The Obama Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is spending your tax dollars to come after the First Amendment rights of America’s news reporters. It all began last year as a “study” that snoops around newsrooms asking invasive questions about news coverage decisions. It’s chilling and it needs to stop.
The FCC has already spent $208,000 on this, and press reports indicate it could have eventually cost over $917,000. Some of the questions the FCC proposed asking reporters include, “What is the news philosophy of the station?” “Who decides which stories are covered?” “How much influence do you have in deciding which stories to cover?” “Have you ever suggested coverage of what you consider a story with critical information for your customers (viewers, listeners, readers) that was rejected by management? If so, can you give an example? What was the reason given for the decision? Why do you disagree?”
As someone with a journalism degree who worked to finally get the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” off the books, I’m deeply suspect regarding this government intrusion into our freedom of speech rights as Americans. In December, I led an effort to blow the whistle and send a letter to the FCC to tell them to end it. The FCC Chairman has agreed to suspend the study—for now. But that isn’t enough. It needs to be eradicated completely.
The Communications and Technology panel that I chair will soon hold a hearing on this issue and I’m drafting legislation to spike this study once and for all.
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This won’t be easy. It took nearly 25 years to get the “Fairness Doctrine” off the books once it had been “eliminated” in 1987—an effort I helped lead in 2011. But we must do what we can to preserve the Constitution.
Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” I couldn’t agree more, which is why I’ll continue to work to preserve our First Amendment freedoms.
It’s an honor to represent you in the U.S. Congress.