Always the smooth operator, Obama is urging the American people to tune out other voices and listen only to the sound of their dear leader's voice. He bemoans the growth of new media during his commencement address at Hampton University in Virginia: "You're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank all that high on the truth meter.With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.All of this is not only putting new pressures on you, it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy."
It is less than slightly ironic to hear our Blackberry-toting president proclaim he is unable to operate modern technology, but the content of his new media criticism is downright chilling. Obama's political career has been built on a narrative that he and his close associates carefully crafted. The only biographical information we know about the president comes from his two autobiographies, both of which contain large embellishments and historical inaccuracies. These inaccuracies were virtually censored in the formerly dominant old media. Only the new media have dared to challenge Obama's narrative.
Obama laments the role cable news plays in the political discourse because they dare discuss issues he doesn't want covered. This would be an interesting academic topic, were it not for attempts by his underlings to restrict the flow of information on the Internet and over the airwaves. While he demonizes blogs, talk radio and cable news, his czars and his recent Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, are perfectly comfortable with the idea of the U.S. government restricting free speech.
Free-flowing information is a vital part of any free society. If the public is unable to get information unfiltered by the government they will never hear a fair and open debate.
Obama wants to withhold conflicting versions of the public narrative from the American people, and the old-line media are willingly going along with Obama's desires. Were it not for alternative sources of media such as blogs, talk radio and cable news, Obama and his radical friends wouldn't have to defend their agenda. That's why team Obama is seeking to restrict these alternative forms of media. Obama's recent attack on new media is part of a strategic assault on free speech.
Susan Crawford, Obama's former Internet czar, has been pushing tirelessly for so-called "net neutrality," which if made into law will transform the Internet and ultimately give the government power to regulate content. Despite its high-sounding name, "net neutrality" is nothing but another government regulation that will inevitably have unintended consequences that could reach into every individual's home connection. Proponents of neutrality should be more concerned with government intrusion than with any limitations imposed by the marketplace. As Timothy B. Lee of the Cato Institute has stated, the regulation inherent in "net neutrality" is not needed because "network owners are likely to find deviations from the end-to-end principle unprofitable."
Efforts to regulate the Internet, coupled with the efforts of FCC Associate General Counsel and Chief Diversity Officer Mark Lloyd to silence talk radio, constitute two grave threats to free speech and access to independent ideas. Lloyd believes the most effective method for controlling talk radio is through local and racially diverse media ownership requirements which could effectively force ownership changes at many conservative talk and Christian radio stations.
The final part of this triple threat to speech is Elena Kagan, Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court. Kagan, in one of her few public statements on any issue, stated in the University of Chicago Law Review: "If there is an 'overabundance' of an idea in the absence of direct governmental action -- which there well might be when compared with some ideal state of public debate -- then action disfavoring that idea might 'un-skew,' rather than skew, public discourse." So in Kagan's view the government can determine what the ideal level and content of free speech and public debate is, and it can regulate or block anything above that level. Under this view Obama's own administration could determine that there is too much criticism of him and regulate the offending media outlets.
Obama's assault on free speech is threatening the very core of our Republic. If the government can silence its critics, the American people may never know the truth. Blogs, talk radio, and cable are an integral part of our democracy. Patriotic Americans must stand up and defend the right to consume and disseminate unfiltered information.
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