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The Obama Administration Plans to Embed “Government Researchers” to Monitor Media Organizations | A Lightning War for Liberty

The Obama Administration Plans to Embed “Government Researchers” to Monitor Media Organizations | A Lightning War for Liberty.

Last week, I highlighted the fact that the latest Press Freedom Index showcased a 13 point plunge in America’s press freedom to an embarrassing #46 position in the global ranking. If the authoritarians in the Obama Administration have their way, this country is set to fall much further in next year’s index.

Incredibly, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to roll out something called the Critical Information Needs study, which will embed government “researchers” into media organizations around the nation to make sure they are doing their job properly.

No this isn’t “conspiracy theory.” It is so real, and represents such a threat to the First Amendment, that a current FCC commissioner, Ajit Pai, recently wrote an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal, warning Americans of this scheme. He writes:

News organizations often disagree about what Americans need to know. MSNBC, for example, apparently believes that traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., is the crisis of our time. Fox News, on the other hand, chooses to cover the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi more heavily than other networks. The American people, for their part, disagree about what they want to watch.

But everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.

Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission, where I am a commissioner, does not agree. 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.”

I have no idea what country I am living in at this point.

How does the FCC plan to dig up all that information? First, the agency selected eight categories of “critical information” such as the “environment” and “economic opportunities,” that it believes local newscasters should cover. It plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their “news philosophy” and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information.

Participation in the Critical Information Needs study is voluntary—in theory. Unlike the opinion surveys that Americans see on a daily basis and either answer or not, as they wish, the FCC’s queries may be hard for the broadcasters to ignore. They would be out of business without an FCC license, which must be renewed every eight years.

Should all stations follow MSNBC’s example and cut away from a discussion with a former congresswoman about the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records to offer live coverage of Justin Bieber‘s bond hearing? As a consumer of news, I have an opinion. But my opinion shouldn’t matter more than anyone else’s merely because I happen to work at the FCC.

I am simply speechless.

Read the full Op-Ed here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

U.S. Plunges to #46 in World Press Freedom Index, Below Romania and Just Above Haiti | A Lightning War for Liberty

U.S. Plunges to #46 in World Press Freedom Index, Below Romania and Just Above Haiti | A Lightning War for Liberty.

One of my most popular posts of 2013 highlighted the decline of America’s once large and enviable middle class. It was titled: How Does America’s Middle Class Rank Globally? #27, and it helped to dispel many myths Americans (particularly the mainstream propaganda media) continue to tell to themselves.

As you might expect, the economic decline of a nation into rule by a handful of corrupt oligarchs will have many other negative repercussions. One of these is a loss of civil rights and freedoms that many of us have taken for granted. Reporters Without Borders puts out their Press Freedom Index every year, and the 2014 ranking came out today. It was not a good showing for the USSA. Specifically, the U.S. registered one of the steepest falls of all nations, down 13 slots to the #46 position. As the screen shot shows, just above Haiti and just below Romania.

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 9.39.13 AM

More coverage from the AFP:

Paris (AFP) – Conflicts continued to weigh heavily on the media last year but press freedom was also under increasing threat from abuses by democracies like the United States, Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday.

In its annual World Press Freedom Index, the Paris-based media rights watchdog warned of the “growing threat worldwide” from the “tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner”.

The United States was singled out for its pursuit of intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, the conviction of WikiLeaks informer Bradley Manning and the secret seizure of phone records from the Associated Press.

The group, known by its French acronym RSF, said the United States had suffered “one of the most significant declines” in press freedom last year, dropping 13 places to 46th in the 180-country index, wedged between Romania and Haiti.

“Countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it,” RSF said.

Repeat after me: USA! USA!

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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