Skip to comments.Obama Declares War on Conservative Talk Radio
Posted on 11/16/2008 11:57:23 PM PST by ebiskit
Barack Obama sought to silence his critics during his 2008 campaign. Now, with the ink barely dry on this November's ballots, Obama has begun a war against conservative talk radio. Obama is on record as saying he does not plan an exhumation of the now-dead "Fairness Doctrine". Instead, Obama's attack on free speech will be far less understood by the general public and accordingly, far more dangerous. The late community organizer Saul Alinsky taught his followers to strike hard from an unexpected direction, an approach known asAlinsky jujitsu. Obama himself not only worked as an organizer for an Alinsky offshoot organization, Chicago's Developing Communities Project, but would go on to teach classes in Alinsky's beliefs and methods.
"Alinsky jujitsu" as applied to conservative talk radio means using vague rules already on the books to threaten any station which dares to air conservative programs with the loss of its valuable broadcast license.
Team Obama and the "localism" weapon
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule in question is called "localism." Radio and television stations are required to serve the interests of their local community as a condition of keeping their broadcast licenses.
Obama needs only three votes from the five-member FCC to define localism in such a way that no radio station would dare air any syndicated conservative programming.
Localism is one of the rare issues on which Obama himself has been outspoken.
On September 20, 2007, Obama submitted a pro-localism written statement to an FCC hearing held at the Chicago headquarters of Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.'s Operation Push.
Furthermore, the Obama transition team knows all about the potential of localism as a means of silencing conservative dissent. The head of the Obama transition team is John Podesta, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress.
In 2007, the Center for American Progress issued a report, The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio. This report complained that there was too much conservative talk on the radio because of "the absence of localism in American radio markets" and urged the FCC to "[e]nsure greater local accountability over radio licensing.
Podesta's choice as head of the Federal Communications Commission's transition team is Henry Rivera.
Since 1994, Rivera has been chairman of the Minority Media Telecommunications Council. This organization has specific ideas about localism:
In other words, it would not do for broadcasters to meet with the business leaders whose companies advertise on their station. Broadcasters must reach beyond the business sector and look for leaders in the civic, religious, and non-profit sectors that regularly serve the needs of the community, particularly the needs of minority groups that are typically poorly served by the broadcasting industry as a whole.
Rivera's law firm is also the former home of Kevin Martin, the current FCC chairman. Martin is himself an advocate of more stringent localism requirements.
It was on Martin's watch that on January 24, 2008, the FCC released its proposed localism regulations. According to TVNewsday: "At the NAB radio show two weeks ago, Martin said that he wanted to take action on localism this year and invited broadcasters to negotiate requirements with him."
FCC complaints as politics by other means
Remember that an FCC license is required for any radio or television station to legally operate in the United States. A single complaint from anyone can significantly hinder a station's license renewal process or even cost the station its FCC license entirely.
There have been some attempts to utilize the FCC complaint process for partisan political ends, most memorably in 2004, when Sinclair Broadcasting agreed to air a documentary questioning Senator John Kerry's war record:
Poised to pre-empt programming on its 62 television stations to run a negative documentary about Sen. John Kerry, Sinclair Broadcast Group has come under fire from critics calling it partisan and questioning whether it is failing federal broadcast requirements to reflect local interests.
Members of Congress and independent media groups have questioned the company's willingness to respect "localism," a section of federal law that requires media companies to cover local issues and provide an outlet for local voices.
One group, The Leftcoaster, went further:
But what isn't done a lot which requires the broadcaster to rack up expensive legal fees, is to challenge every one of their affiliates' FCC license renewals as they come up this year and next. ... [T]here still is time to organize and file Petitions or objections by November 1, 2004 for Sinclair stations in North Carolina and South Carolina, and for Florida by January 1, 2005.
More recently, the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium issued a "fill in the blanks" official FCC complaint form which begins "Anything that you feel is offensive is worth reporting."
Community advisory boards as permanent complaint departments
These random efforts could be far more effective at silencing conservatives if they could only be systematized and institutionalized. That is exactly what the FCC proposed on January 24th. Every radio and television station would be required to create:
[P]ermanent advisory boards comprised of local officials and other community leaders, to periodically advise them of local needs and issues, and seek comment on the matter. ...
To ensure that these discussions include representatives of all community elements, these boards would be made up of leaders of various segments of the community, including underserved groups.
The "community advisory board as permanent complaint department" model may well be based upon the 1995 revisions of the Community Reinvestment Act, as described by Howard Husock in City Journal:
[T]the new CRA regulations also instructed bank examiners to take into account how well banks responded to complaints. ... [F]or advocacy groups that were in the complaint business, the Clinton administration regulations offered a formal invitation. ...
By intervening-even just threatening to intervene-in the CRA review process, left-wing nonprofit groups have been able to gain control over eye-popping pools of bank capital, which they in turn parcel out to individual low-income mortgage seekers. A radical group called ACORN Housing has a $760 million commitment from the Bank of New York...[emphasis in original].
Understand that even allowing conservatives to be radio talk show guests may provoke a FCC licensing complaint. Just ask "right wing hatchet man" Stanley Kurtz.
For Obama, when it comes to radio talk, silence is golden, at least when it comes to conservatives.
Can localism be stopped?
FCC observers agree that the outpouring of complaints from groups like the National Religious Broadcasters during the original comment period helped delay matters.
However, Kevin Martin's determination to enact a localism regulation has led him to ask the broadcast industry to accept a voluntary standard that the FCC would then enact. If industry failed to agree now, Martin warned, "a future FCC may be less willing to compromise than the current one."
This scare tactic -- agree to our demands today or suffer dire consequences tomorrow -- is having an impact.
What broadcasters need to do: speak up now
Radio and television station owners need to become engaged in the localism issue and then take the time to educate their own Congressman and Senators about the dangers of the FCC's proposals.
If broadcasters get involved, it just may be possible to block implementation of any localism rules during the few months remaining of the Bush Administration.
This delay is critical, since once it is the Obama Administration leading the fight for rules which would shut down conservative talk radio, Republican Congressmen and Senators will find it easier to fight back.
The Senate needs to draw a line in the sand: free speech, not localism
While President Obama will have the authority to name Commissioners as their terms end, these nominations must be confirmed by the Senate.
A few pointed questions on localism to FCC nominees during their confirmation hearings would be useful. A filibuster of any and all pro-localism FCC nominees would be even better.
Any Senator leading such a filibuster would earn the gratitude of millions of fans of talk radio as well as everyone who believes in free speech..
Jim Boulet, Jr. is the founder of the anti-localism web site, KeepRushontheAir.com. Research assistance for this article was provided by Richard Falknor of Blue Ridge Forum.
Bookmark for later. If the site is still here.
The article at site contains numerous informative links.
This “localism” b.s. does sound like a dire threat to syndicated conservative talk radio.
otoh, if the Obamanators move forward on this the explosive counter-reaction may be just what is needed to recharge the conservative movement.
But all thel left leaning TV news shows are OK....
Prepare to fight FReepers. Prepare to fight.
Live internet streaming until the UN takes over the internet?
I agree. This kind of a move would galvanize support behind conservative talk radio. This could get very ugly very quickly.
Leftwing radio has failed consistently , so the airwaves would be full of--what? Propaganda issued from the King's reincarnation of Goebbels? Supported b\y tax money? This man is a serious psychopath. Make all the conjectures you want, I certainly am. I see a Soviet Amerika beginning if he is not stopped in his tracks by the Supreme Court. This intense refusal to show his true birth certif. must bring him down. The Court will have no other choice. We will have either Pres. Biden or Pres. McAmnesty; the enemies we know are better than the secretive ones we don't.
I’m not a kook.
He is a uniter! He is the President of ALL of us! Or so the wussies say... /sarc
Or even all of radio. Dollars to doughnuts, NPR national programming won't be counted as "non-local."
They don't see it coming, or they refuse to look.
Soon, Americans will wake up to the horrors of one-party rule and say "What have we done to our country?"
Correct. But we should still file a multitude of complaints against mainstream stations that broadcast in your area, as well as the PBS and NPR stations.
The only defense will be to inundate the review board with so many complaints that it basically brings the system to a halt.
So if your station doesn’t spew Obama’s nonsense 24/7, you will be taken off the air? Our new tin horn dictator thinks he can actually make this happen? LOL!
This will not increase radio traffic to "progressive" radio stations, rather it would have an effect of turning many in the media against him. "First they came for the Conservatives..."
Churches are part of “the local community”. Often a leading part. So does that mean under localism that radio stations are in effect obliged to broadcast church services?
They will be caught off guard.
We won't. We were the ones who could see straight through it from the start.
I don't think it has really set in just how serious this is going to get and how quick. The SCOTUS judges he pick will give us thrills for the next 30 years. He already has several executive orders written up for the first week. One of which will reinstate the drilling ban offshore. The loss in congress was terrible, but he can do irreversible damage with the stroke of a pen.
>>By hook or crook, BOHICA the censorship of free speech and our to right to peaceably assemble.<<
The Obama BOHICA Chronicles, Chapter 1.
The “localism” approach is great. All we have to do is call out the most famous quotation from that hero of Democrat politics, Fromer Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill:
“ALL politics is local.”
In the past year here I have seen here a number of references to Saul Alinsky. Some years ago a read he was a community organizer who used such creative protest ideas as suggesting the people who wanted an effective sit-in should eat beans and have a fart-in. I thought it was hilarious at the time. Can anyone tell me more about this guy.
>>Now, with the ink barely dry on this November’s ballots, Obama has begun a war against conservative talk radio. Obama is on record as saying he does not plan an exhumation of the now-dead “Fairness Doctrine”. Instead, Obama’s attack on free speech will be far less understood by the general public and accordingly, far more dangerous.<<
This issue is a concern but this article is poor.
It says that Obama is doing this but doesn’t cite any evidence. Everything it mentions is from before the election but the article is in present tense claiming it is happening now.
It is traditional for media to have and cite a source, even an anonymous one.
The Senate needs to draw a line in the sand: free speech, not localism.
The problem they present us with is that actually what conservatives object to in "the MSM" is not nearly so much what they say - frustrating as that so regularly is - as what they do not say.
What was wrong with the recent coverage of the election? The attacks on Sarah Palin were, and still are, frustrating in their lack of balance and perspective. And for every one of those attacks, there was a more valid and more damaging point to be made against Barak Obama which Associated Press journalism would not touch with a ten foot pole.
Many FReepers fall into the trap of demanding only that "the MSM" "just give us the facts." But the problem is that no matter how accurate reporting might be,Half the truth is often a great lie. - Benjamin FranklinThe ability of Associated Press journalism to perpetrate half truths is powerfully associated with their ability to constantly insinuate the con that "journalism is objective." Journalism is, inherently, very far from being objective. Journalism has a business interest - to attract an audience. The product it has on offer is ephemeral - information which is not yet available from anyone else. At least not locally to the audience. And obviously the internet undercuts that model, as does the fact which FReepers often observe - that "news" stories often fester and percolate and suddenly erupt in Big Journalism long after FReepers have already read about it and discussed it.
Associated Press journalism has a powerful interest in monopolizing the national public discourse. And, if Steve Boris is to be believed, the Associated Press was held by SCOTUS to be a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act back in 1945. It is the Associated Press which is the origin of the claim that journalism is objective. The original basis of that claim was that the member newspapers of the AP were famously independent and argumentative, and didn't agree on much of anything. But whatever grain of truth might have existed in support of that argument in the late Nineteenth Century, that is far from representative of modern reality. Every newspaper has to promote the con that journalism is objective, in order to assure its audience that it can trust reports which come from reporters who are not in the employ of that particular newspaper. That is a tremendously powerful homogenizing force, so that today there is not a dime's worth of difference between the perspective of the reporters from any of the different members of the AP. The business model of the AP makes that inevitable.
The newspapers of the founding era were more similar to today's opinion journals than to modern newspapers. The newspapers of the founding era typically were weeklies rather than dailies. Not only were they long on opinion, they were short on news not available to the public from other sources. They were published by people who made no bones about their politics, any more than a Rush Limbaugh does. Should Rush Limbaugh be apologetic because he does not claim objectivity? Only if you accept the claim that AP journalism is in fact objective. But if you accept that claim and base censorship laws upon that claim, you should be able to prove the claim. And because half the truth can be a lie and nobody can tell the entire truth, proving that claim is impossible. That would be the case even if that claim were true. But it is IMHO far easier to argue that the claim is false.
The only trouble about making the argument is that it is difficult to get a hearing for your argument. The FCC has a long history of promoting "objective" journalism as being the public benefit of broadcasting. We need a case before SCOTUS which would stop the FCC from promoting the confidence swindle known as "objective journalism." And we need it yesterday.
Such a case should be crafted to bring down "Campaign Finance Reform" as well, since the "objectivity" of journalism is a planted axiom, not only in McCain-Feingold but in all prior laws of the sort.
I agree that this idea is nonsense.
Freedom of speech is not determined by group think.
I would suspect that most liberal would fear this encroachment.
This child is in for a rude awakening.
LET FREEDOM PING
BRING IT ON
It will make satilite, internet streaming, and podcasting all the more popular.
Just be ready, when he gets REALLY big, he’ll still think he’s a li’l puppy and want to jump in your lap. :)
He is very cute, surprised you could get one before 8 weeks, probably special arrangement? Mastiffs are loving and adorable friends. Thanks for sharing and congratulations!
ACORN on AM
Be careful of what you wish for. Bohica may want the court to rule him invalid. He then would rule the court invalid and pack it with his stooges, thus ending the only opposition remaining in the federal government.
If, if, if...
When, when when...
State run and sponsored radio is on the way . The Soviets of the 60s had nothing on us now.
I am a citizen, NOT a subject.
I WILL NOT BE RULED.
Obama needs only three votes from the five-member FCC to define localism in such a way that no radio station would dare air any syndicated conservative programming.
The the time is NOW for us to approach the FCC and let them know that WE THE PEOPLE are against this. AGAIN , we have to aggressively fight Obama at every turn. This assclown will move like wildfire against us and if we sit here on chat about it our rights will be pulled away.
Cruise liners are about to be a bargain, someone like Rush could set up off shore and blast away. Then, there’s also satellite radio which could be useful.
He says that HE picked YOU out. What’s his name? He looks like a good dog.
No, you are only emotionally ready. We have no strategy, no tactics ready, no leadership or funding structure. We have to find a way to get the head of the snake to eat its own tail.
Work for state legislatures; 2010 is a census year, and redistricting comes soon after.
Don’t let the Republicans run any closet socialists in your area.