Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mr. Copps and the First Amendment

I have no hesitancy in congratulating FCC Commissioner Michael Copps on receiving the Four Freedoms Award from the Roosevelt Institute the other day. I have never questioned Commissioner Copps' good faith. I just have profound a difference of opinion regarding his regulatory philosophy and his understanding of the Constitution.

For example, in accepting the award, Mr. Copps used the occasion to expound on the most persistent theme of his long tenure as a commissioner -- that the agency has failed in ensuring that the public receives through the media the type of content that Mr. Copps believes it should receive. I know Mr. Copps doesn't put the point so boldly.

But what else can he really mean when, in an era of media abundance heretofore unimaginable, he continually rails against the lack of what he calls "quality news" and "dumbed-down civic dialogue."

It's become clear over time that Commissioner Copps just wishes the news and dialogue was more to his liking. He insists the FCC should ensure that "the people's airwaves serve the people's interest."

In an era with so much media, and so much competition, presumably they already do.

It's a pretty scary proposition when an FCC commissioner really wants to define what constitutes "quality news".

Again, I am happy to offer my congratulations on Mr. Copps' award. But, I wish, in return, he'd read, and take to heart, my piece in today's Daily Caller, "Constitution Day at the FCC." I have a profoundly different view of the First Amendment's free speech guarantee than Commissioner Copps.