Despite congressional opposition, the Federal Communications Commission plans to send researchers to oversee TV and radio newsrooms, casting what promises to be a chill on freedom of the press.
When House Republicans got wind of the plan in December, they sent a letter to the FCC, according to The Hill.
“Given the widespread calls for the Commission to respect the First Amendment and stay out of the editorial decisions of reporters and broadcasters, we were shocked to see that the FCC is putting itself back in the business of attempting to control the political speech of journalists,” the Republicans wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “It is wrong, it is unconstitutional, and we urge you to put a stop to this most recent attempt to engage the FCC as the ‘news police.'”
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, informed the public that as of last week, the agency’s plans were still very much in the works. He said:
Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.
The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”
Journalists are now up in arms. The last thing a newsroom needs is a Soviet-style political officer looking over the shoulders of reporters and editors, and helping them shape the news to the Obama administration’s liking.
If FCC officials want to learn how stories are selected, they can go to journalism school. Otherwise, stay out of the newsroom.
The agency’s infiltration of the reporting process defeats the purpose of a free and independent press — to serve as a check to an overreaching government.
Townhall Editor Katie Pavlich appeared on “The Kelly File” Wednesday and discussed the latest developments of this story with Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
Watch the exchange via Fox News, then check out, “TV newsman’s dead-on, hilarious video: Why ‘Republicans Are Winning the PR Battle Over Obamacare’.”
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