In the wake of a massive conservative media outcry, the FCC is retreating from its plan to put researchers in American newsrooms to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.
Fox News reported:
FCC spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said Chairman Tom Wheeler agreed with critics that some of the study’s proposed questions for reporters and news directors “overstepped the bounds of what is required.”
The agency announced that a proposed pilot study in South Carolina will now be shelved, at least until a “new study design” is finalized. But the agency made clear that this and any future studies will not involve interviews with “media owners, news directors or reporters.”
Chalk one up for the First Amendment, but stay vigilant. Totalitarians never quit. The “new study design” may not be any better than the old one – considering who is in charge of conducting the study.
In 2009, when she was still just a nominee for the Federal Communications Commission, Mignon Clyburn, the daughter of Rep. Jim Clyburn, told the Senate Commerce Committee, “The FCC is not in the content business.”
But just over a year since she was confirmed, the FCC is marching forward with a questionnaire for newsrooms that critics have ripped as invasive – and possibly a shot across the bow in a push to reinstate the Reagan-era fairness doctrine.
Clyburn, whose father is a vocal proponent of the fairness doctrine, will be running the CIN study. Interestingly, a field test of the CIN will be happening in Jim Clyburn’s own home state of South Carolina within the city limits of Columbia.
Jake Tapper interviewed the author of the WSJ piece that spurred the controversy, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who was one of the staunchest critics of the proposal, on CNN earlier today during his “Buried Lede” segment, where he covers stories that he thinks aren’t getting enough attention. The news broke of the FCC’s retreat at the end of the segment.