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February 17, 2011

I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to The Death My Right to Make You Shut The Hell Up

Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps didn’t like some things that Bill O’Reilly and Bernie Goldberg of Fox News said about him. But, this being America, there was really only one thing he could do about it:

Threaten to silence them using the powers of the federal government!

As Copps pointed out in a speech this week, referencing comments made by the Fox News personalities regarding an earlier speech Copps had given:

“Fox News Channel’s Bernie Goldberg worried that I wanted ‘to shut down conservative talk radio’ and Bill O’Reilly wondered if I was ‘going to begin calling shots here on The Factor.’ Let me be clear: neither is true. And neither has anything to do with what I was actually talking about.”

 Of course it wasn’t.  What Copps was actually talking about was that news outlets should be required to:

“...prove they have made a meaningful commitment to public affairs and news programming, prove they are committed to diversity programming (for instance, by showing that they depict women and minorities), report more to the government about which shows they plan to air, require greater disclosure about who funds political ads and devote 25 percent of their prime-time coverage to local news.”

He doesn’t want to shut down conservative talk radio or “call the shots” for Bill O’Reilly,” he just wants to dictate what they cover, how, where, and with some advance notice about what they plan to air. He calls this a, “Public Values Test.”

See, O’Reilly and Goldberg took his remarks completely out of context.

And should be punished.

According to the Commissioner,

“What you and I are getting these days is too much opinion based on opinion and too little news based on fact." 

Clearly, there is a much better balance to be had, one best established by unelected government officials rather than people making their own decisions absent the guidance of Commissioner Copps.

In truth, the news is suffering from a bad case of substance abuse. That’s not just because the news is hard to find; it’s because there is much less of it. And there is much less of it because there is much less real journalism going on in our country today. When you lose a quarter or a third of your newsroom reporters, something’s got to give. Well, it gave.”

He makes a valid point.  For example, here in Arlington, Virginia, with newsrooms slashed to the point that we only have two local papers and one business paper and only about a dozen cable news channels including one local, we also only have more local Internet news sites populated by hungry young reporters than we even have the time to follow.

Wait, where were we going with this?

Oh yes, Mr. Copps understands:

“Yes, it’s true that the barrier to self-publish has never been lower, and that there are millions of websites to choose from, and innovation and collaboration are providing some impressive results. But newspaper and broadcast newsrooms still provide the overwhelming bulk of the news citizens receive—whether they receive it in the paper, over the air, or online.”

This sounds good but we still can’t shake the feeling that he thinks an iPad is something you find in an optometrist’s office.

No matter, Commissioner Copps thinks people have way too many opinions, particularly ones about him.

Copps a Great Guy


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February 17, 2011 at 05:31 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Why is it that whenever I read stuff like this, I think I should check if Home Depot has a sale on rope?

Posted by: TheOldMan | Feb 18, 2011 1:37:47 PM

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