By From page A4 | February 26, 2014

Well, I walked through the jungle and around the bend
Who should I meet but President Diem
Said, you’re fighting to keep Vietnam free
For good old de-em-moc-ra-cy (Diem-ocracy)

— Talking Vienam Blues by Phil Ochs

Here’s the new take on that 1964 excerpt, updated for 2014. We’ll call it the “Talking News Blues,” a song about good old Obamocracy.

First verse, Attorney General Eric Holder taps the phones of a Fox News reporter and 20 lines of AP reporters in the House of Representatives plus AP offices in New York, and Hartford, Conn., plus one reporter’s parents.

Second verse, President Obama was shocked to learn the IRS was targeting conservative groups. He must have been as “shocked” as Capt. Louis Renault in Casablanca when he told Rick he was “shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” Instead Obama’s IRS is coming up with a formal policy to prevent conservative groups from having anything to do with politics. It’s the “round up the usual suspects” plan.

Third verse, even worse. Now Obama’s appointees to the Federal Communications Commission want to tell newsrooms, particularly TV and radio, what news to cover.

The “Overview” of the consultant the FCC hired to conduct the study wrote, it “has been tasked with … research … that can be used to identify and understand the critical information needs (CINs) of the American public (with special emphasis on vulnerable/disadvantaged populations).”

After an outcry from Fox News, Republicans in Congress and one appointee to the FCC, as well as the Radio and Television News Directors Association, the FCC Friday said it was putting its study “on hold.”

The Radio and Television News Directors Association seemed cautious if not outright suspicious.

“RTDNA views this as an important admission by the FCC that questions regarding editorial policies and practices are off-limits to the government,” Director Mike Cavender said in a statement. “We are eager to see the revised study to insure there aren’t topics or questions that could be construed as a ‘back door’ attempt to gather the same type of information.”

FCC spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said Friday that, “Any subsequent market studies conducted by the FCC, if determined necessary, will not seek participation from or include questions for media owners, news directors or reporters.”

However, she added: “Any suggestion that the FCC intends to regulate the speech of news media or plans to put monitors in America’s newsrooms is false. The FCC looks forward to fulfilling its obligation to Congress to report on barriers to entry into the communications marketplace, and is currently revising its proposed study to achieve that goal.”

Unless they kill this study entirely and call it totally unnecessary, we see no end to the FCC meddling in news content, news selection and news management. This is something for the American public to do, not the government. The American viewers choose the news programs they watch and the newspapers they read. Some get their news from Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon. Local newspapers like the Mountain Democrat also have a wide open forum on our Website and print nearly every letter sent to the editor from local readers. Their viewpoints about editorials, columns and ongoing news stories get a thorough airing in the letters and comments.

“The purpose of these interviews is to ascertain the process by which stories are selected, station priorities (for content, production quality and populations served), perceived station bias, perceived percent of news dedicated to each of eight CINs, and perceived responsiveness to underserved populations,” the study proposal wrote.

Part of this study included a “community ecology study” with individual in-depth interviews, such as, “Probe for all remaining CINs: health and welfare education — including information about schools; transportation … economic opportunities, including job openings, job training and information about small business assistance; environment, including air and water quality, and access to parks and other recreation; civic information, including what civic institutions and opportunities to associate with other people are available; political information, including information about candidates at all levels; information about public policy initiatives affecting your community and neighborhood.”

Anyone who can answer all those questions can probably identify who is vice president of the United States, who wrote the Declaration of Independence and what rights the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects and probably doesn’t know what Justin Bieber was arrested for in Florida or what twerking is. We just wish Obama’s government would quit waving the foam finger at us.

Mountain Democrat

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