Weaver any time.
Media Research Center Founder and President L. Brent Bozell, III today demanded the press report on damning new evidence of Illinois Democratic Senator and Presidential nominee Barack Obama's radical views on how we need to "break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution" because it "doesn't say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf." In tearing away from the Constitution, Sen. Obama says he seeks to achieve "social justice" through "redistributive change."
In the 2001 Chicago Public Radio interview, the audio of which has just surfaced, Sen. Obama laments that "the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society."
The media have refused to report on or obfuscated what has now become a series of comments from Sen. Obama that indicate a radical outlook on America, wealth redistribution and the courts. He famously told "Joe the Plumber" (Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher) that we need to "spread the wealth around." On his nominees for the courts, he said "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges."
Bozell acknowledges network taking responsibility for misleading viewers to believe conservatives at odds with Gov. Palin
Spreading the Word
As we reported on Tuesday, CNN's Drew Griffin completely mischaracterized the nature of a "quote" from National Review's Byron York during his interview with Alaskan Republican Governor and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
CNN has responded to the Media Research Center's call for CNN to retract the accusation that wrongly accused National Review's Byron York of calling Gov. Sarah Palin "incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt or all of the above," and have taken full responsibility for the mischaracterization.
Yesterday, the cable network addressed the mistake on both Newsroom and The Situation Room, explaining the circumstances of the badly-worded representation of the statement and clarifying reporter Drew Griffin's intention, which was not to deceive his audience that a well-respected conservative publication was putting itself at odds with Gov. Palin.
Spreading the WordAs we reported earlier, former Newsweek reporter Michael Hastings drops one rhetorical bomb after another on the media in a new article for GQ magazine. All of them reinforcing what we already knew, best summarized by Hastings himself: the press's "objectivity is a fallacy."
It has been a horrendous year for the media's credibility, and Hastings's statements only make it worse. "If (it) sounds like I had some trouble being ‘objective,' I did. Objectivity is a fallacy. In campaign reporting more than any other kind of press coverage, reporters aren't just covering a story, they're a part of it-influencing outcomes, setting expectations, framing candidates-and despite what they tell themselves, it's impossible to both be a part of the action and report on it objectively."
Hastings is utterly derisive of both former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Senator and Presidential nominee John McCain, both of whom he covered during the Republican primary. He in fact dreamed repeatedly of doing Giuliani harm as some sort of warped civic duty.
In a stunning on-air admission of his desire to re-regulate radio and infringe on free speech, Obama supporter and New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) argued recently that the so-called Fairness Doctrine -- which would mandate equal time for opposing viewpoints on radio programming -- would elevate talk radio to a "higher calling." Bingaman lamented that radio without the "Fairness Doctrine" has become less "intelligent."
MSNBC's Chris Matthews spent the first 15 minutes of the October 22 "Hardball" haranguing McCain advisor Nancy Pfotenhauer over vice presidential contender Gov. Sarah Palin's view of the role of the Vice President as President of the U.S. Senate. Matthews scoffed that Palin's answers contradict the Constitution, including her telling a 3rd grader today that the Vice President "runs the Senate" and "can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes."
But while Matthews was correct to argue that the majority leader is the real conductor of the legislative train in the upper chamber of the Congress, he was incorrect in insisting it is the Constitution which leaves the Vice President with no say in the daily affairs of the U.S. Senate other than casting tie-breaking votes.
As the U.S. Senate Web site makes clear, while the Constitution restricts the Vice President's votes to tie-breakers, in the earliest days of the Republic, Senate rules of order afforded the Vice President a greater role in the workings of the chamber as presiding officer than they do now. Indeed, at the time of its ratification, some critics worried the executive branch had too forceful a hand in the Senate's workings (emphases mine):
Spreading the WordOn yesterday's Situation Room, CNN's Drew Griffin completely mischaracterized the nature of a "quote" from National Review's Byron York during his interview with Alaskan Republican Governor and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Griffin said to Gov. Palin: "Governor, you've been mocked in the press, the press has been pretty hard on you, the Democrats have been pretty hard on you, but also some conservatives have been pretty hard on you as well. The National Review had a story saying that, you know, ‘I can't tell if Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt or all of the above.'"
This is a complete distortion, a falsehood. The full quote from the National Review's Byron York shows he was in fact dressing down the media, NOT Gov. Palin. "Watching press coverage of the Republican candidate for vice president, it's sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward, or - or, well, all of the above."
MRC President and Newsbusters.org Publisher L. Brent Bozell, III issued the following statement in response:
The Media Research Center's Director of Communications and NewsBusters.org Contributing Editor Seton Motley appeared on the Fox News Channel's Fox & Friends this morning to discuss the media's stone silence on Delaware Democratic Senator and Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden's alarming comments on Sunday: "... (M)ark my words, within the next, first six months of this administration if we win, you're gonna face a major international challenge, because they are going to want to test him...."
Alaskan Republican Governor and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin later rightly pointed during an interview on CNN that were she to have said the exact same thing, the press would have "clobbered" her.
Motley discussed all of this, and noted that a potential Barack Obama Administration would be a "call to arms" for the New Media, because in the last eighteen months the traditional media has time and again proven themselves to be utterly incapable of objectively covering the Illinois Democratic Senator.