Ongoing Threats to Free Speech

By: Bethany Stotts
Accuracy in Media

The Obama administration and other liberal proponents of “net neutrality” were dealt a significant blow last month when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decided that 2010 FCC regulations on Internet providers were invalid. However, conservatives should remain alert to one caveat: the ruling affirmed a Federal Communications Commission right to regulate the Internet, leaving open the possibility for more tailored regulations by executive fiat.

“Analysts say it would be unwise for [internet service providers] to take initiatives that set off a consumer backlash or public relations battle, giving Democratic lawmakers an opening to propose new broadband legislation,” reported Investor’s Business Daily. “While the door might be open for ISPs to seek fees from bandwidth-gobbling websites, over-reaching could make it more likely that Congress will step in.”

And so, while the “free market” prevails in this court battle between the FCC and Verizon, this is a tenuous victory, and businesses must still balance their desire to innovate against the threat of Congressional intervention. And before the market reacts to the change in FCC rules, congressional leaders are charging into the breach to defend the open internet. The “Open Internet Preservation Act” was introduced by House Democrats on February 3. “The Internet is an open marketplace where everyone can participate on equal footing,” stated Democratic Senator Al Franken (MN) regarding the bill, which also has a Senate companion. Sen. Franken and the other co-sponsors say they’d like it to stay that way, and perceive a threat from big business.

Ross Kaminsky, writing for the American Spectator, has a different take: “The reason the Internet is one of the most successful achievements in human history is that it’s been almost entirely unregulated (other than attempting to prevent already illegal acts like dealing drugs or distributing child pornography, etc.)” (emphasis added).

“The idea that anything the FCC would do is likely to increase innovation is ridiculous on its face,” argues the senior fellow at the conservative Heartland Institute (emphasis in original).

“Tuesday’s [court] victory, although in an important battle, must be seen in the context of a never-ending war against a patient and determined enemy,” he asserts. Particularly, “With Net Neutrality dead for the time being, I expect renewed focus by the partisan [FCC Chair Tom] Wheeler on a new version of the ‘Fairness Doctrine’ in which the FCC will work to weaken conservative dominance over talk radio and cable TV news.”

As Accuracy in Media has long argued, a revival of the Fairness Doctrine is fully possible under the Obama administration, although it may occur under the guise of diversity and media ownership rules, or some other promotion of “media diversity.” This makes it all the more disturbing that the FCC has reportedly launched a $900,000 study in Columbia, South Carolina that will, according to The Hill, “ask journalists and station owners about their news philosophy and story selection process.”

Yet the media has been virtually silent about this study and what it might mean for the American public’s ability to access news without government interference. The Daily Caller published an article on the study in late October of last year. Then, in December it published an article questioning whether the study will actually take place, given an apparent lack of outreach on the FCC’s part. “More than six weeks after the Federal Communications Commission announced a broad probe of political speech that raised serious First Amendment concerns, the city where the program was scheduled to begin has yet to hear from the Feds,” they wrote. “Some FCC watchers speculate that Wheeler does not share [former acting chair Mignon] Clyburn’s interest in the CIN survey.”

If so, this would mark a significant turn of events, especially since Wheeler himself clung to the survey as a fact-finding mission in his testimony before the House.

“In order to make that kind of a judgment you have to have facts,” said Wheeler. “In order to have facts you do studies. And what we did was, there is a study that has been proposed by a consulting firm that we were working with, and we put that out for public notice to exactly get the kind of input that you’re suggesting.”

Time magazine described Wheeler last year as a top Obama bundler and an Obama “true believer.”

But why did the FCC choose a consulting firm like Social Solutions International, Inc., which is “dedicated to the creation of social and health solutions to improve the welfare of underserved populations worldwide,” according to their website. “Founded on the values of diversity, social responsibility, and quality, Social Solutions International’s corporate culture is grounded in the concept of positive change,” states their website (emphasis added). These factors may just skew the data the FCC collects.

“The prospect of government-sponsored researchers querying independent journalists about their news judgment is constitutionally questionable—and wholly unnecessary,” asserted the National Association of Broadcasters regarding the study last July.

“Although the Commission’s stated reason for the report is to inform the Commission in taking deregulatory action to lower ‘market entry barriers for entrepreneurs and other small businesses,’ it is hard to read this and see it for anything other than what it is: Fairness Doctrine 2.0,” asserts a GOP letter which was sent on December 11, 2013, the day before the aforementioned hearing.

Diversity in media ownership is a core goal of the Obama administration. “As president, Obama will encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation’s spectrum,” states his 2008 agenda. Obama has also voiced his support for net neutrality.

In mid-2007 the Center for American Progress released a study entitled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” a transparent attempt to boost liberal viewpoints on the airwaves through the manipulation of FCC licenses, which radio stations and other broadcast entities have to periodically renew in compliance with regulatory standards. They found that “Quantitative analysis conducted by Free Press of all 10,506 licensed commercial radio stations reveals that stations owned by women, minorities, or local owners are statistically less likely to air conservative hosts or shows” (emphasis in original).

To make their goal even more transparent, they write: “Ultimately, these results suggest that increasing ownership diversity, both in terms of the race/ethnicity and gender of owners, as well as the number of independent local owners, will lead to more diverse programming, more choices for listeners, and more owners who are responsive to their local communities and serve the public interest.” By diverse programming, they mean more progressive viewpoints. We called it what it is back in 2008: a nascent Obama Fairness Doctrine.

This is not the only threat to free speech on the horizon. The Hill reported last month that “Thirteen House Democrats have proposed legislation that would require the government to study hate speech on the Internet, mobile phones and television and radio.” Who wants to guess what they would classify as “hate speech” in the end? Just look at what we’ve reported about the Southern Poverty Law Center, a media go-to for anti-“hate speech” quotations and expertise, for a clue.

Indeed, the enemies of free speech are patient, and those who love free anything—the Internet, broadcast cable, the radio—must remain ever vigilant themselves in order to preserve a free society from threats like these.

Bethany Stotts is a freelance writer, and former staff writer for Accuracy in Academia. She blogs at http://bethanystotts.wordpress.com/.


Cleta Mitchell Testifying on IRS Scandal: Lies Upon Lies, Not BoneHeaded Bureaucrats, It’s Not Over

By: Maggie Thornton
Maggie’s Notebook

Attorney Cleta Mitchell represents True the Vote, TEA Party Patriots and numerous others in the IRS targeting scandal. In the interview below, she is testifying before the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. She tells Congress that the IRS has lied, that lying to Congress is a criminal act, a felony and she wants the FBI to investigate. She says the DOJ investigation is a “sham, a non-existent investigation.” Ever American should be asking why Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) why Congress is not dealing a harder, harsher hand. Why is there no Select Committee? Why is the FBI not investigating? Where are the subpoenas? Why aren’t you doing something with the truth you already know? Why has Lois Lerner not been given immunity, or whatever is needed, to force her to testify? Are we really so impotent — as impotent as we were in Fast and Furious, and as impotent as we are in Benghazi? Remember this: when the Oval Office changes, hopefully to another political party, the IRS needs to be scrubbed cleaned of all leadership, and downsized.

First, the IRS scandal is real. It’s not pretend, it’s real. No. 2, the IRS scandal is not just a ‘bone-headed’ bunch of bureaucrats in some remote office, contrary to what the President of the United States told the American people on Sunday. No. 3, the IRS scandal is not over. It is continuing to this day, and the Department of Justice investigation is a sham. It is a non-existent investigation.

With regard to point No. 1, let me tell you in one sentence what the IRS scandal is. The IRS, at the direction of some political elites in Washington, not in Cincinnati, but Washington, took what had been, for decades, a process of reviewing applications for exempt status, that 501(c)(4) statuses could be expected to take three to four weeks, and they converted that process, into one that three to four years, and in some cases, is still not over.

No. 2 – The line agents in the IRS had their work disrupted or halted by Washington. In 2010, True The Vote filed their application for (3)(c) status and did not obtain that (3)(c) status until we sued the IRS, so in September, they granted it. People shouldn’t have to sue to get their tax exempt status. When Lois Lerner and President Obama accused line agents in Cincinnati of being responsible, ladies and gentlement, that is a lie. I knew when Lois Lerner said that in May of 2010, when she admitted that it was happening, after we knew it was happening, sort of like, we knew we were targeted, it’s just that she finally admitted it, but I knew it hadn’t happened in Cincinnati, because the first time I became aware of this was with a group that I represent.

We filed for tax exempt status in October 2009, and besides cashing our check for a filing fee, we did not hear from the IRS until June of 2010, and we didn’t hear from Cincinnati. We heard from Washington. That group did one thing. It lobbied against ObamaCare. In the Fall of 2009, in the Spring of 2010, something that a 501(c)(4) organization is permitted to spend 100 percent of its program expenditures doing, we did not get the tax exempt status for that organization until July of 2013.

When I took on the representation of Catherine Englebrecht and her two organizations in the Fall of 2011, this is now a year after she has sent her application to the IRS and she’s heard nothing, and when I talked to the assigned agent in Cincinnati, in October of 2011, saying we’re going to supplement the application to help make it easier to process, he told me at the time, ‘Oh, there’s a task force in Washington. We can’t do anything until we hear back from Washington.

No. 3, this scandal is not over. The lying has not stopped. I represent one TEA Party group, TEA Party Patriots, who applied in December of 2010, they still don’t have their (c)(4) status. There are lies upon lies in this ugly episode. The Commissioner of the IRS lied to Congress, lied…I believe it was this Committee in March of 2012 or April 2012, he said there was no targeting. How many communications from the IRS to Congress, who inquired about this status of application and whether there was targeting — how many communications were there, in which agents of the IRS told Congress that there was no targeting? Those are lies. Lying to Congress is a crime. The Department of Justice has refused to investigate who it was that was responsible for releasing the confidential tax information of Koch Industries to the President’s Economic Advisor who in turn released it to the press. Or who released the National Organization of Marriages tax returns? I represent NOM. We sued the IRS to try to get to the bottom of why our confidential tax information was made available to our political opponents. Where’s the FBI, in investigating? That’s a criminal offense. It’s a criminal offense to also for the IRS to release the confidential donor information of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and the Republican Governor’s Public Policy Council — conservative organization’s donor information was released by the IRS — that’s a criminal offense. Who’s investigating that?

And then finally, the lies, again, it is a lie, a felony, to lie to a federal agency, and yet the IRS, on the day after Thanksgiving, imposing these regulations, the agent for the IRS who transmitted those proposed regulations in the formal publication says, there are no related documents. That’s what it says on the website — related documents — none, yet I had submitted a four-year request on behalf of TEA Party Patriots for the underlying background documents, and they said, we can’t get you all those documents until April. The public comment period closes February 27th, so there are no documents, but it will take them till April to get them to us. That’s a lie, and they also lied when they transmitted those regulations, when they said the purpose of those regulations — the genesis was — [inaudible name of a Report]. There are too many lies, Mr. Chairman. It’s time to get to the truth. It’s time for the FBI to investigate these criminal acts, and it’s time for the IRS to cooperate as we try to get to the truth of why it has happened and how to make it stop. Thank You.


Obama and His Media Loyalists Still Spinning Benghazi

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

The media and Obama administration are at it again, trying to defend their earlier actions on Benghazi. For weeks following the September 11, 2012 attacks, President Obama and his colleagues blamed them on a spontaneous demonstration inspired by protests in Cairo, a position that has been repeatedly found to be patently untrue.

But Obama would prefer that the American public ignore this and his other “phony” scandals. In fact, he told Bill O’Reilly in a recent pre-Super Bowl interview that scandals like the IRS controversy are the result of irresponsible reporting by Fox News. “These kinds of things keep on surfacing in part because you and your TV station will promote them,” he told O’Reilly.

In an effort to convince us that Benghazi is not a scandal, Obama, arguing with O’Reilly, once again attempted to defend his completely indefensible narrative that in fact he said from day one that it was a terrorist attack (or in his words, “an act of terror”), and that the decision to claim the attack was the result of a spontaneous demonstration, sparked by an anti-Islam video, was made with the best information available.

As Accuracy in Media has reported, General Carter Ham, head of AFRICOM, told then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on the night of the attacks that there was a terrorist attack, not a spontaneous demonstration, in Benghazi. When asked about that, Obama maintained that Secretary Panetta told him that evening that it was just a plain “attack.”

O’Reilly pressed the point. “Understand, by definition, Bill, when somebody is attacking our compound, that’s an act of terror, which is how I characterized it the day after it happened,” responded President Obama. “So, the question ends up being, who in fact was attacking us?”

It turns out, according to a recently released Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report, that the attackers were a mix of low-level terrorists: “Individuals affiliated with terrorist groups, including [Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb], Ansar al-Sharia, [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula], and the Mohammad Jamal Network, participated in the September 11, 2012 attacks,” states the report. Ansar al Sharia was recently designated a foreign terrorist organization by the administration.

But Obama still characterizes the attack differently. “What happens is you have an attack like this taking place, and you have a mix of folks who just are troublemakers, you have folks who have an ideological agenda, you have some who are affiliated with terrorist organizations, you have some that are not,” he said.

Indeed, the SSCI report classifies the attack as “not a highly coordinated plot, but…opportunistic.”

However, to claim that that they couldn’t classify it as a terrorist attack at the time is disingenuous. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently revealed that the FBI interviewed witnesses to the attacks on September 15, 16, and 17, and “not one person ever mentioned anything other than a terrorist attack. No one mentioned a protest outside the consulate.” Sen. Graham is backed up by the findings of the bipartisan “Flashing Red” report of December 2012. Yet the myth of a spontaneous protest in Benghazi lives on.

And the debate could be seen on MSNBC, when in a post-State of the Union segment that included an interview with Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Rachel Maddow was left babbling, seemingly trying to turn the debate into a “War on Women” issue by suggesting that the congressman was being sexist in calling her a cheerleader. Maddow had just finished asking the congressman whether he had voted for bills that slashed funding for diplomatic posts in response to his outrage about Benghazi.

But that is a phony issue, and Maddow must know that. State Department official Charlene Lamb had testified before the House that funding had nothing to do with the decisions surrounding Benghazi’s ongoing poor security.

Maddow: “Did you just call me a cheerleader?”

Rep. Huelskamp: “I don’t know, maybe you have that history. I’m saying—”

Maddow: “No, wait, wait. Hold on. Hold on.”

Rep. Huelskamp: “When you’re a cheerleader for the administration, you’re not being a journalist. When you’re not willing to look at the facts. If it was Bush, you would be jumping and screaming.”

Maddow: “You’re amazing.”

Rep. Huelskamp made it clear that he was calling Maddow a cheerleader for the Obama administration. And, given her history, who could deny that?

Then Mr. Thrill-up-his-leg Chris Matthews jumped in to claim that the SSCI report was a vindication of President Obama’s and Susan Rice’s position on Benghazi.

Clearly, Matthews either doesn’t know what’s in the report, or he’s just doing his usual defend-Obama-at-all-costs routine. “And also, by the way, the non-partisan—or bipartisan, Senate Intelligence Committee has completely verified everything that Susan Rice said, every point,” contended Matthews. “[The attack] was caused by a copycat attack coming from Cairo over to Benghazi, which was itself stimulated by all the evidence they have by that crazy movie guy making a movie out in Los Angeles,” he continued. “And the fact that the use of the term extremist rather than terrorist came from the CIA, and the non-reference to the al Qaeda was a decision by the sainted General Petraeus at the CIA. Everything was done right.”

But wait. Didn’t President Obama call it an “act of terror” from day one? If he knew it was a terrorist act, and not a spontaneous demonstration, why did Susan Rice, speaking on his behalf, say otherwise?

“Some intelligence suggests the attacks were likely put together in short order, following that day’s violent protests in Cairo against an inflammatory video, suggesting that these and other terrorist groups could conduct similar attacks with little advance warning,” states the report. This has been used by some to say that the spontaneous demonstration narrative is true.

However, the report does not call the attack a “copycat” attack, as Matthews does. In fact, the report says that “intelligence analysts inaccurately referred to the presence of a protest at the [Benghazi] Mission facility…” and didn’t rely enough on eyewitness statements in their data collection.

As stated before, the eyewitnesses called it a terrorist attack in their interviews with the FBI. Former Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya Gregory Hicks characterized the YouTube video as a “non-event in Libya” in his testimony before the House.

Clearly, some controversy remains over these points, and the difference in opinion appears to be between those sitting in their offices that night in the nation’s capital, who tried to spin the least harmful narrative two months before a presidential election, and those on the ground in Libya at the time. To suggest that Obama and Rice did everything right, and that they did not mislead the public, is also disingenuous on Matthews’ part.

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.


Trevor Loudon is Speaking to The Tea Party Patriots of Arizona to Expose ‘The Enemies Within’

Pacific Freedom Foundation

Start: 18 February 2014 6:30 pm
Venue: North Gate Church

Trevor Loudon is an acclaimed author, political researcher, dynamic speaker and blogger. He has been rated one of the top 50 bloggers for 3 consecutive years. Not only will you have the opportunity to hear and meet Trevor, you’ll also be able to purchase a signed copy of his latest book, “The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialist and Progressives in the U.S. Congress.”

The Enemies Within” exposes the comprehensive communist, socialist and extreme progressive infiltration of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. The book profiles fourteen Senators and more than fifty Representatives and their ties to the Communist Party USA, Democratic Socialists of America, radical anti-American organizations and more.

Ever wonder why the U.S. Congress has moved further and further left over your lifetime, even while much of the electorate has become more and more conservative? Why government regulation and taxes have exponentially increased, even though most Americans still oppose Big Government? You’ll understand after hearing Trevor speak.

The Enemies Within is designed to show American voters exactly how modern communism works and how it impacts on your life, every single day — in time for you to make a difference during the Midterm Elections. Just how do the communists win big on things like Obamacare and immigration “reform”, which go completely against the wishes of the American people? If you want to know exactly who is tearing down your beloved country… this is a MUST READ.

Tell your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Plan to attend — you don’t want to regret missing this incredible opportunity.

The TEA Party Patriots of Arizona
Tuesday, February 18th | 6:30 pm

NorthGate Church
34835 N. 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85207

If your TEA Party, 9.12 Project, or patriotic group would like to have Trevor Loudon speak, please contact Regina Thompson.

Check Trevor’s TOUR MAP AND SCHEDULE, constantly being updated with new events and venues. HURRY! Events are filling up fast.