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Sunday, October 17, 2004

FCC Reform Blogsplosion IV--Guest Blogger
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Before Ray's blogsplosion following Friday's PFF FCC reform program dies down, I want to supplement something Ray says about the Reed Hundt commission on which Susan Ness served as a Democrat appointee. (See especially Ray's Blogsplosion II). In a piece I did for Legal Times in June 2000 entitled "An Agency for Bill and Al" I chronicled how Reed Hundt bragged in his "Revolution" memoir about the extent to which he coordinated FCC activities on a regular basis with the White House. For example, he recited how he "orchestrated" a White House summit to pressure television broadcasters to air additional children's programming, and how, by doing so, "we were helping the President and Vice-President win re-election." He talks about meeting regularly with Ann Lewis in the White House, one of President's Clinton's top political operatives. Read the book, please.

I doubt Susan Ness, who spoke at Friday's seminar, was oblivious to all the White House coordination. I expect she welcomed it, if it would help secure a Children's Television Rule more to her liking.

I don't much appreciate those who act as if the FCC is not already a institution heavily influenced by politics. And I appreciate much less anyone who acts like the politics that do exist only come from one side of the political aisle.

What I do believe is what I said way back in the June 2000 Legal Times article, when I didn't know and (for purposes of the point I was making) could have cared less about who would be elected president that November:

As much as anything else, You Say You Want a Revolution is Reed Hundt's justification for why he coordinated his actions so closely with the White House. He may be on to something. Placing what's left of a slimmed-down FCC in the executive branch at least would place accountability for policy making squarely in the president's hands.

In other words, political accountability for policymaking decisions that Congress has delegated and refused to make itself is a good thing in a democracy, not a bad thing. As I said at Friday's seminar, there is no one right answer to policy questions such as media ownership (or the question of how much children's television programming should be mandated, or what type) that is discernible by "expert" commissioners. If the White House wants to closely coordinate policy on Children's Television with the FCC, as the Clinton White House clearly did, that is fine with me---but only so long as some don't pretend that politics is not involved and so as long as the president can be held accountable at the ballot box for the resulting policy.

posted by Randolph May @ 1:10 PM | The FCC

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