Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

February 26, 2014

In the House of Wood: Bad idea, FCC

By Steve Woodhouse

---- — “In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.” --Pastor Martin Niemöller, 1945

I was reminded of this quote last week, amid reports of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moving forward with its plan to bring the government into America's newsrooms. Over the years, I have watched my brethren in the media impishly report on attacks on America's Constitution and Bill of Rights, (oftentimes, leading the cheer as gun rights and Christianity were attacked) all the while knowing that sooner or later, big brother would try to interfere with free press.

Most major broadcast networks have little to no credibility with me because of their overt partisanship and their decision to hand the presidency over to Barack Obama. I've ranted enough about that over the years, so I won't repeat myself.

Though they made the choice to hang with the cool kids instead of serving as any kind of a watchdog, the FCC's plan seems to take away the choice of how and what broadcasters choose to report. The FCC claims that participation in its program is voluntary, but don't you think newsrooms will feel obligated or coerced into cooperating with the agency with the power to strip away their licenses?

The FCC has since chosen to postpone implementation of its program. I'm sure it's not going away, however.

Over the years, we have seen several Amendments in the Bill of Rights become nullified. All the while, most media outlets are too busy worrying about pop stars, who they're dating and their drug problems. But if you stop and think about the rights we no longer fully enjoy, largely due to the Patriot Act, it seems as though our government has decided that the Amendments no longer matter, nor do any of our opinions.

Much like Niemöller, the press has not done enough to wield its power and influence to stop this erosion of our fundamental rights. Whether its presenting one-sided reports on issues such as gun violence, character assassination of anyone with whom they disagree, or failing to convey the true government oversteps that have taken place when our Constitution has been violated, their apathy has done irreversible damage to this country.

For instance, I don't think they've done enough to delve into the executive orders of our presidents. They gave out numbers, but seem so neutered about trying to hold any of them accountable or examine the Constitutional authority that grants the chief executive this power, if any. Too often, when the media does put a lot of focus on an elected official, it is often meant to feed a salacious topic or scandal, rather than looking into how one's actions affects we, the people.

Their decisions to cry, “Wolf” on meaningless and partisan topics have only done more to damage their credibility and their reputations. Even when the FCC reinstates its program, and news outlets discover that they are losing their freedoms, which we hold most dear, who is going to listen to them?

There was a reason the Founders wanted a free press. They new a free republic could not survive with an ignorant, uninformed populous. Our job is to do what we can to keep people informed.

The FCC's plans may not have a sinister plot behind them, but it's still a bad idea. I just know that I'm going to keep trying to say something before there's no one left to speak up for my profession or me.

Take care of yourself and thank you for reading.