Relax, It’s Not the Thought Police-Right Wing Gets The Vapors, Again
By Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:19pm
…many conservatives are wrongly invoking the First Amendment to slam a survey of various media outlets, administered by the Federal Communications Commission, which is intended to collect information to help the FCC identify “critical information needs” in American communities. The survey’s findings will be central in efforts to maintain competition among newsrooms and protect viewpoint diversity, both crucial First Amendment values. (I’d also note that this is a case where the FCC is affirmatively trying to get a sense of the market before regulating, also a good move for speech.)
The FCC’s current plan is a confidential, anonymous survey of station managers, news editors, line reporters and others about whether the people who work in the newsroom feel that they are serving their market communities effectively. There is no mention, whatsoever, of any potential consequence for refusing to answer or for giving a particular answer. Indeed, the anonymity of the survey and disaggregation of the results guarantee that no respondent will face any retaliation for any response, and the survey will be conducted by an independent contractor to preserve that anonymity.
In any event, I do appreciate the sensitivity of a couple of the questions in the survey, which have since been removed at the direction of Chairman Wheeler. But, with the First Amendment, as important as it is to be vigilant, it’s also important to resist crying wolf. Too many are unfortunately doing so here.