August 29, 2009

Bringing Transparent Excuses and Modern Technology to Good Old Fashioned Censorship

Monique Chartier

In 2007, President Hugo Chavez shut down a television station that was critical of him. Less than a month ago, he ordered the shut down of thirty four radio stations for the "crime" of belonging to the "bourgeoisie".

(Golf enthusiasts, check out what else is "bourgeoisie" and had to be shut down in Venezuela a couple of weeks ago.)

Listening with half an ear a couple of days ago to Glenn Beck as he was plugging [correction] DirecTV - I think; in any case, Dish Network - a company that allows you to remotely order the recording of your favorite programs on your television back home - it occurred to me, obviously in a first amendment vacuum, how convenient it would be for a dictator president to hook up all of the media outlets in his country to such a device. An offending outlet could then be easily and swifty shut down with a couple of key strokes.

That got me musing on a slightly more serious matter: what exactly is the difference between shutting down media outlets because they're "bourgeoisie" and elbowing them out on the basis of insufficient diversity or localism?

“The FCC must ensure that the communications field is competitive, generates widespread opportunities, and is open to new ideas from all sources,” said Chairman Genachowski. “This exceptionally talented team will collaborate on the policies and legal framework necessary to expand opportunities for women, minorities, and small businesses to participate in the communications marketplace.”
[NewsBusters' Seton Motley has more about the FCC's new "Chief Diversity Officer" - is such a position even legal? - here.]

Though one sounds slightly more noble than the other, aren't these reasons - bourgeoisie bad, diversity good - simply a cover to accomplish the same thing: censorship and a hijacking of airwaves?

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Someone still advertises with Glenn Beck?

Posted by: doughboys at August 29, 2009 5:52 PM

Yes, doughboy, people still do advertise with Glenn Beck. In fact, a lot still do. And all the people you lefties tried to force into shame for the "sin of advertising on Beck" simply moved their spots to other Fox show. Then, they paid the price when Beck's shows went through the roof in ratings. You see, that attitude is exactly what Ms. Chartier was talking about - you lefties have this thing about trying to shut down opposing points of view. One could say a character flaw. And instead of engaging the discussion on any intellectual level, you simply pull a drive-by smear. And the sad part is you probably thought you were clever. I miss the days when liberals had, you know, arguments and stuff.

Posted by: jrobinson at August 29, 2009 8:00 PM

Glenn Becks most outrageous,vile and hatefull comments are well documented on YouTube,geting millions of hits.

The best comments are from Republicans who think he is NUTS.

Just enter Glenn Beck in the search box
on youTube

Posted by: YouTube at August 29, 2009 8:37 PM

Looks like you've boned up on your Rule 12 of Alinsky's Rules for Radicals:

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

Posted by: Tom W at August 29, 2009 11:06 PM

CNET news August 28th:

Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet

They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.

Posted by: Tom W at August 29, 2009 11:10 PM

Somehow, I doubt the people complaining about advertisers running away from Beck had any problem when (likely many of the same) advertisers ran away from Bill Maher.
It's no big deal, anyway, if these people are just moving their ads to other FNC shows. Rupert's just putting those dollars in a different pocket.
Advertising boycotts are overrated, anyway - for every ad buyer that made a big whoop years ago about ditching WWE Raw, another decided Vince McMahon's neighborhood was a cool place to park advertising dollars.

Posted by: rhody at August 30, 2009 1:33 AM


Why did you not delete the word "dictator" instead of drawing a line through it. Did you coyly wish for us to know that you had typed the bad word. What a minx you are.

Posted by: Phil at August 30, 2009 7:11 AM

It's funny that no one from left of center wants to actually discuss the issue here. Instead, it's just misdirection. that's why I stopped reading and posting on RIFuture. The original argument just gets lost in a jumble of personal attacks and off-topic deflections.
Now from a free press/free market standpoint, I can't see how anyone could justify the so-called fairness doctrine. If a show is bad, has no ratings and no ad dollars, then let it die. But don't stifle free speech or basic economics.
With that said, I am very interested in what liberals have to say about Chavez's moves. I recall several years ago a rather rabid defense of the man and his policies over at RIFuture.
It would be interesting to know if his recent outbursts, constitutional power grabs and oppositional suppression are as distasteful to the left as they are to me.

Posted by: Newporter at August 30, 2009 7:59 AM

Some of the folks at RIF should try living in Venezuela.I'm thinking of the ones who are perennial complainers.They'd find out soon enough that in a Chavez style republic,no dissent is tolerated,even from the left.
David Segal has stars in his eyes about some of these regimes.He could probably use a reality check.He'd come back with a different perspective.
We cannot expect Latin America to embrace our system when they have been living with the "caudillo"political philosophy for so long.Not without exception,but pretty much in that mold.
We definitely have nothing to learn from Venezuela or Nicaragua,just to name two examples.

Posted by: joe bernstein at August 30, 2009 9:29 AM


Monique does not care about Chavez or what he did in 2007. She introduced him only to be able to call President Obama a dictator. The line between the two that she hopes for us to follow is the draconian measures of Hugo Chavez and a policy statement about diversity at the FCC. Horrors. Our little minx uses Media Research Center's Seton Motley to try to fill in the huge gaps. Media Research Center is a right wing funded group founded by Brent Bozell.

Posted by: Phil at August 30, 2009 10:31 AM

Phil, thanks for providing me the opportunity to clarify the post.

In crossing off the word dictator and putting in the word "president", I was, indeed, referring to Hugo Chavez. Further, by doing so in this fashion, I was preempting those who would point out that Chavez was elected president so he could not technically be termed a dictator. In fact, any leader who simply shuts down media outlets for the crime of criticizing his regime is, in my opinion, prima facie a dictator, even if he has been elected.

President Obama has not shut down any media outlets for any reason; therefore, he is not a dictator. However, members of his administration - in this case, the FCC - seem to be edging their way in that direction. They propose to change the rules for who can be on the air. The basis for access to airwaves would no longer be aggregating the most listeners, accruing a sufficient number of paying advertisers or even being accurate or entertaining. It would be possession of the right skin color, gender or address. ("Localism". So truth collects in certain geographic areas?)

As most of President Obama's critics have the wrong skin color and gender (I wonder what would happen under these rules if Condoleeza Rice applied to get a radio show?), they'd be gone. So these proposed new "rules" would accomplish exactly the same thing as Chavez' actions: removal of those who criticize the leader of the country.

As the FCC is taking a much longer path towards this end, however, it is to be hoped that they will have time to reconsider the wisdom of both their goals and their means.

Posted by: Monique at August 30, 2009 11:35 AM

With Chavez we get Salsa Fascism, and with Obama we get Chicago Deep Dish Fascism.

Different menu items at the Collectivist Cafe, but both extremely bad for your political health.

Posted by: Tom W at August 30, 2009 1:24 PM


I have no idea how you got all that from two sentences from Chairman Genachowski.

Posted by: Phil at August 30, 2009 1:44 PM


Again, I go back to my point on misdirection and deflection.

I'm not interested in your opinion on Monique, but rather the issue she brings up: that of quelching speech in democracies.

Posted by: Newporter at August 30, 2009 5:31 PM

Monique I'm sure you were just bristling over the warrant less wiretaps the telcos enabled for GW in exchange for FCC favoritism.

As far as this being an 'issue' the entire post is reactionary and speculative in nature so whats the actual issue? Moniques overactive imagination?

BTW in the post she referred to Glenn Beck plugging an advertiser so I commented on the post as written. I suppose if things get really bad for Fox or Beck they can just hire DePetro's wife to rig those ratings also.

Posted by: doughboys at August 30, 2009 7:02 PM


What don't you understand. There is no quelching (your word) of speech. For christsake we just witnessed all these town hall meetings across the country. There is no shortage of right wing websites , commentary, pundits, and radio jocks. I can't even listen to an area sports radio show without being bombarded with right wing b*llsh*t. Where is your speech being "quelched"?
Monique wrote the post. What don't you get about that.

Posted by: Phil at August 30, 2009 7:49 PM

Doughboys, would that be the warrantless wiretapping that the Obama administration briskly defended in April? I'd have to do research on the matter. But offhand, you're right. It doesn't sound good.

Phil, the Chairman's words speak for themselves.

This exceptionally talented team will collaborate on the policies and legal framework necessary to expand opportunities for women, minorities, and small businesses to participate in the communications marketplace.

Unless you or the Chairman are aware of airwaves that are currently going unused, the only place such "opportunities" can be found is by bumping people who currently host programs off the air by saying that they no longer qualify to be there.

Hey, Newporter, what's your view of Castro and Cuba?

Posted by: Monique at August 30, 2009 8:07 PM

The DOJ was defending Bush officials without immunity for their actions.

You are right the DOJ should have hung the Bush people out to dry for those actions but then you'd blame Obama for that also.

Posted by: doughboys at August 30, 2009 8:25 PM

Before we are too critical of Mr. Chavez, we should remember that our FCC came into being only after the seizure or radio. Governments accepted the idea that Mr. Marconi's "radio waves" travelled on "air waves". And that those "air waves" belonged to the "public".

Look it up. "air waves" do not exist. Our FCC still refers to the "air waves", and no one picks them up on it. I have always hoped to be in an audience where I could request a speaker to define "air waves".

In any case, we quelled the "free market" by requiring government licensure.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at August 30, 2009 9:02 PM

Warrington makes a good point.

Phil still seems to be avoiding the question.


I am not too concerned about speech here being suppressed in the current moment. (Although the initiative gave me the creepers and the Speaker of the House's description of the town hall protesters as "unAmerican" made my stomach turn.)

What I am concerned about is the current movement afoot to institute a "fairness doctrine." That's what this post was about.

Now from your last response, I can only assume that you wouldn't have a problem with program changes being forced upon radio broadcasters. Which is fine. Just say: "I support the fairness doctrine. The government should decide what type of programming is available to me."

I would disagree with that.

As far as Chavez goes, I'm still curious to know how the state's left wing views his increasingly hostile rhetoric and actions toward seemingly anyone who disagrees with him.

To answer Monique's querry,
Castro's tenure has been a terrible injustice to the Cuban people. Our inability to come up with a more effective policy toward such a close neighbor is equally troubling.
I'm too young to remember the 1950s, 60s or the height of the Cold War, but it seems that after the Soviet Union fell, while we revamped our policies toward former Soviet Bloc countries with good success, (Poland and Georgia for example) we failed to make any effort to reconsider our approach to Cuba.

Had we done so then, we would have been negotiating during a time where leftist ideology was in a severe lull. Now, with authoritarian leaders on the rise, I fear that we have missed our chance.

Posted by: Newporter at August 31, 2009 9:18 AM