Obama's Free Speech
October 26, 2009
By Humphrey Stevenson
The White House Communications Director Anita Dunn told the Dominican government that during the presidential campaign they stringently controlled the information that was communicated to voters. "Very rarely did we communicate through the press anything that we didn't absolutely control," said Dunn. She also said, " One of the reasons we did so many of the David Plouffe (Obama's campaign manager) videos was not just for our supporters, but also because it was a way for us to get our message out without having to actually talk to reporters." This would force a reporter to write only what Plouffe had said with no way to directly question him. According to Dunn, their media strategy was to make the press focus on what the campaign said and not why they said it.
All presidential campaigns attempt to manage, as best they can, the information that is given to the press. Ms. Dunn seems to be bragging on their ability to manipulate the media and thereby what the voters found out. It seems that this control of speech may not be limited to a presidential campaign.
Recently, the White House has attempted to discredit the top-rated news network, Fox News. On the October 18th edition of CNN's "State of the Union with John King," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was the guest. King asked Emanuel about the administration's conflict with Fox News. Emanuel said that Fox News "is not a news organization so much as it has a perspective." More importantly, the President does not want "legitimate news organizations" to follow the lead of Fox News.
ABC's Jake Tapper asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs about the administration's declaration that Fox News is not a news organization. To prove this assertion, Gibbs pointed to Fox News' programming at 9 pm and 5 pm eastern time. These are, of course, opinion programs hosted by Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck respectively. When Tapper pointed this out to Gibbs, he held to his allegation but gave no further examples.
Obama and his FCC are said to support the idea of "Net Neutrality." Under the provisions of this proposal, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would be regulated as to what they could limit on their service, particularly from competitors. ISPs would be forced to act as simply "dumb pipes" with little or no say over their business. The fear is that private investors will pull capital from internet ventures as they see limited prospects for profit. Then the Obama administration steps in with billions of taxpayer dollars to fill the void. These funds could either prop-up "private" ISPs or how about funding a "public option ISP." Regardless, once taxpayer dollars are funding the internet, the Obama administration will have the duty (as they see it) to control the content of the internet. After all, we can't have those "loud, shrill voices" speaking out with nothing to balance them.
The failing health of our print newspapers is well documented. Just in the last few days the New York Times has laid off another one hundred newsroom staffers. Media experts say that a government bailout may be necessary because the print newspapers have been losing money for years as people are increasingly turning to the "alternative media" for information. President Obama told editors of the Pittsburg Post-Gazette and the Toledo Blade in an interview that he would be willing to look at proposals like providing tax breaks or other incentives to the newspapers in exchange for them moving to a non-profit status.
Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland has proposed a bill that would grant newspapers 501c(3) status because, "the business model for newspapers, based on circulation and advertising revenue, is broken." Now why would this be? Surely advertisers have not tired of buying ads in newspapers only to be beaten up in the paper for their profits the next day. Surely readers are not tired of having their intelligence insulted or needing to question the veracity of every story in the paper. As 501c(3) organizations, newspapers become charities able to receive tax exempt donations. Under Cardin's bill, newspapers would be forbidden from endorsing political candidates, but that doesn't mean they can't shill for the Democrat party.
It seems that every time you shake a bush at the White House a Marxist or a Maoist runs out. A person is known by the company they keep. So what does this say about our President? One of the main techniques espoused by Marx or Mao was control what the people read or heard. One wonders if that is not the case with Obama.