First, major kudos to TAS and the Prowler for your outstanding coverage of this astonishing meltdown at CBS. Your thorough analysis is inspiring -- you are doing the investigative reporting that certain supposedly responsible TV journalists are openly shirking.
Now, I have a separate, but related axe to grind. Of course it galls me that The Dan and company are able to mount a sloppily researched, fraudulently documented attack on the President for openly political purposes anytime they like. What nags me more at the moment, though, is that within 60 days of the election, I cannot buy a countering TV ad that says, "I'm a US citizen, and I believe what President Bush says about his record," without being arrested by the McCain-Feingold police. And neither can you.
Does this finally make it clear that this country's political system needs more political speech on TV, not less?
Now it wouldn't surprise me if the cheerleaders for campaign finance reform would react to this line of thinking by going the exact opposite way -- banning the news from covering political topics in the 60 days leading up to an election. In his partial dissent from the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the pointless, counterproductive CFR law, Justice Thomas points out that the door is now open for just that sort of an attack on the media.
Justice Scalia's wonderful, and typically clearheaded dissent is just over halfway through the doc -- it should be required reading for conservatives. And then comes this chilling warning from Justice Thomas (edited for brevity). The complete text of the opinion, and the dissents are here>
Now, supporters of such laws need only argue that the press' "capacity to manipulate popular opinion" gives rise to an "appearance of corruption," especially when this capacity is used to promote a particular candidate or party... Nor is there anything in the joint opinion that would prevent Congress from imposing the Fairness Doctrine, not just on radio and television broadcasters, but on the entire media... Hence, "the freedom of the press," described as "one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty," ... could be next on the chopping block. Although today's opinion does not expressly strip the press of First Amendment protection, there is no principle of law or logic that would prevent the application of the Court's reasoning in that setting. The press now operates at the whim of Congress.
Think about that. Isn't it easy to say that CBS has an overlarge "capacity to manipulate popular opinion", especially if they somehow succeed in getting their audience to look the other way when they brazenly betray the principles of honest journalism? It's simple to argue for an "appearance of corruption" when CBS won't or can't produce the original documents to support their allegations. And can any thinking person now doubt that CBS does "promote a particular candidate or party"? Surely it's time to expand CFR to include Big Media, right? Rather lies, and free speech dies?
No, of course not. But I find it enormously insulting that Congress passed CFR hoping the Senate wouldn't vote for it; the Senate voted for it, hoping the President wouldn't sign it; the President signed it, hoping the Supreme Court would invalidate it; and now that it's the law of the land, the President is calling for an end to the 527s, brought into existence by the same thoughtless law! Now, I love 96% of what W is doing, but this outrageous assault on free speech makes up about 3 of the other 4%.
Repeal McCain-Feingold! If Soros wants to waste a gazillion dollars trying to elect a dead fish, I say let him - as long as the Swifties can still do their thing, and I can still buy an ad that says "Vote Bush. I'm an American citizen, I live in a free country, and I approved this message."
-- Michael Hammond
McCain is a well intentioned bungler who can't see the forest for the trees!