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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


February 25, 2014

No Sneaking into Newsrooms

Harry M. Covert

Consider for a moment if Frederick's Board of County Commissioners or the City of Frederick’s aldermen decided to join the federal government and send agents, inspectors or political operatives into newsrooms of local newspapers, broadcasting houses and every online outlet.

 

“Can't happen,” most of the journalistic professionals would probably be spouting.

 

Really?

 

Remember the time not so long ago when the idea of same-sex marriages was deemed impossible?

 

Remember the time not so long ago when pot-smoking was illegal and deleterious to society?

 

Remember the times not so long ago when religious liberty was considered sacrosanct, that churches were the pillars of every community and prayer encouraged for everyone?

 

Remember the times not so long ago when the Pledge of Allegiance was repeated in every school, public and private, and no one objected?

 

So what's the point here?

 

It appears that few people, including the vast array of reporters, writers, newspaper, magazine and broadcasting owners, and other wags expressed any concern that the Federal Communication Commission )FCC), at the urging of the current national regime, was planning to send agents to the broadcasting venues.

 

Why the FCC? Well, the FCC can't jump into the printed newsrooms but can exert its authority over those using the public airwaves – radio and television stations, cable networks, and, yes, users of the Internet. The latter includes the Internet giants and those individuals and institutions that disseminate news of all sorts.

 

No way would or could that happen to newspapers? Hogwash!

 

On every level of government, the professionals, the bureaucrats and the electeds, have long worked at keeping the public ears blocked from what they do. Governments only want taxpayers and "regular" citizens to hear what they designate as good stuff. Don't be blindsided. This is the game.

 

Reporters do have a difficult time finding facts and figures, unless they are in the best interests of government. Reporters are more often than not considered pariahs to government and only to be "used." Scandals are not just the imaginations of reporters.

 

One of the best jobs in government today is being a public information officer. PIO's are well schooled in how to avoid answering any inquiring nosey news people; how to keep things out of the public domain. Listen to the press secretaries.

 

News organizations certainly differ in interpretation of the news. Listeners, viewers and readers have a right to choose favorites and how and when events are slanted or not slanted. That's freedom of the press. Thankfully, by and large, censorship is still a bad word. That's not always been the case.

 

Along the same avenue, censorship of any form is out of the question in any publication. Don't buy those publications that are offensive to any individual taste. Don't listen or watch those to whom personal beliefs find disagreeable.

 

In case the latest report out of Washington has escaped notice, the FCC on Friday past decided to put a hold on any "study" of "perceived station bias." This is a sneaky way for the government, though its agency, to creep into the news environment and cause great fear and panic.

 

Isn't that "hold" nice and soothing? If such activity is resumed, it will infect everybody in a country built on free speech, guaranteed. At present the current administration of "progressives" could benefit. If another crop of conservatives, or socialists, or tea partiers, or what-have-yous found themselves in charge, obviously they would find the "creep intos" a thrill.

 

Wouldn't be long before the threat of federal, state and local prosecutors would be finding ways to finally jail reporters, writers, editors, producers and bloggers for what's "in their hearts."

 

Americans should never forget the ill work of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

 

Governments should not be telling news organizations, or pressuring them on how to cover certain subjects.

 

The first test of this FCC plan was to begin in a few months in South Carolina. The idea of this is reprehensible. How long will the "hold" remain is not known. Hopefully the Supreme Court would put the kibosh on this. That would take a long time.

 

I couldn't imagine any local governments pursuing such conduct. Disagreeing is one thing, but freedom of the press and free speech is inviolate.

 

hmcovert@gmail.com

 



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