To the Editor:
Our basic freedoms in the Bill of Rights are encroached on almost daily by some branch of government, political organization or social group.
The latest is the attempt by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to monitor media news rooms by interviewing reporters, anchors and news managers to determine their “news philosophy,” how they select stories and gather the news. One reason given was to be sure the public was getting “crucial information.”
You can be sure that would be crucial information as determined by the government. If the FCC wants to know about what and who is reporting the news, they should look at and listen to the news just as we all do. Monitoring and on-site researching is intimidation.
One of the FCC commissioners, Ajit Pai, stated “the government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories. News organizations might feel compelled to cooperate with a government study, given that the FCC holds the power to renew radio and TV licenses. The agency could potentially reject a station’s license renewal if it failed to meet a ‘critical information’ needs test.”
Think about that! Another government agency wielding a penalty on organizations that do not meet government standards, i.e., the ideologies set by any current administration.
An immediate and powerful backlash caused the FCC chairman to withdraw the study while saying the effort would be amended. Rest assured this disgraceful breach of our Constitution will be back in a different form in another attempt to control our media. The ultimate result could be a state-run media — a tactic well-known in third world and dictator-ruled countries.
This attempt to damage our freedom of the press is reason for Americans of every political persuasion to take notice of the incredible hubris and arrogance of a government agency to disregard our Constitution to satisfy some government quest for power and control.
The Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, guarantee basic freedoms. In the First Amendment we are guaranteed freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and the right to petition government for redress of grievances without fear of punishment or reprisals.
The IRS delayed or denied the 501C applications of conservative organizations, mostly TEA Party groups — a threat to freedom of speech or maybe even assembly. Obamacare requires contraceptive coverage be provided by religious groups whose doctrine forbids it — freedom of religion ignored. The Second Amendment, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed, is under attack from multiple anti-gun groups, executive orders and government agencies that would leave guns in the hands of criminals but not of law-abiding citizens. The National Security Agency collects telephone records and Internet activity of innocent Americans in the name of protection from terrorism. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and sets out requirements for search warrants based on probable cause The Fourth Amendment was breached in 2013 when Justice Department secretly obtained two months’ worth of telephone records of journalists working for the Associated Press.
One definition of encroachment is “to intrude gradually or stealthily often taking away somebody’s authority, rights or property.” Consider this and how we tolerate encroachment on our basic guaranteed rights.