It should go without saying that freedom of speech is an essential part of any democratic state. The freedom to criticize the government, to say what you think and feel, and to truly engage in the political process.
It is for this reason that I am somewhat disturbed by a recent trend that seems to be developing in some of the more recent actions of this Administration.
Earlier this year, there was a considerable push to reinstitute the “Fairness Doctrine”. This is a doctrine which effectively muzzles conservative talk-radio hosts, and prevents them from exercising their freedom of speech. As we have stated previously, this ironically named doctrine presents a grave threat to political thought and the freedom of ideas that distinguish America as the freest society in the world.
Then earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission issued an 81 page document which significantly regulates the actions of bloggers, and also promoted a workshop discussing the creation of government-operated newspapers.
Of course, this is all in the context of President Obama’s radical plan regulate the internet, which, if passed, shall have incredibly serious deleterious consequences not just in terms of reducing bandwidth speed and increasing costs to consumers, but also as a potential introduction to even greater government regulation and ultimately censorship (the current bans on online poker are just the first step)
It is onto this backdrop that the Administration’s recent attacks on Fox News are especially worrying.
There can be little doubt that Fox News has been responsible for some of most in-depth investigations of the Obama Administration to date. While the Mainstream Media missed the three biggest stories of the year, Fox News has reported the facts and asked the difficult questions. In response, after Fox reported how the interim communications director for the White House praised genocidal murderer Chairman Mao (responsible for 40-80million deaths – more than any other man in history) as one of her greatest inspirations and favorite philosophers, the White House has responded with a blatant attack on Fox News, firstly saying that Fox was not a news outlet, calling upon all other media outlets to effectively boycott Fox, and to ignore any story that originates with them. Just think – the Executive Branch is now telling the media exactly what they should be doing. The implications are staggering.
This heated up yesterday, when the White House announced today that White House Press Pool access to Czar Feinberg would explicitly exclude Fox News, despite the fact that the Press Pool is part-funded by Fox. Fortunately, the other networks refused to comply with this, and the Administration was forced to reverse course.
It is not so much this one incident that is troubling – rather, it is the underlying theme of all of these events put together, one where undoubtedly free speech is slowly being ebbed away.
As one commentator noted: “When you look at this administration’s performance to date, it’s like the Democratic Party went out and found themselves a caricature of everything that they complained about/hated/feared with regard to George W Bush… only this time? It’s all true.”