Snivel Radio

Taylor Marsh addresses the Center for American Progress report in the same way that Hugh Hewitt addresses a new football season; with preconceptions firmly in place, and no perspective to lend any credence whatsoever – a shortcoming that is neither of their fault, per se, but still renders their commentary meaningless:

Boy did American Progress stir up a storm. Never has one report gotten so many wingnuts in a tizzy. It’s positively delicious.

Yeah, some of us get that way when half of our political system wants to sodomize the First Amendment.  Some of us even get upset when they come for Taylor Marsh’s freedom of speech.  Not that I’d expect reciprocation.

If your party is in free fall and your base is demoralized what do you do? That is, what do you do if you’re a Republican? You create an issue. Sew panic.

Sew panic.

With the needle of alarm, perhaps?

Perhaps Ms. Marsh means “sow” panic. 

I digress: 

Rev up that fear mongering machine! Never fear, Fox “News” is here. The trouble is that wingnut talk-radio has as much to fear from their own.

She mentions some Fox droid who lamented the likes of Trent Lott – as I, myself, did. 

Next on our incoherent swing through the stream of Ms. Marsh’s consciousness, we get to a big of history.  She actually comes close:

When Reagan deregulated the airwaves and nixed The Fairness Doctrine, up came the rise of Rush.

Unfortunately, throughout the 1990s, Democrats remained clueless. I was talking to people about wingnut radio in the 1990s only to see their eyes glaze over.

Why do I suspect it had nothing to do with the subject?

No, I’m not snarking.  Well, not just snarking.  Because in her next line, Ms. Marsh shows that she’s been toking from the same bong of cluelessness that’s seemed to have driven all liberal talk radio in recent memory, save perhaps Fast Eddie Schultz and Stephanie “Like Laura Ingraham, but Liberal” Miller.  

 Most just wanted radio shows that drew listeners and raised ad revenue. Fine. All I wanted to do was provide a counterpoint. See eyes glaze over again.

“Oh, Christ.  Marsh is babbling about counterpoint again.  Doesn’t that woman understand that radio’s a business, not a hobby?” 

Profit is critical, absolute reality, but outright ownership of the airwaves is the public’s job and there are a lot of liberals in America, as well as independents who deserve to hear more than one point of view without having to pay satellite prices.

I’m a Veronica Mars fan.  Don’t I “deserve” to have my show un-cancelled?  Even though I was part of a cult following that didn’t make the show close to profitable for its network?

Marsh’s paragraph is so full of raw talking points, it’s hard to know where to start.  So let’s start at the top:

  1. Ownership of the airwaves hasn’t been “the public’s job” in the entire history of the medium.  Since the very beginning, the “airwaves” have been a trust, licensed to companies.  The Electromagnetic Spectrum is no more the public’s property than all seawater within 12 miles of the US coast is “government property”. 
  2. Are there a lot of liberals who “deserve” talk radio programming?  I’m sure there are.  And they find it – on NPR, and on middle-of-the-road talk stations like Minneapolis’ WCCO which, while it’s not a Guevara-T-Shirt-wearing, alpaca-clad, Volvo-driving Air America affiliate, certainly skews left of center vastly more than right.  And they found that – Air America – in America’s greatest liberal bastions, New York and Chicago and Portland and San Francisco and Minneapolis, on big, powerful, clear signals.  And they didn’t listen, in droves.  Even after their sole initial major-market success (in Portland, Oregon), the format, as well as the network sank like a rock. 

Back to Ms. Marsh:

When Republicans found out what radio could do their greed reached a peak. They used it on Clinton throughout the 1990s and it worked, with that success fueling more campaigns. They cemented Hillary Clinton’s persona as well. They’re doing it again with immigration, which is what has brought Trent Lott and others out.

The Fairness Doctrine is one issue, but the bottom line truly is regulation of the airwaves so one company and one political party doesn’t own them.

I can almost imagine Ms. Marsh saying the word; “companyandpoliticalparty”.  Like Clear Channel – which owns Rush Limbaugh – is an arm of the GOP.  Of course, Clear Channel si also the company that broadcasts the most “progressive” talk among the majors (behind CBS as a percentage of airtime devoted to liberals – but Clear Channel is much bigger, and accounts for more hours of lefty broadcasting nationwide).  

As if Clear Channel were a Republican operation, and they wouldn’t drop Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh in less than a news cycle if liberal talk got better numbers, and hence more profit.

Ms Marsh repeats – without apparently understanding them – the CAP’s statistics on the comparitive number of hours of conservative vs. liberal talk, and accepts without question their conclusion that “it’s not the market – it’s the ownership”. 

And with that presumption of ownership collusion comes…

Karl Rove has used right-wing radio for years to pump up the EMOTION of right-wingers, because that’s what gets voters to the polls and right-wing radio listeners vote. The same tactics are continued on “Christian” broadcasting networks throughout the country. It is quite simply the most formidably dangerous weapon the Republicans have to wield against Democrats come election time. Local conservative hosts gain trust with listeners to great affect. It hurts Democrats at the polls.

But behind all that is the simple fact that conservative talk radio is powerful because people listen to it. 

Something has to give; something has to be done. The de-regulation of the airwaves was the single most destructive act aimed at the public interest to hit media since talk radio began.

Well, no – in her own words, Ms. Marsh showed that it was the single most destructive act aimed at liberal hegemony over the media.   

A media she is woefully ill-equipped to understand:

As a progressive radio host without a home, except on the web, I don’t expect to stay on the air if I can’t pay the bills.

 What a crock of crap.

Ms. Marsh; you’re on Blog TalkRadio.  Blog Talkradio is free.  Any moron can put a show on BTR (and so can some excellent, talented hosts, like my real-radio colleague Ed Morrissey). 

So don’t be yapping about paying the bills, since you clearly have no understanding of how real radio people do exactly that – and like your liberal-radio friends, the only answer you have is to run crying to government. 

Advertisers and ratings are crucial. But most progressives can’t even find a spot on terrestrial radio from which to launch a show and test it for enough cycles to get ratings. That’s just a fact.

 No, it’s just buncombe.

Air America has been “tested” for four years now.  By the time Rush, Sean, Hugh, Michael, Dennis and the rest of talkradio’s household names had been on for four years, they were all unqualified successes.  Air America peaked within a year of its debut, never made money (and arguably was never intended to), and is circling the drain faster every day.

Sort of like Ms. Marsh’s command of the facts on this issue:

So enter fear mongering. Shaking the radio base. Making them feel they’re going to lose Rush, Sean, et al. Are you kidding? They’re huge money makers and no station manager is going to get rid of them no matter what. 

 No, but that’s not what the Fairness Doctrine would do.  If a station broadcast Limbaugh and Hannity for six hours a day, they’d have to “balance” their schedule with six hours of “progressives” that nobody would listen to, replacing shows that have an audience with six hours of shows that never will.

On the corporate-owned stations of the Salem Network (for one of whom I do the Northern Alliance show on the weekends) which are all-conservative, 24/7, that’d mean a mandatory quota of 12 hours a day of “progressive”, ratings-killing, money-sapping, just-plain-lousy talk.

Raising the fear factor is just a tool to help them get the job done.

The word Ms. Marsh is looking for is “awareness”.

And looking.

And looking.

Babble Radio

As we on the right have been predicting for quite some time, the left – unable to match conservative talk radio in either the marketplace of ideas or the marketplace, wants to bring in Big Brother to do what their own feeble talent and intellect can’t.

A report by the “Center for American Progress” – of which more later – writes:

As this report will document in detail, conservative talk radio undeniably dominates the format.

Our analysis in the spring of 2007 of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners reveals that 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive.

Each weekday, 2,570 hours and 15 minutes of conservative talk are broadcast on these stations compared to 254 hours of progressive talk—10 times as much conservative talk as progressive talk

A separate analysis of all of the news/talk stations in the top 10 radio markets reveals that 76 percent of the programming in these markets is conservative and 24 percent is progressive, although programming is more balanced in markets such as New York and Chicago.

This dynamic is repeated over and over again no matter how the data is analyzed, whether one looks at the number of stations, number of hours, power of stations, or the number of programs. While progressive talk is making inroads on commercial stations, conservative talk continues to be pushed out over the airwaves in greater multiples.

These empirical findings may not be surprising given general impressions about the format, but they are stark and raise serious questions about whether the companies licensed to broadcast over the public airwaves are serving the listening needs of all Americans.

Radio isn’t supposed to “serve the needs of all Americans” (barring, say, local, regional or national emergencies). It’s supposed to provide stuff that listeners want to tune in to – something that the progressives liberals Fabian Statists have proven themselves dismal at (even in liberal strongholds like New York and Chicago, where the 3-1 disparity in programming hours is generous; the listening audience is even more lopsidedly conservative.

The CAP claim that almost a quarter of talk radio’s audience is identified as liberal – and that, therefore, the market should be coerced to provide liberal programming to “serve their needs” – ignoring, of course, that MPR (of which more in a moment) and the rest of the entire mainstream media establishment already provide this 24/7.

The CAP’s report (WARNING! PDF FILE!  GIVE UP ALL HOPE OF REASONABLE PERFORMANCE OR USABILITY!) lists several recommendations (which I’ll summarize, since copying and pasting from PDF is such a pain):

  1. Restore caps on ownership of commercial radio stations.
  2. Expand “local accountability” in radio licensing
  3. Extort money from station owners who “fail to abide”, give it to “Public Broadcasting”.

By the way, the CAP’s report (look starting around page 12 in the report) has some interesting data – or, to be more precise, makes you wonder precisely what “data” the CAP was using to figure out its ratios, and exposes the weakness of these kinds of surveys, where “conservative” and “progressive” mean precisely what the surveyors want them to mean – if you dig into it a bit.

For example, they credit KTLK-FM with 16 hours of “conservative” talk a day – but the only overtly political shows are Limbaugh, Hannity and Jason Lewis, which rack up nine hours a day among them (John Hines isn’t especially conservative, and Dan Conry is aggressively down-the-middle).   By the way, for all the CAP’s carping about centralization of radio station ownership, most of the “progressive” radio that is actually broadcast is on Clear Channel stations; CBS has a higher listed percentage of “progressive” talk programming, but they’re a much smaller network.  Smaller networks like Cumulus and Citadel broadcast virtually no “progressive” radio (Salem, I’m proud to say, actively squelches it at a corporate level).

Speaking of CBS – they list WCCO-AM in Minneapolis as having no political talk on either side.  WCCO broadcasts Eleanor Mondale, former (alleged) Clinton paramour, daughter of Jimmy Carter’s vice president and sister of paleoliberal Ted Mondale, as well as Jack Rice, Don Shelby and Dark Star; while none of these shows are explicitly political, their tone and topic selection and, when the chips are down, core beliefs do pretty well come blaring through.  They may not be “Air America” material, but they are, if not “progressive”, at least exceedingly friendly to the traditional Minnesota paleoliberal status quo.  The CAP study doesn’t account for this in the Twin Cities (or presumably any other market)…

…but they do call John Hines and Dan Conry “conservative”.

Food for thought.

Oh, by the way, the “Center for American Progress” – just a bunch of concerned citizens, right?

Not quite.  Michelle Malkin:

What is the Center for American Progress and why are they proposing this Government Talk Radio Grab? It’s a left-wing think tank headed by Clintonite John Podesta. It manages a radio studio used daily by left-winger Bill Press’s syndicated radio show. The syndicator is the nutroots Jones Radio Networks. CAP officials appeared frequently on Al Franken’s show and Air America’s airwaves. Seed money for the think tank came from–where else–George Soros, among others, according to the Washington Post.

The Inoffensiveness Doctrine

I hate “Free Speech in the Schools” debates. 

On the one hand, students being adolescents, and adolescents having huge tolerance for drama, the controversies are frequently giggly, overwrought and self-serving.

On the other hand, as I’ve noted (and will note further in the future), school administrations are frequently – how can I say this? – not the brightest lights on the Christmas Tree?  And while students under age 18 are not adults and aren’t expected to have fully-formed decision-making skills, school is (in theory) where they’re supposed to start learning how the adult world works.

So that’s why I’m going to side with the students in this rhubarb:

A high-school newspaper in Anoka County will be printed today with a big blue box on the front page because the principal banned a photo that simulated the ripping of an American flag.

“Originally a photo was to be placed here but was censored by the administration,” reads a message inside the box, which is to accompany a front-page story in the Crier student newspaper at St. Francis High School.

It’s not really a flag that was destroyed during a school play last fall, but rather bunting that looks like an American flag. The Cold War-era story had explored the repercussions of a fictional conquest of a U.S. school by an oppressive government such as that of the Soviet Union.

Under the circumstances, the photo in question seems very appropriate to the story. 

Not everyone thinks so, of course:

The brouhaha began with a photo that [the paper’s editor Eric] Sheforgen took during the play called “The Children’s Story.” Students handled an actual flag, then substituted shredded bunting to make it appear as though a flag were destroyed. …”A photo of the school’s fall play was not placed in the newspaper after Principal Paul Neubauer threatened the newspaper with possible legal action and froze funds to the Crier’s financial accounts. Because of these actions the Editorial Board felt it had no choice but to not print the picture.”

Under the compromise, the principal allowed the blue box to be published in place of the photo.

A caption reads: “During the fall play, lead actress Becca Bennett held up a prop, made from table cloth bunting, representing how a country could be torn apart by affecting the youth. The picture was removed off the wall in the PAC (Performing Arts Center) hallway.”

Aside:  they’re teaching their paper’s editor to write like freelance soft-skills consultant? 

[Superintendent] Saxton, who fully supported the principal’s decision, said that while many other photos of the play would have been suitable, the one depicting flag desecration could have offended many veterans and service organizations that support the schools.

Which is, I think, fascinating.  I’ve yet to meet a school that fudged one iota about offending, say, Christians, Republicans or pro-lifers.  Money talks, I guess.

But this seems like a bad decision on the part of the administration.

The Democrat Case For The Fairness Doctrine

OK, lefties, this one’s for you.

Dennis “Starchild” Kucinich is floating the trial balloon; the left wants to resurrect the “Fairness Doctrine”, which would require that broadcasters “balance” their politically-focused programming. This would either force stations to air liberal hosts (who are a drag on the market) or, as most stations did before 1987, steer for the safe, boring middle.

The Democrats want…

…well, let’s let Democrats tell us what they want. As we noted yesterday, Democrat blogger Taylor Marsh says:

Democrats are still behind in radio…instead of using their donor base to help hosts who could hold their own. Creating Democratic business consortiums that help hosts get on the air, with the best of us staying on and eventually catapulting to syndication. The Fairness Doctrine could really make a difference.

In other words, “let’s use government to force the market to do what we can’t make it do via talent and savvy”.

Obsessive Regular commenter “Doug” puts it another way; when asked if Fairness Doctrine supporters believed that the people were too stupid to process information for themselves, he responded:

No Mitch but they are too lazy.

OK, lefties – keep ’em coming. Why do you want to reinstate the “Fairness Doctrine”?

What excuses do you have for parsing the First Amendment?

Comments must be on-topic; I will be uncharacteristically really ruthless about this today.

So Pick Your Side

 The other day, when talking about the Dems’ plan to try to reinstate the “Fairness Doctrine”, I noted that there really are only two sides to this debate; you support free speech, or you believe that federal bureaucrats should control it; the exact words were “authoritarian thug”. 

We have a vote for thug:

But the Fairness Doctrine is back or at least being talked about again, with Congress set to challenge the FCC. The thought is already driving conservatives nuts, with more here, here, here, here, here, with Jeff Goldstein his usual obtuse self. QandO offers more. One blogger calls it Free Speech’s Abu Ghraib. [waves] They’re all nuts [Doh!  I’m “nuts”!  I’m disintegrating in the face of the logical onslaught!]. They’re also very happy with controlling the radio waves.

Let’s stop right there for a minute.

The woman writing this bit – Taylor Marsh – bills herself as a “radio host”.  Her “radio show” is, of course, an internet-only stream.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it explains how so much of what she says really has nothing to do with the reality of the radio industry.

Conservatives “control the airwaves” because we provide a better product that more people want to listen to.  Example:  My NARN pals and I (who broadcast on a real station as well as a real internet stream) “control the market” among political talk on Saturday afternoons not because of “corporate support” (Salem vs. Clear Channel?  Puh-leeze).  No, we bitch-slap both KTLK-FM and the local Air America affiliate like a prison laundry-room beat-down because people want to listen to us, for whatever reason.

Ipso Limbaugh, Hannity, Hewitt and the rest of us.  Nobody holds a gun to an audience’s head and makes them tune in. 

Looking at Ms. Marsh’s take on history is interesting, inasmuch as it shows the left hasn’t changed their talking points in over a decade:

The short version of the Fairness Doctrine is that in 1987 Reagan had it scuttled. Shortly after that Rush Limbaugh began his journey and right-wing radio was created and gradually took over the airwaves, with the help of their corporate friends

I’ve often wondered what Democrats think they mean when they say this?  Was it that…:

  •  Limbaugh succeeded only because of the machinations of a cabal of oligarchs that forced America to make him their #1 talkradio choice?
  • Or was it that they don’t think there were a slew of “corporate friends” backing the likes of Jim Hightower, Mario Cuomo and, of course, Air America?  And, with that in mind…
  • …how do they think someone launches a national syndication effort?  By nailing posters up on telephone polls asking people to listen?

And, speaking of “corporate support”; the week after the NARN went on the air, Fast Eddie Schultz appeared on the Today show, in a gushy, fawning interview with Katie Couric.  “Is this man the answer to Rush Limbaugh?”, Couric asked in the teaser into the break before the interview.  At that moment, Schultz had six stations in his network; other than Fargo and Minneapolis, none were in large markets.  KSTP’s Joe Soucheray had a bigger cumulative audience.  But the big media desperately want someone on their side to come along and knock off Limbaugh, which is why stiffs like Schultz and Air America get such breathless, sycophantic approval from (and treated like actual players in) the mainstream press.

  More history gone tragically awry follows:

 I’m exaggerating, but Democrats were so dense about radio for so long it’s amazing there are still any progressive hosts out here working every day to get back on radio.

They were indeed dense – and, looking at the endless farce of Air America, seem to remain so – but the denseness was that of the fat ‘n happy incumbent, not the plucky challenger.  Remember when the “Fairness Doctrine” was repealed?  I do – I was working in talk radio at the time.  Who were the big players?  ABC Talkradio was the big network in 1987; their big players were Michael Jackson (who, with the repeal of the Doctrine, came out as an unabashed lefty), Sally Jessy Raphael (not political, but her sympathies were obvious), Owen Span (left of center) and some whom I’ve long forgotten, but not a conservative among ’em.  Mutual’s big – and only – property was Larry King, who never did a “political” show, but whose sympathies are and were solidly left of center.   “Conservative” network talk was pretty much unheard of; Morton Downey, Bob Grant and Joe Pyne were the godfathers of the genre, and they were purely local.

So in terms of content, the left had control of talk radio the day the Fairness Doctrine was put to sleep.  How could that status quo have flipped 180 degrees within two years? 

 Because “corporate friends” willed it?  Or because Rush Limbaugh et al delivered a product that the market wanted and scooped up in droves?

And what about those droves?  How did they get there?

 It’s about getting control of all the little stations in all the little towns so that you can influence all those people.

Why does the left fail at radio?  Because they don’t understand it.  Yes, Limbaugh has been for many years a Clear Channel property – but his popularity waxed long before that deal was ever inked.  And in those days, stations – including a throng of small to mid-market stations, most of them not even “talk radio” stations in format terms – took Limbaugh’s show in droves.  My own radio alma mater, KQDJ in Jamestown ND, ran Limbaugh for years; the rest of the day, they were middle-of-the-road music and farm prices.  Many small market stations followed suit.  Why?  Because people tuned in.  Which is the goal in the business.

The inevitable rejoinder from the left is “But ClearChannel controls both Limbaugh and hundreds of stations!”.  Yes, for now – they’re selling off most of their small-market stations – and it’s irrelevant.  ClearChannel is a business.  Not only that, but much of the “success” Air America has had in the past few years has been from Clear Channel optioning Air America programming at some of its smaller urban stations as a tactical move. 

In other words, Clear Channel – the big, bad, “conservative” radio powerhouse – did more than any other broadcast corporation to keep Air America alive in the market.  Why?  Because they figured there might be a (fringe) market!  (They eventually realized they figured wrong; most Clear Channel talk stations are backing slowly out of their Air America commitments).

Let’s return to Ms. Marsh.  Contempt for the audience?  She’s got it!

 The host gets to know his/her audience, they trust him/her, so when this host tells them to vote for Right Wing Randy/Roxanne, they likely will.

Yeah, it worked like a charm this past November, didn’t it? 

 After all, they’ve built up a trust. Republicans will do anything to get ratings, which includes leaving the facts out and plying their audience with daily doses of emotion instead.

Leaving aside the “facts” bit – and no movement that includes Keith Olberman and Chris Matthews should complain much about selectiveness – talk radio is entertainment.  Emotion trumps fact (although among many of conservative talk’s stocks in trade is filling facts about stories the left-wing media omits.  Memogate, anyone?) 

But I’ll give this to Ms. Taylor; her next graf sums up the left’s ignorance of radio as perfectly as anything I’ve seen:  

Creating Democratic business consortiums that help hosts get on the air, with the best of us staying on and eventually catapulting to syndication. The Fairness Doctrine could really make a difference. Why do you think conservatives are screaming like crazy?

The left treats radio like a top-down command economy; all it takes is a couple (more) lefty plutocrats, and all the walls will fall!  And like all top-down command economies, it needs government coercion to work. 

(And as far as that “the best of ‘us'” bit – I’ll have to listen to Ms. Marsh’s show and see if she rates this impromptu promotion).

Ms. Marsh; there is nothing preventing Democrat talk radio from doing exactly what you describe.  Nothing.  Indeed, it’s been done; NPR (and MPR) are nothing if not the product of left-leaning power brokers – they differ in working through government rather than the market.  And in fact, Air America’s three year nightmare was exactly what you described (except for the whole “best of ‘us’ vaulting to syndication”; Air America tried to skip the whole “learn how to do good radio” step of the process.  As did Hightower and Cuomo.  The results were, at worst, comical; standup comics make lousy talk hosts). 

No, what you (plural) want is for government to force the market to accept you. 

We’re “screaming” (the term I use is “pointing out the inherent oppressiveness and paternalism of your idea”) because you want the government to do for you what the your genre’s fundamental lack of talent, mass appeal and market savvy can’t do for you.

Because head-to-head, all things being equal in a free, open market, conservative talk beats liberal talk every time.  And without Big Brother holding a gun to our head and telling us to fight with an arm behind our backs, we always will.

So here’s the question:  Do you believe that people are too stupid to be trusted as consumers of free speech (as Ms. Marsh seems to)? 

Because, as Ms. Marsh put it in about as many words, that’s really the only reason to reinstate the “Fairness Doctrine”.

Free Speech’s Abu Ghraib

Remeber during the first four years of the Bush Administration?  When every Democrat, including the ones who’d spent the Clinton era chuckling at the crazies in the Libertarian Party, thought concern for civil liberties (other those to abortion, making poop sculptures and exposing oneself in public) was the mark of tinfoil-hatted crazies?

 Remember how the minute John Ashcroft was sworn in, they became strict constructionists…no, that’s not accurate.  They became not-very-discerning absolutists? 

And when word got out that a group of soldiers mistreated a group of Iraqi detainees, Liberty was the word of the day?

They must have woken up.  The fantasy is over; the leopard’s spots are visible again.  The Democrats want to put free speech on a leash and make it bark like a dog:

Over the weekend, the National Conference for Media Reform was held in Memphis, TN, with a number of notable speakers on hand for the event. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) made an surprise appearance at the convention to announce that he would be heading up a new House subcommittee which will focus on issues surrounding the Federal Communications Commission.

I can hear it now:  “Oh, it’s just that nutbar Kucinich”.

Not at all.  Regulating free speech (by conservatives) is close to the heart for the left for almost two decades, ever since the Fairness Doctrine was repealed, opening the way for conservative alternatives to the left’s smothering hegemony in the media.  Hillary! Clinton and John Kerry have both floated the idea.

Kucinich’s push isn’t the ravings of a crackpot; it’s a trial balloon floated by someone who can’t do the Democrat mainstream any harm.  Their focus groups can poke and prod and see if the issue can move in from the fringe in time for the election.

In addition to media ownership, the committee is expected to focus its attention on issues such as net neutrality and major telecommunications mergers. Also in consideration is the “Fairness Doctrine,” which required broadcasters to present controversial topics in a fair and honest manner. It was enforced until it was eliminated in 1987.

Kucinich said in his speech that “We know the media has become the servant of a very narrow corporate agenda” and added “we are now in a position to move a progressive agenda to where it is visible.”

What Kucinich means, of course, is that he (and the new Democrat majority for whom he speaks) want to explore the idea of using the government to reassert control of the media. 

Here, though, is where the real agenda is betrayed:

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps was also on hand at the conference and took broadcasters to task for their current content, speaking of “too little news, too much baloney passed off as news. Too little quality entertainment, too many people eating bugs on reality TV. Too little local and regional music, too much brain-numbing national play-lists.” Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein also spoke at the event.

Of course, Mr. Copps doesn’t note how much Americans’ news and entertainment bypasses the traditional broadcast and print media, today.  The market has been bleeding people away from newspapers, network newscasts, even the Big Three’s entertainment programming for decades…

…and have been proving Copps’ thesis to be void and without merit, lately, inasmuch as we are, right now, in the golden age of the broadcast TV drama.  The networks have had to respond to cable and the internet; some of that response has been Fear Factor, true, but great drama, comedy and writing (24, House, Scrubs, Lost and many more) are all over the place, like never before.

But don’t be fooled.  This isn’t about Fear Factor, or about quality at all; the FCC held full sway during the “glory” years of Laverne and Shirley, Three’s Company and The Love Boat. 

No.  This is about silencing talk radio, neutering conservative blogs, and re-homogenizing all American news content.

If you are a conservative – or a liberal with any integrity – you need to call your congresspeople and set them straight about this.

And if you call yourself a “liberal” but you support this, then you need a new, more honest label.

How about “authoritarian thug”?

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