When I first read this story I wasn’t sure whether to highlight it or not. While the claims made by Federal Elections Committee (FEC) Chairman Lee E. Goodman are extraordinarily frightening, sometimes people with strong partisan leanings can exaggerate threats and so I like to be careful. I’m not certain if this is the case with Mr. Goodman, but since it is his word against other folks at the FEC and I don’t work there, it’s hard to know what the true state of affairs is.
Nevertheless, the fact that Ajit Pai, a commissioner at the FCC, recently warned in a Wall Street Journal editorial of government plans to “monitor” media organizations, makes me concerned enough to post on it. I highlighted the Ajit Pai editorial back in February in my post: The Obama Administration Plans to Embed “Government Researchers” to Monitor Media Organizations.
As far as the Goodman comments, The Washington Examiner reports that:
Government officials, reacting to the growing voice of conservative news outlets, especially on the internet, are angling to curtail the media’s exemption from federal election laws governing political organizations, a potentially chilling intervention that the chairman of the Federal Election Commission is vowing to fight.
“I think that there are impulses in the government every day to second guess and look into the editorial decisions of conservative publishers,” warned Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee E. Goodman in an interview.
“The right has begun to break the left’s media monopoly, particularly through new media outlets like the internet, and I sense that some on the left are starting to rethink the breadth of the media exemption and internet communications,” he added.
Noting the success of sites like the Drudge Report, Goodman said that protecting conservative media, especially those on the internet, “matters to me because I see the future going to the democratization of media largely through the internet. They can compete with the big boys now, and I have seen storm clouds that the second you start to regulate them, there is at least the possibility or indeed proclivity for selective enforcement, so we need to keep the media free and the internet free.”
“The picking and choosing has started to occur,” said Goodman. “There are some in this building that think we can actually regulate” media, added Goodman, a Republican whose chairmanship lasts through December. And if that occurs, he said, “then I am concerned about disparate treatment of conservative media.”
The main issue I have with Mr. Goodman’s comments is that he frames them in a very partisan manner. Sure, I don’t doubt that the current state of affairs might have the FEC concerned about the threat posed by conservative media, but in ten years who knows, it could be the reverse. The key here is that media, in particular the internet, must be kept free and open. The internet is what allows an individual like me, armed with only a computer and an internet connection, to reach thousands of people per day on a shoestring budget. This is a revolution in humankind and must be preserved at all costs.
Full article here.
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