Brian C. Anderson, author of South Park Conservatives, has an essay in this quarter’s City Journal. If his premises are correct, it is chilling to consider the conclusions.
In The Plot to Shush Rush and O’ Reilly , Mr. Anderson makes the claim that if the Left has its way, conservative radio and other media — including blogs — will either be severely regulated or banished from the public forum.
The rise of alternative media—political talk radio in the eighties, cable news in the nineties, and the blogosphere in the new millennium—has broken the liberal monopoly over news and opinion outlets. The Left understands acutely the implications of this revolution, blaming much of the Democratic Party’s current electoral trouble on the influence of the new media’s vigorous conservative voices. Instead of fighting back with ideas, however, today’s liberals quietly, relentlessly, and illiberally are working to smother this flourishing universe of political discourse under a tangle of campaign-finance and media regulations. Their campaign represents the most sustained attack on free political speech in the United States since the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts. (emphasis added)
Mr. Anderson places the blame directly on the McCain-Feingold monstrosity that is continuing to spawn its ill-conceived and illegitimate grotesqueries whose sole raison d’être is to stifle the free expression of ideas. As we continue down the slippery slope to enforced silence we ought at least to look behind to see the forces determined to shove us there.
They include the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Ford Foundation, and, George – of course – Soros’ Open Society Institute. If Soros has his way, the open society will go the way of the dodo bird.
And here’s a bit of research you probably didn’t know:
Campaign-finance reform has a squeaky-clean image, but the dirty truth is that this speech-throttling legislation is partly the result of a hoax perpetrated by a handful of liberal foundations, led by the venerable Pew Charitable Trusts. New York Post reporter Ryan Sager exposed the scam when he got hold of a 2004 videotape of former Pew official Sean Treglia telling a roomful of journalists and professors how Pew and other foundations spent years bankrolling various experts, ostensibly independent nonprofits (including the Center for Public Integrity and Democracy 21), and media outlets (NPR got $1.2 million for “news coverage of financial influence in political decision-making”)—all aimed at fooling Washington into thinking that Americans were clamoring for reform, when in truth there was little public pressure to “clean up the system.” “The target group for all this activity was 535 people in Washington,” said Treglia matter-of-factly, referring to Congress. “The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot—that everywhere they looked, in academic institutions, in the business community, in religious groups, in ethnic groups, everywhere, people were talking about reform.”
In other words, we’ve been had.
Want to know what is in the works for blogs? According to Mr. Anderson’s scenario, it’s ugly:
Campaign-finance reform now has the blogosphere in its crosshairs. When the Federal Election Commission wrote specific rules in 2002 to implement McCain-Feingold, it voted 4 to 2 to exempt the Web. After all, observed the majority of three Republicans and one Democrat (the agency divides its seats evenly between the two parties), Congress didn’t list the Internet among the “public communications”—everything from television to roadside billboards—that the FEC should regulate.
Further, “the Internet is virtually a limitless resource, where the speech of one person does not interfere with the speech of anyone else,” reasoned Republican commissioner Michael Toner.
“Not so fast,” say these “reformers”:
…when the chief House architects of campaign-finance reform, joined by McCain and Feingold, sued—claiming that the Internet was one big “loophole” that allowed big money to keep on corrupting—a federal judge agreed, ordering the FEC to clamp down on Web politics. Then-commissioner Bradley Smith and the two other Republicans on the FEC couldn’t persuade their Democratic colleagues to vote to appeal.
The FEC thus has plunged into what Smith calls a “bizarre” rule-making process that could shackle the political blogosphere. This would be a particular disaster for the Right, which has maintained its early advantage over the Left in the blogosphere, despite the emergence of big liberal sites like Daily Kos. Some 157 of the top 250 political blogs express right-leaning views, a recent liberal survey found. Reaching a growing and influential audience—hundreds of thousands of readers weekly (including most journalists) for the top conservative sites—the blogosphere has enabled the Right to counter the biases of the liberal media mainstream. Without the blogosphere, Howell Raines would still be the New York Times’s editor, Dan Rather would only now be retiring, garlanded with praise—and John Kerry might be president of the U.S., assuming that CBS News had gotten away with its last-minute falsehood about President Bush’s military service that the diligent bloggers at PowerLine, LittleGreenFootballs, and other sites swiftly debunked.
Yes, that is what happened and that’s what the Democrats want to smother, as quickly and as quietly as possible.
If the Baron is correct, then entities like Pajamas Media will protect lone bloggers from the worst of the extremes of this execrable legalistic strong-arm thuggishness. Further, if he’s correct, then let a thousand Pajamas Media enterprises bloom. We will need them all to protect ourselves.
Go read the rest. See how they plan to cage O’Reilly and Limbaugh. It’s not pretty, but at least you’re prepared. If the media since 9/11 have done nothing else, they have taught us to see that they are not prepared to act in America’s interest unless it co-incides with its own prejudices. Have you noticed how seldom our interests and theirs happen to intersect?
Lovers of liberty should expose calls to restore the Fairness Doctrine for the fraudulent power-grab that they plainly are. And the Right, in particular, needs to understand how much it has benefited from a deregulated media universe. It should be confident that it has the right ideas, and that when it gets the chance to present them directly to the American people—as the new media have allowed it to do—it will win the debate. [emphasis added]
City Journal , Winter 2006