Censorship again. I have written about censorship recently and believe it must be talked about and exposed whenever instances are found. Many of us complain about “mainstream” media bias but that’s a political issue among and between organizations that are not pure news media. The blurring of lines between news and editorials is for discussion another day. Groups of journalists that appear to include investigative news organizations and writers (Woodward and Bernstein, anyone?) are speaking out about censorship from the “most transparent administration ever.”
In an unusual alliance, a number of journalism organizations have banded together to denounce what they call “politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies.” Those are strong words. Suppression of news sounds like something done in totalitarian regimes. But the Society of Professional Journalists, American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Poynter Institute and other media groups make that case in a letter to Obama.
via Why media groups are accusing the administration of ‘censorship’ | Fox News. The groups’ complaint is not new but the article indicates the current level to be unprecedented. Here’s why this is a “big deal.” The oft-quoted warning that “the devil is in the details” is nowhere more true than in the legislative process1 where the laws that are hardly passed in the light of day to begin with devolve into the morass known as the regulatory system. It is in the regulations — conceived, written and implemented largely by staffers — where laws are implemented. They often, even usually, go beyond and outside the letter and intent of the laws. Unfortunately, until challenged, regulations have the effective force of law. Thus the complaining journalists’ groups continue:
“Over the past two decades,” the groups write, “public agencies have increasingly prohibited staff from communicating with journalists unless they go through public affairs offices or through political appointees. This trend has been especially pronounced in the federal government. We consider these restrictions a form of censorship — an attempt to control what the public is allowed to see and hear.”
So, what is to be done? First, be aware of the regulatory process in government and be vigilant. Senators and Congressmen should be encouraged, indeed admonished, to pay more attention to it themselves. There is a tendency in the legislative process to pass the bill and pat themselves on the back, and move on to the next project. Second, remember that elections have consequences. This fall, keep in mind the need for real transparency, the need to shine bright sunlight on government. Remember this censorship problem, the political talking points on Benghazi now proven wrong, the lies of Lois Lerner and the IRS, the passing of Obamacare so that we could find out what’s in it, the punishing of conservative groups by Lerner and her IRS thugs. Demand real transparency and honesty. Vote on character and not charisma.
Post-note: The news of this group complaint is not a Fox News conspiracy. It is widely discussed on the site of the Society of Professional Journalists. It appears to have become a real movement as indicated by this blog:
Never before have I seen as many journalism groups come together on an issue, particularly one that has been relatively marginalized for years. I credit the tenacity of SPJ member Kathryn Foxhall, who has led the charge on this issue for several years. This D.C.-based freelancer has pushed, pulled and yelled, often shunted aside. Journalists have said it’s inside baseball and that reporters just need to buck up and do their jobs.
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- This is the process in both state and federal government ↩