By Adam Bitely -
This week may prove to be the most important week for free speech the nation has ever seen. With a three-way assault being waged on our First Amendment rights, it is little surprise that the Obama administration would use the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Elections Commission to regulate free speech. After all, the Obama administration has made it clear that if you speak out against their agenda, you are an enemy of “progress”.
Let’s start with the FTC. This morning, the FTC will hold a public forum in Washington D.C. to discuss the findings of their commission that is tasked with discovering how to make the news reporting business profitable again. This is no short order, as dinosaur news organizations such as the New York Times have lost extreme amounts of readership. But as most outside of D.C. know all too well, bailouts don’t work and lead to companies that peddle government-influenced junk to appease their financiers.
Instead of allowing the market to work its magic, the FTC seems to believe that government intervention can remedy the decisions made by consumers who moved away from the news organizations of the past. In their opinion, they can “bail out” the nearly dead news agencies with ideas such as an Ipad tax to subsidize the nearly forgotten news agencies.
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission will hold an open meeting to discuss Net Neutrality. After the FCC was dealt a set-back in the recent Comcast Corp. v. FCC decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the FCC will be considering other options to enforce regulations on Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) known as Net Neutrality.
The FCC, in its announcement of the meeting, mentions two possibilities for the regulations, while jokingly inserting what they refer to as a “third way” that would result in no regulations, leaving the Internet alone as it currently stands. The FCC is attempting to lump ISP’s under archaic regulations that were passed for the telecommunications industry decades earlier. If the FCC succeeds with this effort, they will be able to control your ISP. This will result in a regulated Internet, raising costs for consumers and regulation of the content that consumer’s access.
Include all of the above with legislation that is expected to hit the Senate floor later in the week. This next assault on free speech will be introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Schumer has proposed what he is calling the DISCLOSE Act, which would empower the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to regulate political commentary. Curiously, Labor Unions and traditional news outlets are exempted from this legislation. Which leads one to wonder what the purpose of the bill actually is? Well, according to the AFL-CIO’s Josh Goldstein, who supports the legislation “… the final bill should treat corporations different than Democratic organizations such as unions.”
Taken together, these are flagrant assaults on free speech and press.
Government officials in Washington, D.C. want the public to believe that they can fix the traditional news media organizations that are failing with the flick of a magic wand. One has to wonder if their true objective is to create a national state-run media. These same Obama officials would have the power to compete unfairly with media outlets with which they disagree.
A bailout of news organizations will prove to be far more dangerous than anyone can even comprehend. If any news media organization is bailed out, the independence that a credible news organization should have from its stories to provide honest journalism will be lost. News organizations that are the recipients of a “bailout” will be in a tough spot when covering anything that casts the government or a particularly supportive politician in an unfavorable light. The “bailout” cash will have strings attached that will further discredit and ruin news organizations that are already zombies.
By forcing bloggers to disclose their connections with political operations, the Obama administration and Congress are making a blatant move to keep an eye on and potentially coerce the very people that their newspaper/national media investments are in direct competition with.
The administration has proven where it stands on this matter. When it comes to free speech, only those that agree with their agenda should be permitted to freely exercise freedom of speech guaranteed to all under the First Amendment. The administration has shown all Americans that they will go to any length to expand their regulatory powers to ban speech that they deem as inappropriate while protecting their supporters and allied organizations.
If the DISCLOSE Act comes to pass and the FTC moves forward with rescuing the newspaper industry, while the FCC grabs the reins of the Internet, the First Amendment will have been shredded and those supposed defenders of the Fourth Estate will be wholly-owned subsidiaries of the very government they are supposed to monitor.
Adam Bitely is the Editor-In-Chief of NetRightDaily.com.