Brent Bozell

FCC Chairman Michael Powell is getting set to be royally humiliated.

After announcing his intention to allow the powerful television networks to increase their market ownership share from 35 percent to 45 percent, there was an outpouring of opposition. Dozens of organizations, ranging from NOW to the NRA came forward to criticize the planned power grab. An arrogant Powell ignored them all, and over the additional protests of the two Democratic commissioners, rammed through an expansion of the networks' control over the airwaves.

Powell underestimated his opposition.

After some 70 high-priced industry lobbyists reportedly descended on Congress, and word went out from the GOP leadership that all Republicans were dutifully to support the Powell caper, something very odd -- and so refreshing! -- happened. Members of both parties put aside partisan politics and came together in an appropriations bill to stop the giveaway by an unmissable 400-21 margin.

In the Senate the sentiment is the same. Though the White House has threatened a veto, numerous Republicans, like Trent Lott (MS) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (TX) have already announced their intentions to roll back Powell's move in September.

You would think that Powell would have learned a thing or two about pragmatic politics from his old man, but the arrogance of this man seems boundless. He's now taken to the New York Times to push his agenda, and it was in that paper's op-ed pages that he penned this brand-new line: "Much of the pressure to restrict ownership, I fear, is motivated… by a desire to affect content. And some proposals to reduce concentration (of media ownership) risk having government promote or suppress particular viewpoints."

Those are the words of a scoundrel. C-E-N-S-O-R-S-H-I-P. The inference is all over that statement, and one wonders why Powell didn't just come out and say it. But we know why he didn't say it. This Clintonian scare tactic has no basis in fact. North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan dismissed the charge as "absurd," stating, "I have no idea what he had for breakfast before he wrote that."

Powell's wordsmithing is too cute by half. The content of programming is a factor (among others) in the ownership debate, but this is not equivalent to Powell's accusation that it is government -- or any other entity -- that would "promote or suppress particular viewpoints."


Brent Bozell

Founder and President of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell runs the largest media watchdog organization in America.
 
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