Accuracy in Media

Americans are in for some “change” they won’t believe in as the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats prepare to reinstall the Fairness Doctrine, argues one author. If they are successful, the First Amendment as we know it in America will no longer exist. Brad O’Leary, the publisher of the O’Leary Report and author of Shut Up, America! The End of Free Speech spoke about this contentious issue at the Heritage Foundation on June 24, 2009.

O’Leary argued that American newspapers are “totally and completely biased” in their coverage of President Obama, even to the point of being “fraudulent.” Other sources of news information, such as talk radio and the internet, have been crucial in providing alternative viewpoints, but that could change soon if Congress regulates these media.

“What we see today in Congress for the first time [are] bills being introduced to bring a ‘fairness’ doctrine to the internet.” O’Leary said. Legislation is also forcing talk radio in to a trend O’Leary refers to as “localism,” or talking exclusively about local issues.

Diversity of ownership of talk radio is also being pushed by Fairness Doctrine advocates. “The [demographic] of the radio station will have a lot to do with whether or not your license is renewed,” O’Leary said.

Proponents of the Fairness Doctrine also want to shorten the length of time for talk radio stations to have their licenses renewed. O’Leary argued that this would give government bureaucrats the opportunity to hold “ACORN-like hearings” that would have the authority to close stations based solely on the content of their programming.

“Those of you that think you can beat this in Congress, forget about it,” O’Leary said. He pointed out that it was the Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), not members of Congress who did away with the Fairness Doctrine under Reagan. “To put the Fairness Doctrine back, all they need is a new Chairman of the FCC to eventually put it back,” he said.

President Obama recently appointed Cass Sunstein to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a position involving the regulation of the internet. “If there were ever a national emergency, and that could be anything from a terrorist attack to too many TEA parties, then that ‘internet czar’ would [have] complete control of the internet,” O’Leary said.

Former Harvard University Professor Sunstein has advocated the creation of “public spaces on the internet and media” and finds the ability of individuals to create “an informational or communications universe of [their] own choosing” to be a “problem from the standpoint of the first amendment, not a solution.”

“One question is whether a great deal can be done privately, not publicly, and two little ideas with respect to private solutions may be encouraged through moral suasion or something else by the FCC involve linking behavior and deliberative force,” he said at last year’s American University College of Law Conference, “Does the Red Lion Still Roar?”

Zogby International, in conjunction with the O’Leary Report, conducted a survey of over 2,000 Obama voters in April 2009. “The Huffington Post and the New York Times cannot stand the answers,” O’Leary said, because the results show that President Obama is “losing support.”

The poll revealed that a significant percentage of Obama voters do not see eye to eye with the President on issues such as gun control, the economy, and constitutional rights. The results of the poll can be found in the June 2009 edition of The O’Leary Report.

O’Leary said that the Obama’s recent criticism of Fox News reveals a troublesome “way of thinking,” and argued that the Obama administration’s policies will prove to be a slippery slope. “They believe that … the broadcast station doesn’t belong to the people, they believe it belongs to the Government,” he said.

“[Senator Charles] Schumer (D-NY) said that talk radio was pornography,” O’Leary said. “I wish it were because … the Supreme Court has protected pornography in this country.”

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