The Obama Administration Plans to Embed “Government Researchers” to Monitor Media Organizations

Last week, I highlighted the fact that the latest Press Freedom Index showcased a 13 point plunge in America’s press freedom to an embarrassing #46 position in the global ranking. If the authoritarians in the Obama Administration have their way, this country is set to fall much further in next year’s index.

Incredibly, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to roll out something called the Critical Information Needs study, which will embed government “researchers” into media organizations around the nation to make sure they are doing their job properly.

No this isn’t “conspiracy theory.” It is so real, and represents such a threat to the First Amendment, that a current FCC commissioner, Ajit Pai, recently wrote an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal, warning Americans of this scheme. He writes:

News organizations often disagree about what Americans need to know. MSNBC, for example, apparently believes that traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., is the crisis of our time. Fox News, on the other hand, chooses to cover the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi more heavily than other networks. The American people, for their part, disagree about what they want to watch.

But everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.

Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission, where I am a commissioner, does not agree. Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

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Revolving Door 2014: Former Head of the Federal Communications Commission Joins Carlyle

What better way to kick off 2014 than with the first (and most certainly not last) egregious example of USA banana republic revolving door crony capitalism. In this case, the crony in question is former head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Julius Genachowski, who was earlier today named Managing Director and partner in the U.S. Buyout team for private equity giant Carlyle Group. Carlyle is so giddy about its latest example of regulatory capture, they issued a glowing press release on the matter. Here are some excerpts:

Tech & Media Business Executive and Former Head of U.S. Federal Communications Commission Will Focus on Global Technology, Media and Telecom Investments

Will Help Carlyle Further Capitalize on Internet and Mobile Revolution

Washington, DC – Global alternative asset manager The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) today named Julius Genachowski a Managing Director and partner in the U.S. Buyout team. He will focus on investments in global technology, media and telecom, including Internet and mobile. Mr. Genachowski is returning to the private sector after serving as Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for four years, departing last May. He is an accomplished leader and expert in technology, media and telecom and brings to Carlyle almost 20 years of experience in the space. Mr. Genachowski joins Carlyle today and will be based in Washington, DC.

Since leaving the FCC, Mr. Genachowski has taught a joint class at Harvard’s Business and Law Schools, and served as a Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute, the non-partisan education and policy organization. Over the course of his career, he has been a Special Adviser at General Atlantic, a board member and advisor to several public and private companies, and a law clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

Since inception, Carlyle has deployed on a global basis more than $18 billion in equity in investments in the technology, media and telecom sectors. Investments include Syniverse Technologies, Nielsen, Dex Media, AMC Entertainment, Insight Communications, CommScope and SS&C Technologies.

Congrats Mr. Genachowski, this is your big payday. There is no quicker route to success in the USSA than to go into “public service” regulating a massive industry and then flip back over to engage in M&A in the exact industry you were in charge of regulating. Congrats on the several months in which you pretended to be a professor.

In the past couple of years I have highlighted several instances of revolving door cronyism including:

In Journalism.
In Defense.
In Law Enforcement.
In Finance here,herehere and here.

Thanks for playing serfs.

Full press release here.

In Liberty,
Mike

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FCC Rule Change Would Favor Big Media

Here we go; more centralization, consolidation, and corruption as America barrels its way toward serfdom.  The best part of this saga is that Obama was one of the most vocal Senators against such rule changes when George W. Bush was in office, but not a peep from him now.  Bernie Sanders (Vermont Senator) and Michael Copps (FCC commissioner from 2001 to 2011) wrote an excellent Op Ed in Politico.  Here are excerpts:

A cornerstone of American democracy is a free and open press providing diverse viewpoints. As Thomas Jefferson said in 1823, “The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted to be freely expressed.” In America today, however, a trend toward corporate media consolidation is drowning diverse opinions and eliminating local control.  In 1983, 90 percent of the American media was owned by 50 companies. Today, 90 percent is controlled by just six corporations: General Electric, News Corp., Disney, Viacom, Time Warner and CBS.

The Federal Communications Commission may be on the verge of making a bad situation worse. It is considering a rule change that would clear the way for even more media consolidation. All Americans should be deeply concerned.

The failed 2007 bid to change the rules came after a similar 2003 effort to weaken the limits on cross-ownership that prevented a handful of media conglomerates from completely dominating ownership of the news outlets in our communities. Those proposals met with 3 million public comments, 99 percent of which opposed the FCC’s proposal.

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