Clearing the Air

Posted on February 21, 2014

Media and democracy thumbnail for issue buckets

Conservatives in the media are churning out distortions like a well-oiled machine. The latest is that the FCC is invading newsrooms and squelching dissent.

We have always been willing to call the FCC when it makes a mistake, but cheap shots are just not ok.

It's time for some facts. Conservatives are worried about the FCC's congressionally-mandated Critical Information Needs studies. Those studies are designed to ask questions that examine how the media function -- what stories get covered, what stories do not. What makes the local news? Just weather and traffic, or important civic stories about corruption at city hall? Do local broadcasters do a good job publicizing information on, say, where to find vaccines during a public health crisis?

To get answers, the FCC has to ask questions. So it proposed surveying viewers, studying taped newscasts, and yes, asking news teams how they decide what they cover.

Cue the hysterics about the FCC dispatching federal agents to monitor newsrooms. The simple truth is the FCC has already dropped the controversial questions about news gathering. That wasn't enough for FCC Commissioner Pai who put out a press release announcing the studies had been suspended.

The Chairman's office apparently disagrees - the FCC will go forward without the news gathering questions that so troubled some conservatives. It's time to stop the distortions and let the FCC get back to doing its job.

For the latest, follow the Media and Democracy team on twitter at @ttoboyle and @coppsm

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Media and Democracy

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