Barack Obama’s FCC Information Police
By Chuck Rogér
The President warns us that Americans must beware of “the craziest claims” and “arguments” in which “information becomes a distraction” that puts “pressures” on “our democracy.” What was behind Barack Obama’s recent remarks to the graduating class of Hampton University? What “information” must Americans fear?
FCC Chief Diversity Officer Mark Lloyd foretold Obama’s meaning in a coauthored 2007 Center for American Progress (CAP) report. The report complained that 91 percent of talk radio was conservative and praised the “more balanced” programming “in markets such as New York and Chicago.” The deep blue demographics of two of the bluest American cities betray a deceitful usage of the term “more balanced.”
To further corrupt the meaning of “balance,” even after admitting that “no matter how the data is analyzed” conservative talk dominates “over and over again,” the CAP report implied that talk radio balance means half conservative, half progressive programming. This is instructive. Although twice as many Americans self-identify as conservative versus liberal, the liberal meaning of balance mutates from allotment according to real-life proportions to equal market share. Armed with any redefinitions required, FCC Chief Diversity Officer Lloyd is now in a position to rebalance political talk radio.
To understand how “balance” could be achieved, we refer again to President Obama’s warning that Hampton graduates must avoid information that becomes distracting. Precisely how can one recognize distracting information? A clue lies in the CAP report’s insistence that broadcast companies serve “the listening needs of all Americans.” The key word is “needs.” Liberals assume that people should need only the information that liberals want people to have. Other information constitutes “distraction.”
But when huge majorities of customers support existing talk radio programming, there exists only imaginary distraction. Only the most microscopic gap could exist between demand and supply. Such unpleasantness doesn’t faze progressive know-it-alls unable to accept that customers recoil from force-fed progressive talk.
Undeterred, Lloyd and the other coauthors of the 2007 CAP report recommended a force-feeding technique that requires “diversity” in radio station ownership in order to inflict repeatedly rejected progressive viewpoints on the people. As I reported last August, diversity would be achieved through three actions.
1) Legal discrimination: “caps” on the proportions of various types of people who can own stations.2) “Greater local accountability over radio licensing.”3) Forcing broadcasters not meeting “public interest obligations” to fund public broadcasting. Stations would have to do what liberals say or else pay to be ridiculed by liberals on competitor stations.
With fixes for talk radio “imbalance” in place, high-minded government bureaucrats would be well on the way to addressing the high consumer preference for conservative shows over progressive shows. But the high preference points out a truth that won’t go away: Emotionally healthy Americans embrace wholesome values, self-reliance, small government, traditional America, and a traditional family structure. Just more antagonistic reality to taunt progressives who seem hell-bent on imposing progressive radio on traditional Americans.
To bolster the imposition, Mark Lloyd and company didn’t stop at three recommendations. The CAP report called for the public to have a periodic say in whether licensed broadcast companies should be allowed to continue to broadcast. Such meddling would be akin to the feds controlling people’s earnings, restricting government contracts to unionized companies, ordering financial institutions to lend to specific borrowers, or giving preference to certain people for entry into jobs or schools. Decades ago, the intrusions into free markets wouldn’t have been tolerated. Today, interference is common.
Interference is about to be turbo-charged. Three years after private citizen Lloyd proposed that government force progressive radio programming into conservative markets, the FCC where Lloyd now works appears poised to consider the Diversity Czar’s force-feeding recommendations. The agency has launched “an examination of the future of media and the information needs of communities in a digital age.” Media “diversity” plays a role in “examination.” The FCC explains:
The objective of this review is to assess whether all Americans have access to vibrant, diverse sources of news and information that will enable them to enrich their lives, their communities and our democracy.The Future of Media project will produce a report providing a clear, precise assessment of the current media landscape, analyze policy options and, as appropriate, make policy recommendations to the FCC, other government entities, and other parties.
The statement reads like a rehash of the Lloyd-and-company Center for American Progress report. In order to soothe Obama’s worries over excess “information,” after the FCC “examine[s]” the “information needs of communities,” it’s a safe bet that the agency will recommend regulating information flow into said communities. The FCC’s wording runs faithfully parallel to Obama’s wording:
The digital age is creating an information and communications renaissance. But it is not serving all Americans and their local communities equally. It is not yet serving democracy fully.
Witness the creation of yet another contrived “right” — the right of all members of all communities to equal access to all communications media. Also, it’s impossible to ignore Obama’s and the FCC’s misleading use of the term “democracy” to depict America’s representative democratic republic. Exactly what does the “communications renaissance… serving democracy fully” mean? The FCC may have in mind the public’s participation in station licensing as proposed by Lloyd in 2007. America could be headed into a state of affairs in which popular vote determines who can operate private sector radio stations. Voters could be “nudged” in specific directions using specific government freebies funneled into specific communities.
Another factor motivating Obama administration focus on information flow is the demise of the massively liberal “dinosaur” media — mainly newspapers and broadcast TV. Stir in the downward spiral of liberal cable news outlets like MSNBC as well as the embarrassing face-plant of progressive talk radio’s Air America, and it becomes clear why Obama and the FCC are nervous. Nerves are frying over how “the layoff of thousands of journalists” might result in “fewer ‘informed communities.'” As liberal-dominated media continue to atrophy, progressive propaganda will less reliably reach communities that get progressive “helping” programs that convince voters to elect progressives to keep the help flowing.
Losing the iron grip that progressives have on “oppressed” and “disadvantaged” American voters is not something that Barack Obama can bear. Media filters must be tightened. According to the President, only certain “information” should reach the people. Perhaps soon, the noble FCC will save Americans from bad information, the information that “has become a distraction.”