"MEDIA REFORM" TARGETS CONSERVATIVES
By Cliff Kincaid
Led by a Muslim Democrat, members of the Federal Communications Commission, and Bill Moyers, Phil Donahue, and Dan Rather, a well-funded campaign to move the media in a more left-wing direction will gather in Minneapolis from June 6-8. Thousands of “progressive” activists are expected to attend. Accuracy in Media will cover the event.
Moyers recently achieved notoriety for using his public television program to give a national platform to Barack Obama’s controversial former pastor Jeremiah Wright, while Donahue, who began his career as a tabloid TV talk-show host, recently completed an anti-Iraq War film. Donahue and his former MSNBC sidekick, Jeff Cohen, the founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting who is now a university professor, continue to travel around the country insisting that the media are too right-wing.
Dan Rather, of course, is the disgraced former CBS Evening News anchorman who used phony documents in an effort to smear President Bush before the 2004 election. He left CBS News and sued the network after this debacle, claiming he was treated unfairly. Rather now anchors “Dan Rather Reports” on a little-watched cable channel, HDNet.
Ironically, Rather is appearing on a panel at the National Conference for Media Reform that is supposed to unveil a “Big Media Hall of Shame.” Presumably, the inductees will be conservative media voices.
At the opening session of the conference, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Mn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress, will discuss the “opportunity to wrest control of media access and distribution from the few to the many,” according to the official conference program. This is liberal doublespeak for using the power of the federal government to hand over more media properties to liberals.
However, as the Moyers example suggests, they already have access, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayers, to 350 television stations affiliated with the Public Broadcasting Service. The 860 stations affiliated with National Public Radio are also regarded as reliable outlets for liberal or “progressive” opinion. Pacifica Radio, an openly “progressive” radio network, includes five stations owned by the Pacifica Foundation, one associate station, and 132 affiliates. Pacifica has also received taxpayer funding.
In addition, they have MSNBC, the evening news programs of the three broadcasting networks, and most of the national press.
In Minneapolis, the conference has the support of AM 950, KNTF, “The Voice of Minnesota,” which is a home for Air America Radio, the liberal network that went through bankruptcy and was bailed out by a wealthy liberal family that includes former Democratic politician Mark Green.
But this is not enough media control and reach to satisfy them. The “progressives” are angry that since the deregulation of the media, beginning in the 1980s, the liberal media monopoly has been challenged and that talk radio and cable news have found that there is a receptive audience for conservative programming.
In order to counter this conservative trend, “progressive” groups have proposed to stop the process of media deregulation, which included the FCC’s decision to abolish the Fairness Doctrine, and force broadcasters to limit or even eliminate airtime for conservatives and put more left-wingers on the air.
As AIM has documented in the book, “The Death of Talk Radio?,” and in a TV advertisement, the movement to control the content of the media is a real danger to the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. But the Broadcaster Freedom Act, which would stop the return of the Fairness Doctrine, is being bottled up by congressional liberals, who don’t want it to come up for a vote.
As a result, if Obama captures the White House and gets the opportunity to appoint the FCC chairman, liberals would then have a 3-2 majority capable of bringing back the Fairness Doctrine through administrative action, without the need for congressional approval. A new Fairness Doctrine could be challenged in the courts but the U.S. Supreme Court previously upheld it. In the meantime, as court battles proceed, conservatives could be forced off the air by liberal FCC bureaucrats exercising arbitrary power in the name of fairness.
The potential danger has already been dramatized by the coordinated effort of the radical Muslim group CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) to force conservative broadcaster Michael Savage off the air through an advertiser boycott. With a federal Fairness Doctrine in place, these groups could go straight to the FCC with their complaints and get bureaucrats to fine, punish or revoke the licenses of conservative broadcasters. Conservative complaints about liberal media bias would, of course, be dismissed out of hand.
Ominously, one of the featured speakers at the National Conference for Media Reform is Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), a prominent opponent of media deregulation who backs Barack Obama for president. Dorgan wants more FCC oversight over and control of the media.
Equally serious, a session on “Standing Up Against Hate Speech” in the media will feature Mark Kappelhoff, Chief of the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and representatives of various Hispanic and civil rights organizations. Their task will be, according to the conference program, to use the “verifiable data that links hate speech to hate crimes” and come up with “strategies and solutions” to muzzle or remove offending radio and TV hosts and programs from the air. They usually define “hate speech” as being commentary or news coverage that is critical of illegal aliens or minority groups. Indeed, the term “illegal alien” is even considered to be offensive.
Of particular interest is the panel, “Media Policy in a New Congress and Administration,” featuring two members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J. Copps, with comments also from Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.). Doyle was among the liberal politicians who erroneously accused conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh in a piece of legislation (H. Con. Res. 221) of calling combat troops opposed to the Iraq War “phony soldiers.” The bill reflects the intent of liberal legislators to monitor and control the content of what is said on the air.
“Holding local broadcast stations accountable at the FCC” is the name of another panel at the Minneapolis conference.
In one of the most bizarre panels and workshops, “Owning Our Own and Reaching the Masses,” somebody who goes by the name “stic.man” of a hip-hop group called “dead prez” is one of the listed speakers. One of the group’s songs is titled, “Revolutionary But Gangsta,” and their website features an obscene gesture. Stic.man is supposed to be an expert on the dangers of “corporate media.”
Randall Pinkston of CBS News will be appearing on a panel devoted to how the FCC can “put consumer and citizen interests first,” while another session is on “Purple Politics Coverage of LGBT Issues in the Media.” LGBT refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. One of the panel members is from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which exists to silence criticism of the homosexual lifestyle in the media.
Some of the financial support for the conference is being concealed under a reference in the conference guide to anonymous “public charities, private foundations and individual donors,” but in the past the event has been generously subsidized by the Open Society Institute of leftist billionaire George Soros, another Obama supporter.
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This year, the official conference sponsor, known as the “Free Press,” acknowledges funders that include the Wallace Global Fund, an entity named after Henry A. Wallace, the “progressive” former vice-president under FDR who was dumped from the ticket and was ostracized even by Democrats at the time for his pro-communist views.
The 2007 National Conference for Media Reform, also covered by Accuracy in Media, included members of the Revolutionary Communist party and other Marxist groups.
© 2008 Cliff Kincaid - All Rights Reserved