Robert Knight

Speaking of seizing power over the Internet, Obama’s FCC issued Net Neutrality rules for the Internet in December despite Congress refusing to grant that authority and a federal court saying the same in the NBC/Comcast merger case. Legally speaking, the FCC has as much clout over the Internet as it has over catfish farms – zero. But they went ahead anyway, thumbing their noses at the Constitution’s separation of powers.

However, elections have consequences. And some of the shoe is now on the other foot. That’s why the newly constituted House of Representatives will soon hold hearings and votes on the FCC’s illegal action. They also will examine other executive branch abuses (i.e., EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s megalomaniacal, anti-carbon witch hunt).

The FCC additionally has “diversity czar” and Associate General Counsel Mark Lloyd concocting regulations designed to strangle conservative talk radio. Since the public is on to the dangers of re-imposing the Fairness Doctrine, which had hushed talk radio until the FCC abandoned the policy in 1987, Lloyd wants to re-impose it piecemeal. We know this because as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP), Lloyd co-wrote a June 2007 report with authors from another leftwing group, the Free Press, entitled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio.”

The Free Press was co-founded by avowed Marxist Robert McChesney and had fellow communist Van Jones on its board until he resigned in 2008. As Accuracy in Media reports: “In an article in the socialist Monthly Review, ‘Journalism, Democracy, and Class Struggle,’ Chesney declared, ‘Our job is to make media reform part of our broader struggle for democracy, social justice, and, dare we say it, socialism.’”

Since it’s clear that the public would hate any revival of the Fairness Doctrine, the report recommends a back-door approach to increase “localism” and “diversity” of ownership and content. The boldface headers below are verbatim from the report.

1) Restore local and national caps on ownership of commercial radio stations (p. 9). This would effectively break up the companies that provide nationally syndicated programs with such hosts as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin.

2) Ensure greater local accountability over radio licensing (p. 10). The report recommends limiting licenses to only three years, and forcing station owners to face community monitoring boards. Imagine these panels stacked with “community organizers” from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

3) Require commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations to pay a fee to support public broadcasting (p. 11). Even though National Public Radio’s 860 stations are partially tax-supported and claim a total weekly audience of 26 million, the report says some private sector stations would have to pay for more public radio.

So, let’s recap. A “first ever” Presidential alert will be delivered by all major broadcast and cable media. A presidential “kill switch” is proposed for the Internet. The FCC has imposed Net Neutrality rules on an industry over which it has no authority. And a “diversity czar” at the FCC is making up rules to cripple conservative talk radio.

Given this pattern, we might want to revisit the late rocker Frank Zappa’s view when he was asked about what he thought of the U.S. government:

“I think they’re trying to take over the country.”


Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.