clap clap blog: we have moved

Thursday, May 22, 2003
William Safire leaves the "I had a stroooooke!" linguistic tricks behind and makes the excellent point that conservatives should be against media deregulation just as strongly as libbers:

Many artists, consumers, musicians and journalists know that such protestations of cable and Internet competition by the huge dominators of content and communication are malarkey. The overwhelming amount of news and entertainment comes via broadcast and print. Putting those outlets in fewer and bigger hands profits the few at the cost of the many.

Does that sound un-conservative? Not to me. The concentration of power — political, corporate, media, cultural — should be anathema to conservatives. The diffusion of power through local control, thereby encouraging individual participation, is the essence of federalism and the greatest expression of democracy...That's why I march uncomfortably alongside CodePink Women for Peace and the National Rifle Association, between liberal Olympia Snowe and conservative Ted Stevens under the banner of "localism, competition and diversity of views." That's why, too, we resent the conflicted refusal of most networks, stations and their putative purchasers to report fully and in prime time on their owners' power grab scheduled for June 2.

Must broadcasters of news act only on behalf of the powerful broadcast lobby? Are they not obligated, in the long-forgotten "public interest," to call to the attention of viewers and readers the arrogance of a regulatory commission that will not hold extended public hearings on the most controversial decision in its history?...Let's debate this out in the open, take polls, get the president on the record and turn up the heat.

I mean, duh to all of this, but thank God. This is one of the few times when you can clearly see that big business is getting a big ol' sloppy french kiss from a government agency at the expense of the clear interests and wishes of the vast majority of people. And so much of it is structural, as Safire points out, but a lot of it is internal politics as well, especially the fact that the FCC has been underfunded for so many years that it now doesn't have the resources to investigate most citizen complains of media abuse, and thus pays attention to the people who do give it money, i.e. the media conglomos. The end of the Right to Respond doctrine, the spectrum auctions, radio's the trail of tears for people who believe that citizen access to media is a vital component of a free republic.