Skip to comments.Complaints about Broadcast Journalism
Posted on 09/23/2004 2:03:42 PM PDT by Weirdad
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) receives numerous consumer complaints about broadcast journalism (television and radio journalism). Consumers complain that networks, stations, news reporters and/or commentators have given inaccurate or one-sided news reports or comments, have either failed to cover certain events, or have covered them inadequately. Some consumers complain that the news has been staged or that news reports overemphasize or dramatize certain aspects of events. Other consumers object that broadcasters have announced an illness, accident, or a death of an individual before his or her family has been notified, or have in some way acted inappropriately toward the family. Consumers also complain to the FCC about the conduct (tone of voice, facial expressions, etc.) of some journalists while reporting or commenting on the news.
The FCC is caught in a tug-of-war between two consumer factions: on one side, consumers have urged the FCC to set guidelines to prevent bias or distortion by networks and station licensees or to supervise the gathering, editing and airing of news and comments; on the other side, consumers fear possible government intimidation or censorship of broadcast news operations.
The Communications Act prohibits the FCC from censoring broadcast material, except when that material is obscene. Specifically, federal law does prohibit or limit obscene, indecent or profane language, but the FCC must be guided by decisions of the courts in determining whether specific material may be prohibited under this law.
Additionally, the Communications Act and the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibit any action by the FCC that would interfere with free speech in broadcasting. The FCC can not interfere with a broadcaster’s selection and presentation of material for the news and/or its commentary.
As public trustees, broadcasters may not intentionally distort the news. Broadcasters are responsible for deciding what their stations present to the public. The FCC has stated publicly that "rigging or slanting the news is a most heinous act against the public interest." The FCC does act to protect the public interest where it has received documented evidence of such rigging or slanting. This kind of evidence could include testimony, in writing or otherwise, from "insiders" or persons who have direct personal knowledge of an intentional falsification of the news. Of particular concern would be evidence about orders from station management to falsify the news. In the absence of such documented evidence, the FCC has stressed that it cannot intervene.
All concerns and/or comments about a specific news broadcast or commentary should be directed, in writing, to the local station and network involved, so that the people responsible for making the programming decisions can become better informed about audience opinion.
Complaints regarding news distortion, rigging or slanting can be filed with the Federal Communications Commission, Enforcement Bureau, Investigations and Hearing Division, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554. Complaints must be in writing and contain documented evidence in support of the allegations. For example, it is not sufficient for a complaint to allege only that a broadcast station made a mistake in reporting a news event. The complaint must include documented evidence showing deliberate misrepresentation.
To receive information on this and other FCC consumer topics through the Commission’s electronic subscriber service, click on
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
445 12th St.. SW Washington. DC 20554
TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)
The FCC is useless when it comes to anything other than a wardrobe malfunction.
I think you are right, but in terms of building up a record of complaints in all the places where they need to build up, I still think we should go through the process of formally complaining.
Heres the reply the FCC sent me not including the above statement(I emailed around 10 people at the FCC and got multiple responses). Of course this was before the 60 Minutes actually aired and my concern was about Ben Barnes.
Subj: RE: Media concern
Date: 9/8/2004 7:18:15 AM Eastern Standard Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)
The media can air pretty much whatever it wants - even if it's inaccurate. That's because of the First Amendment's freedom of expression and the no-censorship provision of the Communications Act. Thus, the FCC lacks the authority to tell stations what to air and what not to air. It's entirely up to their discretion.
Policy Division (political office)
Sent: Tuesday, September 07, 2004 11:05 PM
Subject: Media concern
I am concerned about the media taking an active role in politics and trying to affect the Presidential elections. On Wednesday Dan Rather will be interviewing Ben Barnes about helping Bush get into the national Guard but it's actually a lie. Based on concrete evidence out of Barnes own mouth his story is false and the media will not perform their job.
Heres the evidence...
Ben Barnes claims he helped Bush get in the National Guard when he was Lieutenant Governor. Yet Bush joined National Guard in May 1968 and Barnes didn't become Lt. Governor until 1969 (term 1969-1973 Texas State Library). Here's the link to his speech that he claims he was Lieutenant Gov when he helped Bush. www.austin4kerry.org
Heres the link to AP story that says the quote then points out the lie and no one caught it.
Here's the article with the discrepancies highlighted
(CBS/AP) In a video posted on the Internet, former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, a Democrat, says he is ashamed that he helped President Bush and the sons of other wealthy families get into the Texas Air National Guard in 1968 so they could avoid serving in Vietnam.
"I got a young man named George W. Bush into the National Guard when I was lieutenant governor of Texas, and I'm not necessarily proud of that, but I did it," Barnes said in the 45-second video, which was recorded May 27 at a meeting of John Kerry supporters in Austin.
Barnes, who was House speaker when Mr. Bush entered the Guard, later became lieutenant governor.
He said he became ashamed after walking through the Vietnam Memorial and looking at the names of people who died.
"I became more ashamed of myself than I've ever been because the worst thing I did was get a lot of wealthy supporters and a lot of people who had family names of importance into the Guard and I'm very sorry about that and I apologize to you and the voters of Texas," Barnes said.
President Bush has denied that family influence got him into the Guard.
"With controversy swirling around Kerry's service as a swift boat commander in Vietnam, Barnes' latest statements renew questions about (Mr.) Bush's military record, but also about Barnes' motivation for telling his story," the Houston Chronicle says in its Saturday editions.
"It is no surprise that a partisan Democrat is making these statements," Bush spokeswoman Claire Buchan told the Chronicle. "This was addressed five years ago, and there's nothing new."
The video was posted June 25 on the Web site www.austin4kerry.org, but didn't get much attention until Friday, when Jim Moore, an Austin-based author of books about Mr. Bush, sent out e-mail messages calling attention to it, The New York Times reported in its Saturday editions.
It was the first time Barnes, a Kerry supporter, has discussed at length his role in getting Mr. Bush into the Guard. In 1999, he said he recommended Mr. Bush for a pilot's position at the request of a Bush family friend.
"I got a lot of other people in the National Guard because I thought that's what people should do when you're in office: You help a lot of rich people," Barnes said.
Mr. Bush joined the National Guard in 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War, and served until 1973. He has said he received no special treatment.
Barnes told The Associated Press in a brief telephone interview Saturday that the video "just speaks for itself." He declined to answer specific questions about what role he had in helping Mr. Bush, but he said he may have more to say next week.
Both Mr. Bush and his father, the former president, have said they did not ask for help in finding the Guard opening.
Mr. Bush said Saturday in Lima, Ohio, that he is "proud of my service" in the National Guard.
He made the comment after a questioner in a friendly audience at a high school commented, "I'm feeling sorry on your behalf the fact that they are trying to bring this issue up about the National Guard. I have many many good friends that served in the Guard during the ... Vietnam War."
"There's eight of them that are changing parties because they've had it with the Democrats," said the man in the audience.
"The question is who's best to be the commander in chief to lead us in peace. That's the question," Mr. Bush responded to applause.
Earlier Saturday, White House spokesman Scott McLellan said of Barnes' comments: "It is not surprising coming from a longtime partisan Democrat. The allegation was discredited by the commanding officer. This was fully covered and addressed five years ago. It is nothing new."
Five years ago, Barnes found himself at the center of questions about Mr. Bush's Vietnam-era service when the then-Texas governor emerged as the Republican presidential front-runner.
At that time, Barnes' lawyer issued a statement saying Barnes had been contacted by the now-deceased Sidney Adger, a Houston oilman and friend of Mr. Bush's father, who was then a congressman. Adger asked Barnes to recommend Mr. Bush for a pilot position with the Air National Guard and he did, that statement said.
"Neither Congressman Bush nor any other member of the Bush family asked Barnes' help," according to the 1999 statement.
© MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
We need to focus on the broadcast and licensing issue, because that is what they really regulate.